Danial Shapiro and Joanie Smith

Article excerpt

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. …