- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 21, 2009

DANCE:

A dance about the elements — water, fire, earth and air — might seem to suggest flowing bodies, music of the spheres, rushing streams, rolling clouds.

That’s not the way Larry Keigwin and the dancers of his eponymous troupe, Keigwin + Company, see it.

Making their first Washington appearance Thursday and Friday at the Kennedy Center, this adventurous group plunges into an antic world of hip-hop, lizards, and men in sequins - or, as one reviewer facetiously put it, “not the exclusionary dance that puts regular people off to dance but dance itself, the way God and Isadora Duncan intended it.”

“‘Elements,’ the work we’re showing at the Kennedy Center, really built upon the idea of earth, fire and air, hopefully done with a very pop sensibility and accessibility,” Mr. Keigwin says of the 90-minute piece, which will be performed without an intermission.

One section, “Water Suite,” he points out, uses music that ranges from Mozart to Eartha Kitt.

“It definitely has its sexual moments,” he says. “It’s all danced in towels.

“The Earth movement vocabulary came from lizards, insects and reptilian animals. In ‘Air,’ we used flight attendants as a motif. ‘Fire’ was just a campy take on fire using some hip-hop music. It’s a really wide range, not what you might typically see for those elements - very physical, very theatrical, hopefully witty,” Mr. Keigwin explains.

Describing his approach to dance, Mr. Keigwin says, “I love drama, I love comedy. I sort of balance between those two worlds. I’m ultimately a show person: an entertainer that’s artistically driven.”

The young choreographer’s love of dance was formed early on.

“Back in high school, I realized I had a knack for club dancing. I related to music and loved the social aspect of dancing,” he says. “Then, a friend of mine suggested I study dance, but I never knew that was a possibility because I grew up in suburban, almost rural eastern Long Island, and there were no dance studios in the town I grew up in. But DJ music and being an extrovert at high school dances sort of cued me in - so then I studied modern and ballet at college.

“I gravitated toward very theatrical companies when I started dancing … the Metropolitan Opera, a little film work, a lot of downtown New York gigs,” says Mr. Keigwin, who once performed as a back-up dancer for MTV VJ “Downtown” Julie Brown on the cable network’s “Club MTV.”

“I danced on Broadway, I worked with the Rockettes, so my work is really just an extension of my experiences.”

Now in their sixth year, he and his company (four women and four men, counting Mr. Keigwin) are reaching another goal with their Washington debut.

“I love the Kennedy Center,” he says. “I think it’s an American icon.”

WHAT: Keigwin + Company

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday

WHERE: Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

TICKETS: $36

PHONE: 202/467-4600

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