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'We’re laughing all the time, but we’re learning this difficult repertory, too'

June 27, 2013

The laughter -- and the booming bass line -- could be heard from down the hallway last week outside New York-based choreographer Larry Keigwin’s weeklong workshop through IU’s Contemporary Dance program.

keigwin dance workshop summer 2013

Choreographer Larry Keigwin’s weeklong workshop through IU’s Contemporary Dance program included dancers ranging in age from teens to 60s.

During one session, K + C Summer Intensive workshop participants paired up to create impromptu dances that involved moving through each other’s “negative” space. (Think Johnny telling Baby in "Dirty Dancing": “This is my dance space. This is your dance space. I don’t go into yours, you don’t go into mine,” and then deliberately breaking that rule, creating a beautiful give-and-take between two bodies.)

For a week in June, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the nearly 20 workshop participants -- who ranged in age from an incoming high school sophomore to two veteran dancers in their 60s -- came together for class, a teaching task the choreographer handled with aplomb.

“I love it,” Keigwin said. “My company does a project called ‘Bolero,’ where we work with dancers ages two to 82, so this is my home turf.”

Sixteen-year-old Cameron Barnett, who attends high school in Owen County and studies at the Dance Studio in Terre Haute, Ind., said he enjoyed being exposed to different types of dance through the workshop.

“The choreography, the new stuff we’re learning, it’s great,” he said. “I’ve really been able to see a lot of different styles.”

New-york based choreographer Larry Keigwin

Choreographer Larry Keigwin taught the workshop participants a dance called "Triptych," included in one of the repertories in his New York-based dance company, Keigwan + Company. Rick Cradick

The chance to interact with Keigwin and IU’s contemporary dance program is what drew former IU student Alejandro Fonseca to the workshop.

Fonseca recently put his studies on hold after learning he’d won a spot dancing with the Broadway touring show “West Side Story,” which will begin its tour in September, with a stop at IU Auditorium April 22 to 23.

“I love Larry’s work, and came back specifically to meet with him and learn from him,” Fonseca said. “His work is very, very current and edgy and beautiful.”

Incoming IU senior Samia Mooney said she appreciated the “intensive feel” of the workshop and individual attention, adding, “We’re laughing all the time, but we’re learning this difficult repertory, too. It’s a great atmosphere.”

Workshop participants learned technique, a dance in Keigwin’s company’s repertory called “Triptych” and a new dance the choreographer created just for the workshop. The workshop closed with a final performance on Friday, June 21, that showcased the week's work in an informal setting at a dance studio in the School of Public Health. 

A native New Yorker who graduated from Hofstra University (where he studied under Liza Gennaro, now a professor at IU), Keigwin founded his dance company, Keigwin + Company, in 2003.

He’s since done commission work for the Guggenheim, the Juilliard School, the New York City Ballet’s Choreographic Institute and the Martha Graham Dance Company; was the Vail International Dance Festival’s first artist-in-residence; and choreographed the new off-Broadway production of “Rent,” now running at New World Stages.

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