Dance + Entrepreneurship: Larry Keigwin pursues endeavors inside and outside of the dance studio
Ten years ago, New York native Larry Keigwin began an artistic venture that was intended to simply be a showcase of his work, a vehicle to get his choreography out in the New York dance stratosphere. But something special took hold back in 2003, and now, he has a fully fledged company with a jam-packed schedule of performances, tours, and residencies.
There is no denying the success of Keigwin + Company (K + C). But what makes this dance maker so noteworthy is much more than a list of choreographic accolades. What makes people stop and notice Keigwin is his commanding ability to engage new audiences with an aesthetic that is edgy, flecked with pop-culture influences. Even more so, what keeps Keigwin from being one of the many is his inclination to push himself outside of his comfort zone, pursuing new, exciting endeavors both inside and outside of the studio.
From new media initiatives, to live performances, and editorial ventures, the tenth anniversary season presents more opportunities for Keigwin and his dancers to challenge the boundaries that define contemporary dance and art.
Art meets media
ArtDesk, a bi-yearly glossy magazine that focuses on the arts in Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado. It cover all areas and aspects of contemporary art, including painting, sculpture, photography, installation, film, music, architecture, and of course, dance, and debuts in October 2013.
The concept evolved from discussions Keigwin had with Christian Keesee, who is the chairman of the board for the Kirkpatrick Foundation and publisher of ArtDesk. Both were passionate about the arts and bringing this zeal to the masses. The partnership and editorial endeavor seemed natural.
“It grew out of a love for sharing what we do,” says Keigwin in regards to the initial motivation behind ArtDesk. “I love magazines, reading, and story telling.”
Keigwin’s title is editor-at-large, which he says entails going to meetings to have an opinion and voice in regards to the dance component of the publication. Additionally, Keigwin contributes content—his article in the inaugural issue of ArtDesk features a Q & A with a student at The Dance Center of Oklahoma City Ballet.
He and Keesee are joined by a team of art and editorial professionals: editor Louisa McCune-Elmore, associate editor Abby Kurin, and art direction contributions from Polygraph, Gavin Wade, Jason Mannix, and Lindsay Mannix. They pooled their resources and expertise to bring the concept to fruition.
Keigwin is excited about its potential to expose dance to “connoisseurs of different art forms,” a sort of “cross-pollination.” He is always interested in showing “dance in the context of contemporary art” and further exploring this intersection of art and business.
Googling #sharethemattress pulls up a series of YouTube videos, which feature notable individuals of varying industries. The choreographed videos are not coincidental, rather an outside-of-the-box marketing tactic.
The idea came about during a brainstorming session on ways to celebrate the tenth anniversary season, according to Keigwin. Inspired by one of his first dances Mattress Suite, a duet with K + C founding dancer Nicole Wilcott. there are 11 40-second videos total. One will be released each week leading up to The Joyce Theater season.
It is a fun, inventive way to spark excitement about the upcoming performances and reach people. Featuring some of the individuals who inspired Keigwin throughout his career, he hopes the videos will inspire others to create their own and share them with K + C.
See Keigwin + Company
Keigwin + Company hits the ground running for its tenth anniversary season with a week of performances at The Joyce Theater in New York City. The program features two New York premieres and two signature pieces.
Girls is the companion piece to Boys, which Keigwin choreographed two years ago. A female trio set to four Sinatra songs, he says it has a “theatrical flair…and a pop sensibility.”
Created for the Vail International Dance Festival, Canvas showcases both the classical and contemporary strengths of K + C company dancers and an original score by Adam Crystal. Paying homage to the company’s roots, Mattress Suite and Natural Selection round out the evening.
Beyond season 10
While the tenth anniversary season reflects on past successes, its intention is to set the framework for the future, according to Keigwin. He plans to build on the K + C mission of “bringing accessible, entertaining, and provocative dance to new audiences” as well as move into new avenues of the performing arts.
“I am interested in creating more dance on film, creating a dance musical, creating ballets, and of course, increasing performance opportunities for my dancers,” says Keigwin. Ambitions aside, he sums up the season with a strong sentiment, “It’s fun to look back, but it’s more important to be present and plan for our future.”
As the economy continues to change and people’s priorities shift, American arts organizations are forced to reevaluate themselves as an evolving as a business. What this looks like will vary from institution to institution. But, whether big or small, change is afoot, and it is reassuring to know individuals like Keigwin are taking note.