Review: Keigwin + Company's "elements" Makes a Splash

Keigwin + Company’s performance of "elements" at New York City's Joyce Theater last week turned a timeworn theme into a theatrical fusion of nature’s ingredients. Each one of the four acts represented water, fire, earth and air. “I have a short attention span,” says Artistic Director Larry Keigwin. “So I quickly realized that the suite format worked well for me, because I could do shorter pieces and string them together.” 

Keigwin is known for his provocative, witty works. He has choreographed not only for prestigious companies like Martha Graham, but also for the Rockettes and rousing musicals like The Wild Party.

Each of the "elements" in Keigwin's latest work has degrees of humor and playfulness, but also drama and sometimes sorrow. The music ranges from Mozart to Cole Porter to Devo's popular hit “Whip It.” “What’s powerful about the work is that it has both highs and lows,” Keigwin says. With towel costumes and water bottles, the dancers explore water with shifting formations, pushing the space and molding to each other. In “Sea” a female dancer is lifted, thrown and caught by three male dancers as if being carried by a wave. Dancers in hot-hued unitards mime the unpredictable nature of flames by moving through sharp and slow steps in "Fire." In cautious, grounded, twitchy reptilian forms, the dancers in “Earth” imitate, with incredible dexterity and rebounding motion, our four-legged amphibian friends. All the characters of a standard flight crew soar onto the stage in the final act, “Air.” Ending the show with Phillip Glass’ “Channels and Winds,” the movement is entrancing—with sweeping, seamless formation changes, blurred like a fast-moving wind 

Keigwin shares choreography credits with his dancers. “So many dancers never get a change to choreograph, because the choreographer they work with wants to do everything," he says. "I know I need them. We’re like family. 

Keigwin + Company will be performing at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival August 20–24 in Becket, Massachusetts, where their peculiar and humorous themes are sure to win them even more fans. Look for more upcoming performances on their website.

Clockwise from top left: Courtesy Ford Foundation; Christian Peacock; Nathan James, Courtesy Gibson; David Gonsier, courtesy Marshall; Bill Zemanek, courtesy King; Josefina Santos, courtesy Brown; Jayme Thornton; Ian Douglas, courtesy American Realness

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