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Flash Sendoff, 10-11: Shit Shit!
The Dancer who Died Before he was too Old to Dance
"And everything dies baby that's a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back."
-- Bruce Springsteen, "Atlantic City."
(Editor's Note: Judging from the letters we've received since Danial Shapiro passed October 3, there was no such thing as a casual contact with the late choreographer and dancer. Dan was a man literally inclined into life, and his indelible interactions show this. To read a full memorial profile of Dan, click here. To read about "ANYTOWN," his last work with life and work partner Joanie Smith, and how he combined its tour with a cancer education campaign, click here. And to read about what made Danial Shapiro special, read on. -- PBI.)
Danny was an incredibly vivid and buoyant personality. He was such a gifted, athletic and passionate dancer and he was also savvy and charismatic. He was generous to me and to many other colleagues. I learned from watching him, dancing with him, and talking to him about dance and dancing. I miss his laugh and his twinkle and his encouragement. I think the dance world has lost an important force.
Associate Professor, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
Former Soloist, Nikolais Dance Theater
|Danial Shapiro and friend Max. Photo by and copyright Elizabeth Auer.
Danial Shapiro served as a NYSCA Dance Panelist from 1996 - 2000. He was an exemplary panelist -- objective, a keen observer of dance, very
conscientious about his responsibilities -- also charming and witty. He
is a great loss to the dance field, as an artist and as a wonderful
Director, Dance Program
New York State Council on the Arts
With brave grace and utter chutzpah, Danny danced his way through his life with cancer. It will be my absolute honor to continue my work for "ANYTOWN: Stories of America" -- the work he and Joanie put everything aside for in order to create once they received his diagnosis four years ago.
Please encourage the men in your life to get the simple blood test that measures psa (prostatic specific antigens) levels. Danny would have wanted nothing less and spent the last four years promoting this test -- something he was convinced would have enabled him to catch his condition earlier if he'd known the test existed.
Company Representation for Shapiro & Smith
We were all close when we were with Murray's company and have stayed in touch since. It is hard to imagine Danial not walking the world with his good humor and kindly heart.
Micocci Productions, LLC
I met Danny while my ex-husband was dancing for Murray Louis. In one
conversation during an after-performance dinner in Paris, I remember we
discovered that we were both born on the same exact day at the same time in
New York. From then on we would joke that we were twins. I lost touch with
Danny and Joanie until this year, when "Anytown" came to my tiny mountain town in Western North Carolina. I smiled through the whole performance, so
grateful to see Danny and Joanie up on stage one more time -- I had no idea
it would be the last time. I am incredibly sad and will miss my "twin."
I did not know Dan or Joanie well but I presented Shapiro & Smith a number of years ago and had always intended to have the company back. I especially enjoyed their interaction with my dance community members and the classes they taught, as well as their wonderful and easy interaction with each other. I saw Dan about two years ago (I think) at a National Performance Network annual meeting and he was his usual eloquent and ebullient self. It was quite a shock to read the news that he had died. My sympathy and best wishes go out to Joanie Smith and all friends and family.
Contemporary Dance Theater, Inc.
I am so sad to hear this news. The world and the dance world have lost a mighty warrior! I worked with Danny on a grant application when he wanted to use some of Philip Hamilton's music for a piece several years ago. It was a grant so it was intense but enjoyable. I also remember seeing "Family?" as one of my first showcases at my first ever APAP conference. I loved it and thought what a smart and wonderful pair of dancemakers they were. A rubber chicken sequence comes to mind that made me laugh! Anyway, it is always difficult to lose someone so young, but also it seems that those we do lose young some times have given us a lifetime of memories. I think that is true of Danny and I hope that brings his family solace.
In 2005 Danny spent time here conducting workshops within the Purdue Dance program.... We were commissioning partners of "ANYTOWN: Stories of America," their last major dance work, which we presented this past March. Over the two years that this project was developing, Danny and I had a budding friendship rooted in our shared interest in this project, cancer stories (his and my father's), and our abiding love for and guilty pleasure in what is generally acknowledged to be the lowest and most inane form of humor -- puns.
Danny was truly a beacon of inspiration to me and many others in his sheer will to create art that touches us all in the most human of ways -- through our heart, our soul, and our shared experiences. He overcame many obstacles to create "ANYTOWN" and I am thrilled that here at Purdue we had the opportunity to get to know Danny through his work and his generosity of spirit. As a society, I think we spend a lot of time talking and reading about heroic figures, and that we have a pretty narrow, stereotypical notion of what heroism may be; for me and maybe for a number of you, however, through Danny we have a pretty clear idea that "hero" is not a noun, it's a verb.
Danny and I crossed paths at The Space, the big three-studio enterprise of the Nikolais/Louis school in the late '70s. You could count on Danny for a warmly generous greeting. His performing and choreography, along with Joanie Smith, was human. I remember most sharing a Nik/Murray alumni concert and seeing their work with the rows of benches. The physicality was rich, stretchy and mercurial. Solid and earthy. You can't really believe that dancers get sick and die. What we do is so ephermeral anyway. It's just not fair that one of us dies before getting too old to dance.
Heartfelt love Joannie and all of us.
Special thanks to Laura Colby for her help in gathering these reflections.