The joint choreography of Danial Shapiro and Joanie Smith is distinguished by playfulness and by daring athleticism. While the physical demands they make on their well-chosen dancers--and on themselves--are ingenious, a certain predictability has gradually set in. It's encouraging, therefore, to report that this program found them exploring a change in direction.
Earlier this season, their Fathers and Sons for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater began the trend by exchanging humor for a touch of irony. The two newest pieces go deeper than Fathers and Sons: Both deal with family memories; both take off from the dark ruminations of actor-playwright David Greenspan.
In her solo The Picture of Its Flashes Through My Mind, Smith journeyed through a phantasmagoria about her invalid mother. She confined her sequence of taut, sometimes fetal, shapes to the limited expanse of a carpet. Doris Humphrey always said, "All dances are too long." With this perhaps echoing in her ears, Smith made one that was actually too short to lodge a full impact. It was as though she had been jolted from the nightmare before its conclusion.
Shapiro and Smith collaborated on What Dark/Falling into Light. Deeply stirred by a visit to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and by the concentration camp experiences of Shapiro's great-grandparents, they experimented with turning dramatic reality into abstraction. …