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Jack Anderson

Dance Party


"Dance Party"
Keigwin + Company
Chris Elam/Misnomer Dance Theater
NYU Skirball Center, Washington Square South, Greenwich Village
April 12 & 14 (closed)
Reviewed by Jack Anderson, April 15, 2007

How wonderful it is to live in a great city, especially a city that dances. No wonder, then, that "Dance Party," a program shared by Keigwin + Company and Chris Elam/Misnomer Dance Theater, made city life a perpetual block party.

Elam got things going with "Cast-Iron Crutches," a solo to music by John Williams in which he kept emerging from and returning to hunched positions with tangled limbs. Despite the title, he didn't use crutches, but let his determined body assume contortionist poses while Burke Wilmore's lighting occasionally cast odd shadows on the backdrop, including one that made Elam resemble an ostrich.

He was joined by Brynne Billingsley, Jen Harmer, Coco Karol, and Luke Wiley in the new "Future Perfect," to a sound score arranged by James Sizemore. Once again, Elam was fascinated by tangled limbs. Everyone often appeared perplexed and there were sudden contrasts, as in a solo for Wiley, in which he used his hands to pick up his legs and twist them around his body in tense convolutions before collapsing in a meditation posture. Much of the choreography looked deliberately awkward, as if Elam were celebrating awkwardness as an unavoidable fact of life.

Keigwin made "Dance Party" even more riotous. In his "Caffeinated," to Philip Glass, dance students from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts dashed madly while swigging from coffee mugs, thereby suggesting that coffee nerves can be invigorating. Keigwin's own troupe made "Natural Selection," to Michael Gordon, look more serious, for its dancers moving at terrific speed might have been surviving adversities.

But everything was happily riotous in Keigwin's new "Bolero," an unexpected interpretation of Ravel's familiar score choreographed for a cast of what looked like thousands; press releases promised 80 dancers, although there were less than 80 names listed in the program. Still, the cast which combined Keigwin's company with other professional dancers, students, community people, and children (a teensy baby among them) appeared huge in this ode to city life in which pedestrians met with innumerable amiable adventures.

There was a dog walker with two pooches. An especially amusing character was a fellow who stood while trying to unfold and read a newspaper (guess which one), only to find the pages falling hopelessly apart while advertising inserts dropped out of them. People opened and closed umbrellas in a rainstorm. They also embraced, unrolled a red carpet, and paraded on it like V.I.P.'s at some great event, which "Bolero" certainly was. Finally, as stage lights were extinguished, dancers raised cellphones aloft like Lady Liberty's torches and they were joined by people in the audience with their own cellphones, bringing "Bolero" to an exhilarating conclusion.

But more followed. The revelry on stage gave way to merriment in the lobby for the audience, complete with free food and drinks. What a great "Dance Party" this was.


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