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Keigwin Dance Troupe Mixes High Art, Pop Culture

(Posted September 6, 2011)

The Keigwin and Co. troupe will dance the themed piece "Elements" at 7:30 p.m., Sept. 16 in Rosenberger Auditorium in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Larry Keigwin, one of the most celebrated choreographers in the country, returns to the Juniata College campus with a dance-centric program of electrifying contemporary music mixed with romantic energy by his troupe Keigwin + Company at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 16 in Rosenberger Auditorium in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts.

For tickets and information about the Juniata College Presents series, please call (814) 641-JTIX (5849). General admission tickets for single performances are $20, except where otherwise noted. Single-show tickets for seniors over age 65 and children age 18 and under are $12. Juniata College students are admitted free with a student ID.

Larry Keigwin's cabaret offshoot, Keigwin Kabaret, performed at Juniata in 2010. This year, the company returns to its contemporary dance roots with four dazzling dance sections designed to reflect the four basic elements earth, wind, water and fire.

The program, called "Elements," opens with a dance set to Mozart's "Piano Concerto No. 21," also known as the "Elvira Madigan" movement. But the dance company does not move with classical precision. Instead, the dancers create the act of taking a shower while reacting to the soft insistence of the Mozart piece.

In "Elements" there are four 'water" dances, four "fire" dances, four "earth dances and a final dance set based on "wind."

"I try not to put boundaries on what I do. I always feel like we surprise ourselves. I do want my work to have a large audience."
Larry Keigwin

The earth pieces use themes from the natural world as the dancers mimic movements from the animal and reptile kingdoms set to such music as Debussy's "Syrinx," Harold Arlen's "Stormy Weather" and Devo's "Whip It." The 'fire" dances use inspiration from Handel's "Aria: Al Lampo Dell'armi," Patsy Cline's recording of "Crazy" and "Walk It Out" from the rapper Unk.

The "air" sequences use humor and comic situations to bring dance to a wider audience. For example, one dance is set in the fuselage of an airplane and set to the pop anthem "Up, Up and Away." Other songs featured are "Arabesque," by Debussy and "Catch a Falling Star."

The final piece is a dreamy fantasy of wind and movement set to minimalist composer Philip Glass' "Channels and Winds."

Modern dance is at the heart of most of Keigwin + Company's performances, but the professional and fantastically controlled dancers are given freedom to wring laughs and a little bit of pathos out of their performances.

Keigwin, who received his start in show business as one of Downtown Julie Brown's backup dancers on "Club MTV," was quoted in the New York Times, "I try not to put boundaries on what I do. I always feel like we surprise ourselves. I do want my work to have a large audience."

Members of the Keigwin dance ensemble are: Matthew Baker, Ashley Brown, Aaron Carr, Brandon Cournay, Kristina Hanna, Kile Hotchkiss, Kit McDaniel, Emily Oldak, Ryoji Sasamoto, Gary Schaufeld, Emily Schoen, Jaclyn Walsh and Nicole Wolcott.

Larry Keigwin remains a sought-after choreographer and dancer in addition to the demands of his professional dance company. He has created dances for The New York City Ballet, the Martha Graham Dance Company and the Julliard Dance Ensemble. He also is an associate choreographer for the Radio City Rockettes. As a performer, he has appeared at the Metropolitan Opera in "Le Sacre Du Printemps" and "The Magic Flute." He also appeared in the Oscar-nominated film, "Across the Universe," directed by Julie Taymor.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.