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More Flash Reviews
Flashback, 1-20: Cover Me
In "Anytown" with Shapiro & Smith, the Boss & Co.
(Editor's Note: The
Dance Insider has been revisiting its Flash
Review Archives. This Flash originally appeared on September
8, 2004. "Anytown, Stories of America" receives its New
York City premiere Tuesday at the Joyce Theater.)
By Carol Seavey
Copyright 2004 Carol Seavey
MINNEAPOLIS -- See a
dance concert. Get tested for prostate cancer.
Shapiro & Smith
Dance has undertaken a new campaign, PSA in USA, in conjunction
with its three-year national tour of the new "Anytown: Stories of
America," choreographed by Danial Shapiro and Joanie Smith to music
by Bruce Springsteen, Patti Scialfa, and Soozie Tyrell. PSA stands
for the Prostate Specific Antigen test.
"The goal is to test
one million men," Danial Shapiro said in a recent interview.
The campaign has been
undertaken in conjunction with the Us TOO International Prostate
Cancer Education and Support Network. At each or selected performances
of "Anytown," nurses will be in the lobby to give PSA tests. The
simple test involves drawing blood, which is sent to a lab. Results
will be mailed to participants. High levels of PSA in the blood
may indicate the presence of prostate cancer.
Shapiro was diagnosed
with prostate cancer at the age of 44 in October 2002. "You need
to be tested at 40, not 50," currently the recommended age for getting
tested, he urged. While the second leading cause of cancer death
among men, prostate cancer is treatable if detected early on.
Touch' from Shapiro & Smith's "Anytown: Stories of America."
Back row, left to right: Michael Blake, Joanie Smith and Danial
Shapiro (on bed), Carl Flink; center, l-r: Maggie Bergeron,
Jamie Ryan, Eddie Oroyan; front, l-r: Bernard Brown, Toni Pierce-Sands,
Laura Selle, Kelly Drummond Cawthon. Paul Virtucio photo courtesy
Shapiro & Smith.
"Anytown: Stories of
America," premiered August 18 at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis,
and will be reprised in 2005, including October 7 & 8 in Red Bank,
New Jersey, October 14 & 15 in Gainsville, Florida, October 21-23
in Philadelphia, October 28-29 in Boone, North Carolina, and November
1 & 2 in Asheville, North Carolina. (For information on venues,
please click here.)
Shapiro was in chemotherapy
for nine months during choreography, which brought new challenges.
"I had to learn to let the dancers make the choreography," he said.
"Give them images, situations, and let them work with that."
The dance emphasizes
the importance of family and community, driven by the music of Springsteen
and the E-Street band. Joanie Smith's sister is Soozie Tyrell, an
E-Streeter and the best friend of Scialfa, Springsteen's wife. Folk
and rock songs setting the pace for "Anytown" are Springsteen's
"Human Touch," "Youngstown," "The Big Muddy," "Ain't Got You," "Countin'
on a Miracle" and "Born in the USA"; three songs by Scialfa, including
the dynamic "City Boys"; and six by Tyrell, including "ferdouganal"
and "White Lines."
"We're very cognizant
of the American-ness of the music and the musicians," Shapiro said.
cast portrays three families and the struggles they endure. Theoretically,
they're all working class families in the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s, but the milieu could encompass
anytime, place or person.
The situations are timeless
and deep: a love triangle, a flood, death and more. The intense
story-line is countered by comedy and playful leaps and bounds,
although the heavy, thought-provoking content could use more light-hearted
The drama comes not
just from the struggles, but in how the characters persevere through
them. Family members turn to each other for support and carry each
other when times are tough. Communities band together in the face
The dancers wear everyday
clothes; they might have walked in off the street. The weighted
movement rolls with the music. At different times during the performance,
dancers melt with the baseline, give in to a rock 'n' roll beat
and express the lyrics.
and Danial Shapiro in the 'Big Black Heaven' section of Shapiro
& Smith's "Anytown: Stories of America." Paul Virtucio photo
courtesy Shapiro & Smith.
"You let the music take
you because the music is present," said dancer Toni Pierce-Sands.
Formerly a featured soloist with the Alvin Ailey American Dance
Theater, Pierce-Sands was awarded a 2004 McKnight Artist Fellowship.
For the three-year "Anytown"
tour, Shapiro & Smith Dance is evolving from a set of 10 dancers
and one technician on contract to a larger pool of interchangeable
dancers and technicians. "We used to spend a lot of time maintaining"
the company, Shapiro explained. The new structure will give the
dancers more flexibility and ensure that the production continues
if there are injuries. "These are not 'my' dancers, but they are
extraordinary," Shapiro said.
Carol Seavey is a journalism major and dance minor at St. Cloud
State University in Minnesota.