Keigwin + Company’s EXIT

Gary Schaufeld, Aaron Carr, and Ashley Browne in Larry Keigwin's EXIT, photo by Christopher Duggan

Well, Larry Keigwin’s EXIT is definitely more rewarding than the promotional videos.  Thank goodness.  But I still left The Joyce Theater, where Keigwin + Company premiered the work last week, feeling unsatisfied.

It seems like the goal was to make a fierce, wild piece oozing with sex appeal and curiosity about these seven individuals’ dark habits, which was the original title of the piece before it was renamed EXIT shortly before the premiere.  The characters are undoubtedly fierce, but there are also hints of their vulnerability and uncertainty.  Yet, too often the opportunities to explore the hidden sides of the dancers are abruptly replaced with bland showiness.   By the end, I was frustrated.  Dig a bit deeper, I want to say.  Also, please share whatever is lurking behind the back door from which the dancers enter and exit.

A series of vignettes set to Christopher Lancaster and Jerome Begin’s edgy, energetic score feature duets and trios that have a push-pull quality.  In the dark club setting, there’s a sense of “surveying the scene” as the dancers shift from one gathering to another, and occasionally push through the back door.  Two dancers gravitate to one another, but then suddenly one breaks away and flings herself at someone else.  Desire is immediately followed by disgust.

In the piece’s flashier moments, the dancers strut in glow-in-the-dark stilettos and jump through confetti that shoots from the wings.  Woven into these high energy scenes are some quieter, more contemplative moments that attempt to reveal the dancers’ fragility.  The men (particularly Aaron Carr) must be commended for their ability to move seamlessly from technical feats to subtler gestures.  But just when EXIT seems like it’s reaching new depths, like a curious detail about one of these night creatures, it snaps back to the thumping, crowd-pleasing beat of the club – leaving me feeling a bit irritated.  Why not go there?  Why not reveal what’s behind that back door?

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