Engaging in dance + love

Engaging in dance + love

WHEN Tonight at 8.

WHERE Reynolds Theater, Bryan Center, West Campus, Duke University, Durham.

COST $25; half-price student rush.

CONTACT www.americandancefestival.org; 684-4444, www.tickets.duke.edu.

NEXT UP Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE, Thursday-Saturday, Page Auditorium.

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Orla Swift, Staff Writer
DURHAM – The athleticism alone is jaw-dropping, with leaps, falls and perpetual motion. But Keigwin + Company’s defining movements are far simpler: a glance, a nod, a grin.
Larry Keigwin and his troupe aren’t just athletes, they’re individuals. And their personalities come through in even the most athletically demanding passages. The seven dancers have a chemistry that mere choreography cannot create. It feels good to come to know them, and Keigwin provides ample opportunity.

A native New Yorker who formed his own company just three years ago, Keigwin is a master of mini-dramas. And this year’s program, with three world premieres, features a new batch.

“Love Songs” is the evening’s most engaging new work. Set to pop, R&B and torch songs, it features three couples in six vignettes that illustrate different aspects of relationships.

Liz Riga and Julian Barnett give us pure lust and conflict in their wild, dysfunctional dances to Aretha Franklin’s “Baby I Love You” and “I Never Loved a Man.” Keigwin and associate artistic director Nicole Wolcott represent co-dependency. Dancing to Nina Simone’s “Ne Me Quitte Pas” (“Don’t Leave Me”) and “I Put a Spell on You,” their unusual movements suggest that they don’t belong together, but neither has the strength to go it alone.

Ying-Ying Shiau and Alexander Gish are heartwarming as they advance from longing to love. Dancing to Neil Diamond’s “Save Me a Saturday Night,” Shiau and Gish seem like dolls, attempts at interaction thwarted by restricted movements. In them, we see people so concerned with appearances that they lose their chance at romance. By their second dance, set to Diamond’s “Delirious Love,” the awkward pair reveal their infatuation and are rewarded with intimacy.

“Orbit,” a premiere set to Steve Reich’s “Drumming Part I,” is more abstract. A fast-paced sextet, it plays with notions of gravity and revolution as they relate to everything from planets to social cliques and even the changing orbits.

“A Modern Line,” the other premiere, was the least intriguing work on the program, which also included “Urban Birds,” a popular 2002 trio, and “Self Portrait #1,” a Keigwin solo from 2005.

Set to Ravel’s “Bolero” and created in a week using ADF dancers and local residents, “A Modern Line” is inspired by Broadway’s “A Chorus Line.” But the drama of auditions is an oft-told tale, particularly with such television hits as “So You Think You Can Dance.”

With 44 dancers, it made a grand finale. But not nearly as grand as the rest of this brief, satisfying show.

Staff writer Orla Swift can be reached at 829-4764, oswift@newsobserver.com or blogs.newsobserver.com/adf.

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