New York’s Keigwin + Company arrives in Philadelphia this weekend following the close of its 10th anniversary season at Manhattan’s Joyce Theater. The occasion is not just a cause for celebration, according to founder Larry Keigwin, but evidence of the company’s success and durability.
“It’s a huge landmark,” Keigwin says. “The company started in 2003 and we’ve been through several economic climates, so it’s kind of a case of survival of the fittest.”
Keigwin’s own career echoes that same adaptability. The native New Yorker has worked in a wide variety of roles within the field of dance, choreographing the recent off-Broadway production of “Rent” and working with the Radio City Rockettes, creating a cabaret for Joe’s Pub and classical work for the Royal New Zealand Ballet.
The program that Keigwin will present at the Annenberg Center this weekend will function as an unofficial retrospective of the company’s first decade, featuring four Philly premieres that span its 10-year history. “I would say it’s a variety show,” Keigwin says. “There’s love and romance and drama, theatricality, athleticism and entertainment.”
The program includes “Triptych,” an abstract 2009 work set to an electronic score by composer Jonathan Melville Pratt, the company’s first commissioned score; and “Love Songs,” a suite of six dances exploring different couples via the music of Aretha Franklin, Roy Orbison and Nina Simone. Keigwin explains, “It takes an up close and personal look at three different types of relationship: independent, dependent and co-dependent. Each couple has their own highlight based on the mood of the songs.”
It also reaches back to the work that inaugurated Keigwin + Company, the signature piece “Mattress Suite.” Originally a duo for Keigwin and then-collaborator Nicole Wolcott, the piece has expanded to a suite of six dances, all set on a mattress. As part of the 10th anniversary season, Keigwin encouraged fans to make their own mattress dances and share them via social media.
“I felt like celebrating it 10 years later,” Keigwin says, “and coming full circle. It began with just one duet on a mattress that we pulled off of my bed, created in the living room of my tiny New York apartment. We were literally using the mattress as a springboard for creativity. It’s a journey of sexual identity and awakening.”
On the other end of the spectrum is the brand new piece “Girls,” featuring the company’s three female dancers and set to music by Frank Sinatra that complements an earlier piece for male dancers (“Boys,” naturally). A looser, free-spirited dance, Keigwin calls the piece “just a moment to be cheeky.”
Keigwin + Company
Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
3680 Walnut St.