By TOM CHESEK
Addressing a stageful of local residents at Two River Theater last Thursday night, Larry Keigwin framed a pre-rehearsal peptalk with “It’s great how in this digitally saturated age, we’re all doing something together that’s live and interactive.”
The occasion that brought the award winning choreographer together with a group of several dozen Monmouth County neighbors — an eclectic collection that boasts at least one septuagenarian, six or seven primary school kids and a dog — is a project by the name of Bolero Red Bank.
Designed exclusively for the Red Bank area audience, the dance piece uses the magnificent musical merry-go-round of Maurice Ravel’s “Bolero” as the soundtrack to a celebration of the greater Red Bank area — and the things that the people who live here love the most about it. And, when Bolero Red Bank hits the stage of the Bridge Avenue performing arts center this Friday and Saturday night, it will prove to be something of a “day at the beach” for audience and participants alike.
With as many as 60 local “pedestrians” expected to take part in the one-weekend show, Bolero Red Bank will encapsulate the spirit of summertime recreation and Shore life through movement, humor, and accessories that range from roller skates, boogie boards and hula hoops, to metal detectors, kites and Frisbees. It’s a colorful theme that quickly emerged from talks that Keigwin conducted with his amateur cast — all of whom responded to an open-call audition at the theater on July 9.
“I get a lot of joy out of cooperating with the performers,” explains the NYC-based choreographer — who, contrary to the stereotype of the dictatorial director, welcomes suggestions from the cast regarding costumes and onstage business.
“I do a little research before I come to town, but I trust the people. The people know their community, and the kind of characters who live in it.”
The founder of the Keigwin + Company troupe has organized “Bolero” presentations to great acclaim in several other American cities, from Akron (“we had 50 tires on stage”) and Santa Barbara (“lots of surf and sand”) to the suburbs of Fairfield County (“shopping carts”). In fact, it was Two River Theater Company artistic director John Dias who, having witnessed that production of “Bolero Suburbia,” invited Keigwin to work his magic on Bridge Avenue — a prospect that left the choreographer “really jazzed about bringing this to Red Bank.”
In advance of the two public performances on July 20 and 21 [previously misreported as July 27 and 28], an intensive schedule of rehearsals found dozens of participants taking time out from their everyday lives — among them Lorraine Stone of Eatontown.
“What I love most is that this is a chance for the community to get into the act,” says Stone, a performance artist, writer and grandmother who can often be seen dancing at the evening drum circles on the Asbury Park boardwalk. “Any excuse to dance!”
As for Ravel’s “Bolero” — a popular classic that received its widest exposure through the 1970s Bo Derek-Dudley Moore movie “10″ — Keigwin selected a New York Philharmonic recording that clocks in at a satisfying 15 minutes, a window that the choreographer points out “relates to the Andy Warhol quote about everyone being famous for fifteen minutes.”
“Dancers from our company will also be there on stage, guiding people and adding more dance elements to the piece,” explains Keigwin. “It’s the responsibility of a choreographer to make everyone look good, and play to their strengths.”
Bolero Red Bank will be performed as the centerpiece of an 8 pm program that also features four short works (Caffeinated, Love Songs, Triptych and Contact Sports) spotlighting the professional dancers of Keigwin + Company. Tickets ($20, $37, $42) are still available and can be reserved right here.