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Contemporary dance company celebrates 10 years onstage

By JOHN BURNETT

Tribune-Herald staff writer

Keigwin + Company brings its unique and exciting style of contemporary dance to the University of Hawaii at Hilo Performing Arts Center stage Monday at 7:30 p.m.

Artistic Director Larry Keigwin, who founded the company in 2003, described his company’s style of dance as “very theatrical, physical and entertaining.”

“We’re just em-barking on our 10th anniversary year,” he said. “I sort of grew up in pop culture and ‘Club MTV’ and danced for many modern dance companies, on Broadway and in film, and I think that my company is a combination of all of those influences.

“I was schooled in contemporary dance, so we’re definitely rooted in that, but we also touch upon theatre.”

Keigwin actually performed in several “Club MTV” episodes. After earning his degree in dance in 1994 from Hofstra University, he danced with a number of artists including John Jasperse, Julie Taymor, Doug Varone and Mark Dendy. It was Dendy gave Keigwin his start as a choreographer when he invited the dancer to create and peform a solo — which eventually evolved into Keigwin’s “Mattress Suite” — as part of Dendy’s own program at Manhattan’s Joyce Theater.

Eight of the company’s dancers will perform in Hilo: Matt Baker, Ashley Browne, Aaron Carr, Brandon Cournay, Emily Oldak, Gary Schaufeld, Emily Schoen and Jaclyn Walsh. K+C’s Hilo program consists of four dances, Keigwin said.

“‘Caffeinated’ is sort of a nod to the coffee culture craze,” he explained. “I choreographed that back in 2007 when there was a Starbucks popping up on every corner of Manhattan. It’s 10 minutes of hyperkinetic dance set to Philip Glass, very rhythmic.”

Keigwin described the 2006 work “Love Songs” as “a Keigwin signature work.”

“It’s six duets set to Aretha Franklin, Roy Orbison and Nina Simone,” he explained. “They each tackle themes of different types of relationships — independent, co-dependent and dependent. They’re a little more narrative and witty and sexy.”

“Contact Sport” is the newest creation on the program, and Keigwin described the 2012 work as “semi-autobiographical.”

“It’s a quartet for four men set to four Eartha Kitt songs,” he said. “To me, it’s about sibling rivalry. There’s a lot of horseplaying, and I think it’s a little touching, at times. I was one of four boys growing up, so I think there’s a lot of that influence in the work.”

The company will also perform an excerpt of the 2009 dance “Triptych.”

“‘Triptych’ is a more abstract work from a new composer from New York, Jonathan Pratt,” he said. “It’s very architectural, very physical, definitely more minimalist, not as narrative driven.”

Like many in the Big Apple, the company was affected by Superstorm Sandy, which interrupted a creative residency on Governor’s Island in Manhattan and left some of the dancers, especially those living in Brooklyn “without electricity for awhile” in the dead of winter. Keigwin said he and the dancers will be “thrilled to leave the cold of New York” for Hawaii’s balmier climes.

“I thought that Christmas was the break, but this is the real break,” he said.

What K+C aims to deliver, Keigwin said, is “an electrifying, entertaining, accessible hour of dance that will hopefully rejuvenate and inspire.”

Tickets are $25 general, $20 discount and $12 children 17 and under and UH students, on sale at the UHHPAC box office, by phone at 974-7310 and online at http://artscenter.uhh.hawaii.edu.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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