Hofstra dance grad Larry Keigwin choreographs campus show
The 9-minute original work called “The Hunt” stars current students
By Janelle Griffith
Larry Keigwin never imagined that at age 45, he would be heading back to school at Hofstra University. Albeit in a familiar role. But since the end of September, that’s been the reality for the Wading River native who has danced his way from the Metropolitan Opera to Broadway and back. Since earning a bachelor’s degree in dance from Hofstra in 1994 Keigwin has choreographed for Off-Broadway and Broadway productions, including “If/Then” starring Idina Menzel in 2014. He also founded the New York City-based Keigwin + Company, of which he is artistic director. Keigwin, who lives in Manhattan, returned to his Hempstead roots this semester: shifting his focus at least part time to his alma mater where he has been working with current dance students on an original work titled “The Hunt.” The routine will be among those performed at Hofstra’s fall dance concert Thursday, Nov. 30, through Sunday, Dec. 3. “The Hunt” is a 9-minute dance broken into two sections: one depicting pedestrian human behavior and the other incorporating more high-octane animalistic movements. Set to a pulsating score, Keigwin says this athletic dance explores predatory ideas, the chase and the pursuit of dreams to highlight similarities between the animal kingdom and human community. “The Hunt” incorporates ballet, modern, contemporary and hip-hop dance styles.
BACK TO THE CLASSROOM
“With this production, I really enjoyed being back on the Hofstra campus after 23 years,” Keigwin says. “It was very nostalgic for me being back in the same dance studio where I danced for hours as a college student fine-tuning my artistry.”
It was also inspirational to students like Julian Donahue, a third-year dance major, who worked with Keigwin on “The Hunt.” Donahue says it is not uncommon for students to be mentored by industry professionals as part of the university’s dance program but working with one of their own was a bit more meaningful.
“Larry is probably the most distinguished guest we’ve had — super well-known, super established,” says Donahue, 20, of South Hempstead. Keigwin choreographed a dance for the school’s 2009 fall dance concert.
A BROAD TOUR
Keigwin has been working as a professional dancer since he graduated from Hofstra — a total of 23 years. And his career has taken him around not just New York, but the world.
In 1999, he was the associate choreographer and featured dancer in the Off-Broadway production “The Wild Party” by Andrew Lippa. In 2002, he performed in the Broadway show “Dance of the Vampires” and in 2011, he choreographed for the Off-Broadway production of the musical “Rent.” In March, his dance company traveled to Africa for a four-week tour and residency co-sponsored by the U.S. State Department and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
This fall, Keigwin was invited by Rachel List, the director of dance at Hofstra, to collaborate with students — who range in age from 19 to 22 — from the dance department on an original piece. The decision was “an easy yes,” Keigwin says.
Despite his resume, he found little difference in working on Broadway versus working with university students.
“My creative process remains the same — very collaborative, fun and fast,” Keigwin says. “The biggest difference might actually be the amount of time to create.”
Deadlines are tighter on Broadway, where there is a greater emphasis on telling the story, Keigwin says. In the university setting, it’s more about the progression of the individual dancers.
Keigwin and the 18 students spent 20 hours choreographing “The Hunt” and two-plus months perfecting it.
“It was definitely collaborative but it was really under his leadership,” Donahue says. “It felt like everyone was putting in effort.”
Donahue says he plans to follow a similar career path as Keigwin by becoming a professional choreographer and one day opening his own dance studio. He believes his experience from “The Hunt” will aid in both pursuits.
Keigwin hopes the production teaches students about the thrill of the hunt as it relates to choreographing and dancing professionally.
Says Keigwin, “I hope the students learn about the tools of composition, gain a few secrets about how to collaborate and gain a better perspective of how to work in the creative process.”