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"IF YOU MISS THIS HOOT OF A PERFORMANCE, YOU HAVE ONLY YOURSELF TO BLAME."

July 30, 2008

Dance to the "Elements"
Keigwin brings earth, fire, air and water to the Joyce stage

by Elizabeth Zimmer / Metro New York

Heads up! Larry Keigwin, the premier choreographer of the MTV generation, is at the Joyce today (twice!) and Friday. If you miss this hoot of a performance, you have only yourself to blame.

The 36-year-old Keigwin, from Wading River, Long Island, has the body of a gym rat, the face of a juvenile delinquent and dance technique to die for. His 5-year-old ensemble, making its Joyce debut, is equally skilled. Their new "Elements," organized around themes of water, fire, earth and air, goes by in a gust of quick takes, cutting deeper than you'd expect.

"Water," for example, looks like a romp at a beach club, with hunky guys and tidy maids serving the every need of aristocrats. Using towels and bottled water as props, Keigwin reveals the brattiness of spoiled rich kids. A quartet for the lovely Ying-Ying Shiau, in a polka-dot bikini, and three guys in terry robes punctuates every verse of Cole Porter's sexy "Let's Do It."

Though the dances are brief and funny, they have a deeply satisfying physicality. To accompaniments ranging from Mozart to hip-hop to Perry Como, they reveal the essence of each element. "Fire" shows us flickering fingers and the satisfactions of smoking, revealed by some glammed-up superheroes. "Air" salutes the '50s with smashing lifts by a pilot and a crew of flight attendants.

There are a few misfires, like a balloon climax at a moment that calls for glitter. In the "Earth" section, represented by a clutch of lizards crawling on a strip of Astroturf, Liz Prince's witty costumes almost steal the show; it's hard to see movement on bodies clothed in clashing plaids. But overall, "Elements" is a delight.

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