Self-presented in association with Joyce SoHo at Joyce SoHo, 155 Mercer St., NYC, Feb. 28-March 2.
While it is always a treat to see the pixyish Larry Keigwin dance—his compact body darting about the space like a frisky chipmunk with crackerjack technique—the evening of his choreography, presented at Joyce SoHo, quadrupled the pleasure. To join him in performing his lively, soul-stirring works, Keigwin assembled four dancers whose twinkling kinesthetic talents match his own.
The impish Verena Tremel—who exudes a female version of Keigwin's winsomeness—performed the first solo in the premiere of "Female Portraits" with remarkable dramatic skill. Confining herself to a square space delineated by four lines of tiny stuffed animals, she showed us the complicated inner life of a little girl whose happiness with herself is not completely innocent. The work's assistant choreographer, Nicole Wolcott, then electrifyingly embodied adolescent angst with rapid vibrations and striking linear moves before Ashley Gilbert brought the piece to a wild close with an emotionally sophisticated portrait of a powerful, professional woman's mature sensuality.
In "Straight Duet," Keigwin and co-choreographer Wolcott portrayed a nervous, newly married couple. Their anxieties about intimacy are played out with great choreographic ingenuity as they engage in myriad comic and poignant shenanigans on, over, and around a mattress. The resulting dance contains some physically spectacular moments within an involving narrative about characters we very quickly grow to love. What more could an audience ask for?
Keigwin's program delivered the gamut. In addition to the expressive, character-driven works, it included the choreographer's performance of his scrumptious signature solo, "Sunshine," and the premieres of two pure movement pieces: a quintet and a trio. Five bodies moving quickly around each other as if playing a game of dares creates riveting tension in "Tetris," while the stressful intricacies of the dancing fit smartly into the uneasy sounds of a John Adams score. Not soft, fluttery, or feathery, Keigwin's three "Urban Birds" exhibit avian mannerisms, but have strong muscles and feel too heavy to fly. Yet they like lifting each other, and they soar through a range of suspiciously human-like behaviors and relationships. By the end, we realize that this seemingly abstract movement exploration is actually, like all of Keigwin's work, firmly "grounded" in the human condition.