One of my first performances as a first-year dance student at the University of Minnesota was performing Larry Keigwin’s Runaway in the spring concert in 2014. The two-week residency included classes from Kile Hotchkiss followed by rehearsal with him. As a freshman, my mindset was to approach the rehearsal prepared to learn the choreography at a quick pace and layer on performative details later. At the time, I measured my artistic performance based on how accurately I could execute the choreography. But through this process, my eagerness to perform the work shifted to strengthening my dynamics, movement quality and musciality throughout the arc of the piece.
The opportunity to have rehearsal immediately after class with Hotchkiss introduced me to the aesthetic and movement vocabulary of KEIGWIN + COMPANY as well as to the choreography of the work. This rehearsal was also one of my first experiences working with the U dance professor Erin Thompson. Her guidance gave me a greater understanding of physicality and how it shifts within different techniques. The cast of the piece, who were mainly third and fourth year students, influenced me to further my work ethic and performative exploration in each rehearsal. Through the support and encouragement of Hotchkiss, Thompson and the cast of the piece, performing Runaway was an experience that greatly influenced the direction I chose to continue my dance career after my recent graduation from the U.
With KEIGWIN + COMPANY. joining the Symphony Orchestra at Northrop on Apr 14, I am looking forward to seeing how the energy of sound manifests in the bodies of the dancers and how both artists influence each other’s performance throughout the arc of the work. I always find it majestic to have a live soundscape encompassing dance artists on stage and I’m ready to be at the edge of my seat.
KEIGWIN + Company is a fierce force in the contemporary dance world. With their dynamic and witty presence, they truly bridge the commercial and concert dance worlds. Art and entertainment come together as Larry Keigwin’s sense of imagination, joy, and positivity shines through in his work. The company’s dancers radiate with distinct voices in the repertoire, and this emanates as they continues to surprise audiences with innovative movement vocabulary and choreographic themes. Alive and rich with possibility, the company embraces humanity, humor, teamwork and collaboration as the foundation of their signature style.
Beyond experimenting with fresh ideas in the studio, K+C also has an admirable history of community outreach and educational engagement. They understand the power of immersing everyday people - not just dancers - in the choreographic process. Through past projects like Bolero and the upcoming Dance at the Gym workshop anyone can share in the exciting opportunity to dance to iconic musical masterpieces, while directly engaging with Larry, the company, and professional dancers in the community. Their educational outreach programs continue to grow, offering accessible and valuable tools for professional/pre-professional dancers in the world today. Dance is supposed to be fun, not only technically demanding and precise! While these elements are integral and evident in the company’s dancers, it is clear to see that they transcend those limitations and expand beyond the norm while embracing the J.O.D. (Joy of Dance!)
KEIGWIN + Company is a rare gem in today’s dance world. With power and grace, they are paving a path in the direction dance is heading.
Here are some fact facts about the ballet, the company and the version Northrop fans will see.
Swan Lake is often considered the “epitome of classical ballets.” The ballet originally premiered in 1877 in Moscow, Russia, and has been adapted many times since.
The roles of the White Swan and Black Swan are typically played by the same ballerina, with the characters distinguished by their dance styles. Odette, the White Swan, is fragile, elegant and pure and represents perfection. Odile, the Black Swan is sharp, confident and mean-spirited and represents emotion.
Houston Ballet started off as a dance school in 1955 and became a professional company in 1969. Ben Stevenson, OBE became the Artistic Director in 1976 and remained the artistic director until 2003, when Stanton Welch AM took over the role.
The Houston Ballet has been performing Swan Lake since 1977, when it premiered the show at Jones Hall in Houston.
Welch reworked the original Swan Lake choreography in 2006 to give it a 21st-century pace. His work adds a third persona to the White Swan/Black Swan character: Odette as a maiden, before a curse condemned her to live as swan.
Welch’s Swan Lake set and costume designer, the late Kristian Fredrikson, drew from Pre-Raphaelite art and includes a dragon motif throughout the story to instill more magic and mysticism into the sorcerer's story.
A Houston Press review of Swan Lake declares, “The fairy world of Welch's Swan Lake is filled with mystery, intrigue, and an adult sense of whimsy that feels both magical and mature.”
After the movie Black Swan premiered, demand for Swan Lake ballet performances skyrocketed. Black Swan, starring Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis, took an in-depth look at what it takes to play a character such as the Black Swan, and how truly committing to a character as dark as Odile can affect a dancer’s mental state.
Sebastien Ramirez is a Frenchman of Spanish descent. He became obsessed with hip-hop dance at 13. He became a proficient B-boy (break dancer) and in 2007 represented France at the Red Bull BC One Championship, where he was named one of the best dancers in the world.
Borderline combines hip-hop and contemporary dance as well as performers hooked up to an aerial rigging system, allowing them to defy gravity.
Jean-Philippe Barrios, aka Lacrymoboy, created Borderline’s music. Along with the music, the performance includes spoken word voice overs that are testimonials from the dancers, friends and family members.