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Flash Review 2, 4-28: Double-teamed
Dendy, Shapiro & Smith Face the Music and Dance

By Tom Patrick
Copyright 2000 Tom Patrick

Two premieres tonight, at Symphony Space, furthering that venue's endeavors to provide more New Yorkers with a representative sampling of the kaleidoscopic dance scene in our fair city. Shapiro & Smith Dance teamed up with Scott Killian, and Mark Dendy Dance & Theatre collaborated with Don Byron, to give an eager house a pair of very different works.

Opening the evening was "The Routine," choreographed by Danial Shapiro and Joanie Smith, and augmented by the writings and speaking of David Greenspan. The premise was the life of those old-circuit career comics (of the Henny Youngman variety), wittily evoked by Greenspan's text and firecracker delivery and danced to a variety of different musical backdrops. Shapiro, Smith, and Company of five danced spiritedly and poignantly in a world of pratfalls, one-night stands, probing spotlights and heartbreak. It was a collage of schtick, as I understand the word. There were also frenetic dance passages, sad reveries (I connected with the card game, as well as some of Ms Smith's wistful hand dancing) and a hyper ringmaster-of-sorts: Danial Shapiro. His over-the-top performance evokes a desperate edge of show business (there's no business like it, no business I know). More of a concept piece, I found the dance breaks mainly to depend on hip-swivels to taped Latin beats. I found it unpleasantly perplexing that during the longer and more fully developed sections the onstage band sat mute while recorded tracks played on and on. The majority of the "collaboration" here with Scott Killian and his band seemed to be some noodling in short sections. They seemed distractingly underused.

After intermission, clarinetist extraordinaire Don Byron turned around this ratio with authoritative opening solo on a bass, and then engaged his pianist (Edward Simon) in a hot duet before the dancers of Mark Dendy Dance & Theatre ever appeared. And a delightful appearance it was, a launch into the light that didn't let up. As Mr. Byron's music seethed from the corner of the stage, Dendy's octet "JAM" pitted the dancers in myriad ways kinetic, erotic, defiant, surprising. Bobby Pierce's costumes were endlessly interesting to watch as they revealed/concealed leg and interacted with each step. The dancers are all strong and sure and risking it out there, and Dendy is wringing some impassioned and daring things from them. Likewise himself -- bravo!

(Editor's note: Face the Music and Dance, curated by Bill Bragin and Kay Cummings, continues tonight and Saturday, at 8 p.m. For tickets, call 212-864-5400.)

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