Lakewood Cultural Center welcomed Keigwin and Company to the stage for K+C Celebrate Bernstein on Thursday, February 8, 2018. The weekday show was well attended and enthusiastically received. Larry Keigwin has joined worldwide communities in celebrating the centennial of Leonard Bernstein’s 1918 birth. A two-year global extravaganza of musical commemorations kicked off at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington on September 15, 2017. The widespread festivity and thousands of events honoring this legendary countryman are a testament to the position he holds in twentieth century American culture. Leonard Bernstein was a genuine American artist: father, grandfather, educator, composer, conductor, humanitarian. “World peace was a particular concern of Bernstein,” states the Leonard Bernstein at 100 web site.
Larry Keigwin’s brand of contemporary dance has enjoyed a lot of stage time since K+C’s debut performance at The Joyce Theater in Chelsea, New York in 2003. Artistic Director Larry Keigwin is a native New Yorker who has created dance for iconic dance organizations such as Paul Taylor Dance Company, Martha Graham Dance Company, the Juilliard School, Vail International Dance Festival, and a plethora of others nationally and internationally. Keigwin is a co-founder of the Green Box Arts Festival in Green Mountain Falls, Colorado. His eloquent pre-show allocution shared thoughts on Bernstein and on dancing mile high, and peaked interest in the imminent orchestral inspired movement.
In the mind of a dancer, the sun and moon cycle in measures and phrases of musicality and movement. The unpredictable yet inevitable composition of Bernstein’s music creates a sense of whimsy, grounded with a dash of realism, that Keigwin’s choreography captures and celebrates. The cross-genre creation of gestural modern contemporary choreography set to dynamic symphonic scores was acknowledged as pure entertainment in a culture of modern dance that can often challenge the audience to decode or unpack a thesis or theme, leaving furrowed brows rather than smiles and cheers. The six dancers were punctilious with their connection to the musical cadences and classical in their style, though at times not proficient in terms of performance quality and audience engagement. Zackery Betty and Gina Ianni shone in their embodiment of the intent to celebrate and communicate; they were generous and engrossing.
One must appreciate the classic look of a vibrantly colored scrim to illuminate a stage and highlight the musical electricity in a show. The dynamic intent and spatial juxtaposition of the choreography flowed through the luminance of the lighting design to create a welcoming and joyful space. The costumes did not enhance the audience experience and remained the same for the first three of four suites. The change to all white was welcome and impactful for the final piece, Waterfront.
There is a quote by Jean Baptiste Poquelin, the French playwright know by his stage name, Moliere, that punctuates the levity that unfolded in this show: “All the disasters of mankind, all the misfortunes that histories are so full of, the blunders of politicians, the miscarriages of great commanders-all this comes from the want of skill in dancing.” What a gift it is when the mirror of art reflects the joyful and creative nature of humanity, and that is precisely what Keigwin and Company gave the Denver dance community on this program. Music from another time takes us to another time, invigorates us from our daily exhaustion, and liberates us from the fury of social media. The way in which Leonard Bernstein fought for world peace was palpable in the theater that night. Thank you for the escape, K+C.
Shelly Chapple Clements was raised in rural Pennsylvania, in Amish Country. She was drawn to the city of Pittsburgh through dance at the young age of 9 and never looked back. Her dance education took her from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, to the National Academy of Arts in Champagne-Urbana, IL. Shelly returned east and graduated from the renowned Pittsburgh High School for Creative and Performing Arts after which she enjoyed a professional modern dance career in San Francisco from 1990-2002. She is a master instructor for young dancers and currently teaches ballet in Littleton and Highlands Ranch and is the Artistic Director of Youth Programs for DAMAGEDANCE. Shelly has been a Colorado resident since 2002 and holds Bachelor’s Degrees in Spanish Interpretation and Translation, Hispanic Literature, and Theatre Dance from Colorado Mesa University, and attended the master’s program at the School of Education and Human Development at University of Colorado Denver. Her passion for writing gives voice to the dancer who speaks not on the stage.