How choice and chance affect life direction was the premise of If/Then, the Broadway musical Larry Keigwin choreographed a few years ago.
But for Keigwin – a self-described “gotta dance kid” – there was only one path, and he knew it even as a child growing up in Wading River, Long Island.
“I was 5 years old, dancing on the front lawn for passing cars,” he said. “I knew from an early age that I wanted to perform and that I had a gift for dance.”
“Dance is a powerful tool for communicating … It is not only an avenue for exercise but for thinking and for sharing. It can be diplomatic. It’s a gift. And it can be an incredible art form to bring communities together.”
—Larry Keigwin ’94
After years spent working on Broadway, off-Broadway, and around the world with his own dance company, he returned to Hofstra in 2017 to choreograph “The Hunt,” a high-octane composition featured in the annual Fall Dance Concert.
“I learned so much at Hofstra,” Keigwin said during a rehearsal for “The Hunt” at the Herbert Hall dance studio. “I was a sponge in this program. The minute I walked back into the studio, I was flooded with memories – incredible memories, incredible camaraderie, lots of laughter.”
Even as he built an impressive resume, Keigwin maintained strong ties to Hofstra. He returned to campus to guest choreograph a previous work in 2009. For his frequent collaborations with the dance program, he was recognized with a 2017 Award for Alumni Achievement.
“I keep coming back because I love it,” he said.
Julian Donahue ’19, a dance and political science major, performed in “The Hunt.”
“It’s been awesome to work with him. Larry is fun and creative and very professional. Just knowing that he is also a graduate of the program has given me so much school pride.”
That Keigwin continues to leave a mark on Hofstra and its students comes as no surprise to Dance Professor Robin Becker.
“No one could forget having worked with Larry, because he leaves quite an impression. I always used to joke that I didn’t know how he made it to his other academic classes. He used to be in every single dance class here, on every level. He was passionate to learn and grow.”
Following graduation in 1994, Keigwin started creating his own work, assisting with the Radio City Rockettes and dancing on Broadway. Just four years after earning his degree, Keigwin won a Bessie, one of New York’s top dance awards, for his performance in Mark Dendy’s Dream Analysis.
In 1999, he was the associate choreographer and featured dancer in the off-Broadway production of The Wild Party. In 2002, he danced in the Broadway show Dance of the Vampires. Before joining the creative team of If/Then, starring Idina Menzel, Keigwin choreographed the 2011 off-Broadway revival of Rent at New World Stages.
And then there’s Keigwin + Company, the dance company he founded in 2003. “We’ve traveled the world,” he said, “recently spending a month in Africa, and we perform regularly throughout the U.S.”
In “The Hunt,” Keigwin created an eight-minute contemporary dance piece, which incorporated elements of ballet, modern, contemporary, and hip-hop, and featured an 18-member cast. One section depicted pedestrian human behavior, and the other featured more predatory and animalistic movements. Keigwin also commissioned an original score composed by Adam Crystal and Curtis Macdonald.
“I’ve always had this fascination with animal behavior and human behavior,” he said. “Where do they intersect? How are they different? This is a quick, athletic, electrifying, very physical dance that really takes a look at our similarities and differences.”
Keigwin said he hopes the students he worked with over the period of about two months gained some insights about composition, collaboration, and the creative process. But most importantly, he hopes they embrace dance as a powerful tool that transcends the boundaries of the theater.
“Dance is a powerful tool for communicating,” he said “It is not only an avenue for exercise but for thinking and for sharing. It can be diplomatic. It’s a gift. And it can be an incredible art form to bring communities together.”