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Shaprio & Smith Dance takes its "Next Steps" 3/7/08

Shapiro & Smith Dance, a local modern dance company, will grace the stage of Minneapolis’ Southern Theater with their newest show "Next Steps," which introduces the company’s first new work since the death of co-artistic director Danial “Danny? Shapiro in 2006.

The evening-long modern dance show, which runs April 3 through April 6 at the Southern, consists of "What Dark/Falling Into Light" (premiere: 1996) and the premieres of "Miniatures" and "Accidentally Walking Through Nothing."


Miniatures, a dance that gives glimpses into people’s relationships, is the first new work choreographed without Shapiro.

Artistic director Joanie Smith said it was difficult to develop new material after her 21-year working relationship with Shapiro. Shapiro & Smith Dance was founded in 1985. Two years later, they premiered their first production in New York City. Smith said most of their early productions were duets between her and Shapiro and were based on human relationships.

Smith said Shapiro’s death has caused her to feel like half a person in the choreographic process. She also said the process felt odd because she couldn’t discuss the dances with her artistic partner.

To ease the creative process for this batch of new works, Smith brought in company member Laura Selle-Virtucio and former member Mathew Janczewski to discuss ideas with her.

Other company members aided the process by providing Smith with their own movement phrases. According to Smith, much of the movement given was “Danny like? because it was physically daring and athletic.

Throughout rehearsals, Smith said, Shapiro’s memory was everywhere. He is in the dancers’ movements, even though a handful of company members have trained with him, because they all have danced in his repertoire.

Smith also said Shapiro is ever present because the dancers constantly bring him up in conversation.

"Accidentally Walking Through Nothing" choreographed by company member Maggie Bergeron, will also be premiered in "Next Steps." Smith and Shapiro, before his death, chose Bergeron to participate in their first mentorship program, which offers financial and artistic support to young choreographers for new work.

Bergeron said her dance is about the stories we have to create and believe in order for us to get from one place to the other. “It also has to do with ideas of faith, doubt and proof,? she said.

"What Dark/Falling Into Light" will also be in "Next Steps." According to Smith, the piece is about the Holocaust and through its choreography, asks why and how such an event can be put on stage. Partial nudity highlights the vulnerability of the performers in the piece, she said.

To reserve tickets call the Southern Theater box office at 612-340-1725. Tickets are $24.