This performance in the popular annual series was full of the splendidly athletic, intelligent, and sensual movement that audiences have come to expect from DANCEworks and from choreographer Larry Keigwin. After his daring and clearly time-intensive community “Bolero” of April 2010, Keigwin certainly earned the break from producing a fully staged community dance number this time, and the resulting community dance video, “Showtime,” was fun and lively as it took viewers on a trip around town, from the dolphin fountain at the base of Stearns Wharf to the Mission, and back to the roof of the Lobero-adjacent parking garage.
The first live dance of the evening was a recent (2102) piece called “Twelve Chairs” that mesmerized with its vast and swinging multiplicity. Twelve folding chairs plus 12 great dancers added up to the most advanced version of musical chairs ever. In constantly shifting waves of synchronized movement, the dancers sat, strolled, stepped, spun, and leaped around, over, and even under the 12 chairs. “Twelve Chairs” set both the wildly inventive tone for the rest of the evening and the high expectations for imaginative use of the ensemble and the space. When, after perhaps a dozen configurations had been applied and then modified, the chairs took up an alternative diagonal orientation, the effect was breathtaking; as in the final bars of a brilliant piece of music, the finish gave the sense of things falling naturally into place.
Next up was a male quartet called “Boys,” which was performed to a medley of familiar hits as tarted up by the eternally sassy Eartha Kitt. The dancers, dressed in white shirts and gray pants and ties (three pairs of shorts, one long) careened around the stage as variations on a single unit, using some traditional lifts along with a whole range of kinetic embraces. All four men danced to some of the songs, while other tunes served as the basis for solos and duets. The overall impact was of four men working closely together, and it was thrilling to watch.
“Runaway,” from 2008, again brought on the entire 12-person troupe, this time in crazy bright-colored outfits that included extreme bouffant wigs for the women. The piece used both the full extent of the Lobero’s deep stage as well as the theater’s aisles, and the mood gathered in intensity until the final section, in which most of the dancers tossed off most of their clothes. The second half of the show brought the two new pieces that were worked on during this residency out first. “Girls,” a trio done to a Frank Sinatra medley, made amusing use of a series of flashy fringe curtains that appeared to have been made out of the same Mylar material as the faux “icicles” sometimes used on Christmas trees. Ashley Browne, Emily Schoen, and Jaclyn Walsh bobbed in and out of this forest of bling, in what came off as a slightly toned-down version of the earlier quartet for the boys. The next piece, “Seven,” added Matthew Baker, Aaron Carr, Gary Schaufeld, and Brandon Cournay to the mix, bringing the three women from “Girls” with them into a gorgeous, relaxed, and fluid movement world. This new piece was the highlight of the evening, and generated a tremendous sense of release out of the company’s travel along the stage’s big diagonals. The final piece, danced again by the full company, featured strong, athletic club-style moves, black vinyl- and glitter-adorned costumes, and music by Steve Reich and MIA. It made a fittingly celebratory conclusion to another great DANCEworks season.