Keigwin + Company has been aggressively promoting their upcoming Joyce Theater premiere, called Dark Habits, with weekly videos that feature each of the dancers. Watch some of the videos below and you’ll understand the heightened anticipation. They more closely resemble something you’d see on an MTV reality series than the choreography that I’ve previously seen by artistic director Larry Keigwin.
Yes, they’re dark, edgy, and risqué. But they’re also shallow. Most of all, the videos exemplify conformity, not creativity. They’re complete sell-outs, affirming that sex sells. And that’s what makes them both effective and so atrocious. By essentially selling the dancers’ bodies, the ads are cheapening them and devaluing them in a way that is offensive, especially since these are such artistically and technically skilled individuals. I was particularly impressed when I saw them in Works and Process at the Guggenheim. Sure, maybe the dancers had fun making these videos, but why succumb to the “sex sells” concept when you can rise above it? Of course, this happens all the time in pop culture and nobody bats an eye. That doesn’t make it ok.
I wish Keigwin had more faith in his dancers’ talents, and also more faith in audiences. A snazzy, smart video that gets butts in seats doesn’t need to have half-naked dancers gyrating and strutting seductively (I should mention that I made plans to attend the performance before seeing the videos, and I’ll still attend because I’ve enjoyed their work in the past and sincerely hope that the piece will have more depth than their ads). So, Mr. Keigwin, if you or your staff are reading this, I urge you, in the future, to create videos that don’t cheapen your work. You and your company are better than that. Otherwise you’re selling out, and undermining both your dancers’ talent and your own as an artistic director and choreographer.