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The Buzz, 4-12: All-Star Line-up
Vonnegut joins Heller; Danny Celebrated; Tops for Tipton

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2007 The Dance Insider

Pearls Before Swine or, God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut

First books, like first loves, remain crystalline, fixed in memory because they're an entry into a new world. Herman Wouk's "The City Boy," Bernard Malamud's "The Natural," and Kurt Vonnegut's "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, or Pearls Before Swine" are that for me. I can recall the blue and white cover, I can remember where I was reading the Vonnegut, on a bus returning from a wilderness trip in Northern California where I'd developed a crush on a fellow counselor. Perhaps that ardor imbued the reading experience; perhaps the drama in the book elevated real life. I know that I remember the novel's histoire vividly today, three decades later; I can see Mr. Rosewater as clearly as I can see the girl. Thus reading from the AP this morning of Mr. Vonnegut's passing yesterday, at the age of 84, in the wake of brain injuries after a recent fall in his Manhattan house, I feel as though I've lost an intimate. Our hearts go out to Mr. Vonnegut's widow, legendary photographer and dance insider Jill Krementz, and their daughter, Lily Vonnegut, as well as Mr. Vonnegut's other survivors.

A Performance Party for Danny

Not too hard to come up with a transition between this item and the last; like Kurt Vonnegut, Danial Shapiro brought deep humor into our lives. If we were devastated by Dan's passing last October 3 at the tender age of 48, from prostate cancer, we also knew that Dan would be the first to find a way to let us release in laughter. ("Thanks for putting me after Vonnegut, Paul! Tough act to follow.") And, of course, dance. On May 5 at the Joyce Theater in New York, Dan's family, friends, colleagues and fans will release him with a celebration in dance and words -- his two preferred means of expression. Beginning at 2 p.m., the afternoon program includes speeches from Murray Louis, Maggie Morris, and Edward Winslow, and performances by Shapiro & Smith Dance and Kelly Drummond Cawthon. Danny will also perform, on video. A reception follows from 3 to 4 p.m.. Doors open at 1:30 p.m.. Reservations are not necessary, but for more information you can call Elsie Management at 718-797-4577. Donations in Danny's memory can be made to: US Too International Prostate Cancer Education and Support Network, 5003 Fairview Ave., Downers Grove, IL 60515, 800-808-7866.

If you can't be there for Danny May 5, there's one other way you can be: Get yourself and the men in your life tested for prostate cancer. As Danny, who was diagnosed in October 2002 at the age of 44, told the Dance Insider's Carol Seavey in 2004, contrary to popular thinking, "You need to be tested at 40, not 50." While the second leading cause of cancer death among men, prostate cancer is treatable if detected early on. Now, when I first read that as I was editing Carol's story, I thought, "Well, I should get tested, but do I really want more doctors putting their fists up my butt?" Second myth! This is a simple blood test, the PSA test (same in French, as I found out: "How you say, 'PSA test'?" "'PSA test.'"), which measures prostatic specific antigen levels. Danny spent the last four years of his life campaigning for men to get this test -- something he was convinced would have enabled him to catch his condition earlier if he'd known the test existed. Let's remember him by continuing the mission.

Danial Shapiro. Photo by and copyright Paul Virtucio, and courtesy Elsie Management.

Danial Shapiro. Photo by and copyright Tom Caravaglia, and courtesy Elsie Management.

You Light up My Life

Tere -- there's that name again -- O'Connor will host the Danspace Project Annual Gala, this year honoring lighting legend Jennifer Tipton, April 24 at Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church. He'll be joined by a stellar roster of performers, including the Trisha Brown and Paul Taylor companies, plus Deborah Hay, Annie-B Parson/Big Dance Theater, and Valda Setterfield & David Gordon/Pick Up Performance Co(s). Opening remarks will be delivered by choreographer and teacher Dan Wagoner and Tipton colleague Aaron Copp.

Festivities start at 6 p.m. with cocktails (in the St. Mark's garden if it's stopped snowing by then), followed by dinner at 7 p.m., performances at 9 p.m, and dessert and champaign. For more information, contact Peggy H. Cheng at 212-674-8112 or Peggy@DanspaceProject.org.


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