Dance Students and Professionals Make Art Together

The College of Fine Arts and Communication’s “Great Artists, Great Speakers” series produced another exciting opportunity for students this April.

Last Thursday, April 17, Larry Keigwin and his dance troupe Keigwin + Company performed at Sentry @1800, in addition to giving a masterclass at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point that morning.

Keigwin is described in his biography as “a native New Yorker and choreographer who has danced his way from the Metropolitan Opera to downtown clubs to Broadway and back.”  Keigwin + Company is based out of New York City.

Joan Karlen, a professor of dance at UWSP and dance program coordinator, has played a large role in bringing the event together.

Photo by Whitney Browne

Photo by Whitney Browne

“Each year in the dance program we bring in a guest choreographer that presents work on ‘Danstage,’ so in a four year period dancers get the chance to work with four professional choreographers,” Karlen said.

This year, students will be performing two of the four sections from the work entitled “Air,” choreographed by Keigwin.  The work is being taught to students and staged by Jaclyn Walsh, a member of Keigwin + Company.

Walsh is a seasoned dancer who has performed many of Keigwin’s works.

“I’ve set “Air” before with a company in Boston and I’m familiar with the work,” Walsh said.  “It’s one of the things that I performed as a company member a few years ago.”

In addition to teaching the work to students, Walsh is also running  four masterclasses for dance majors and minors.

“I find it super rewarding, I love working specifically with college students…It’s being there not only as their teacher and as guidance but also as their friend who has gone through the same things they have been going through,” Walsh said.

Having a group of professionals such as Keigwin + Company provides students not only with a great opportunity to learn technique but also to network with professionals.

“Nowadays companies rarely even hold open auditions, everything is just through word of mouth and networking yourself,” Walsh said.

Michael Estanich, a professor of the Theatre and Dance Department, also spoke about these networking opportunities.

“To make that connection for students interested in moving to New York, they can attend a class that Larry Keigwin is teaching and feel a little bit at home,” Estanich said.

Estanich also talked about the chance students have to perform one of Keigwin’s works.

“When we knew that Keigwin + Company was going to be our featured dance event, we thought it was going to be a great opportunity for us to tie in a piece of repertoire from that company,” Estanich said.

“Air” will be performed as part of the Theatre and Dance Department’s “Danstage” and will be recorded so Keigwin himself may see the performance by UWSP students.

Danstage will be performed in Jenkins Theatre in the NFAC May 2 through 4 and May 7 through 9.

Aaron Voeks

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