March 22, 2012
Written by: Brandon Cournay
Since our thrilling adventure and performances at the Kennedy Center, KEIGWIN + COMPANY has been hard at work in the studio creating our first new work of the year.
German chemist and scholar Ernst Fischer is famously quoted for saying, “I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.” Larry Keigwin is spot on with that quote regarding his newest dance, Contact Sport, a quartet involving four of the company’s male dancers. Larry’s brothers served as inspiration for his newest piece that is physical, comical, raw, and playful. “Contact Sport is a collage of many things that I love. The title that I love, the music that I love, and the siblings that I love,” Larry notes.
After rehearsal last week, dancers Matthew Baker, Aaron Carr, Gary Schaufeld, and myself sat down for a roundtable discussion about our inspirations and interpretations of this new work, onstage and off.
Our conversation began with a glimpse of nostalgia, discussing our most vivid childhood memories. Matt speaks of taking road trips with his family, Gary recalls accidentally locking himself into a room, Aaron reminisces about the tire swing in his back yard, and I recall introducing myself as Dorothy and singing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ every opportunity I could get. Gary brought up a good point by saying, “We are always teaching and exposing each other to different things… There is definitely a feel of male camaraderie (in the piece).”
Larry has extraordinary skill for excavating and showcasing the individual in his works. Matt hits our creative process on the nose, “Our real relationships have influenced the work.” Lead by Larry’s talents, we quickly realize that our offstage friendship and bond has influenced our onstage personas. Larry acknowledged the brotherly love by saying, “…It’s a blend between the personalities of my brothers and of you guys and how you react.”
For example, one day before rehearsal, Aaron and I just started playing superman; that super awesome game of balancing another’s hips on your feet and flying. You know you’ve done it… and loved it! We were nonchalantly laughing, playing, and goofing around, and then next thing you know, an entire phrase is being created based off of that moment. Choreographically, Contact Sport references all of the things brothers do when they are growing up; wrestling, tag, wet willies, and red rover.
We react and sometimes encourage the natural masculine competitiveness that comes into play, but what is making this piece substantial is the bond and underlying support you see come alive. Aaron references the nature of the piece by saying, “It feels like we are out back… playing on the ropes course… waiting for dinner to be ready.” Throughout the piece, we often find ourselves shoulder-to-shoulder as if we are posing for family photos.
“…Learning about the personas, letting the audience have a chance to get comfortable with the people they are seeing. The things that are instant for us as friends. That’s what I want the audience to see and relate to. The bro-ness, the camaraderie ,” Matt says.
Family and friends is something we can all relate to. And, relate you will. We are individually pulling from our own experiences, but together creating new ones; ones we hope to share with you.
Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero.
Contact Sport will be previewed on our Next Stop for KEIGWIN + COMPANY: March 30th – April 4th at the Diana Wortham Theatre – Asheville, North Carolina.
photo credit : Matthew Murphy