BEST CHOREOGRAPHER Minneapolis 2002 - Danial Shapiro and Joanie Smith
According to the cliché, two heads are better than one. But in the case of Danial Shapiro and Joanie Smith, it's the noggins and the bodies beneath them that make for a complementary pairing. Shapiro works a damn-the-torpedoes moxie while Smith is all elegant understatement. As leaders of their eponymous 17-year-old company, the New York transplants have established themselves locally as dance-theater innovators who embrace both pure lyrical moments and borscht-belt comedy. With this season's "A Late Frost," the duo paid homage to the Minnesota winters they have come to know all too well, directing their dancers to glide with exceptional serenity through an imagined icy landscape. But Shapiro & Smith have a silly and sardonic side, too, which they've let loose in past works such as the Catskills-inspired "Shtick." There's also a reverent and serious social aspect to their dancemaking, as exemplified by the stark Holocaust drama "What Dark/Falling Into Light." No matter the mood, these artists keep their dancers moving with a sort of looks-easy-but-isn't abandon. The results: a style that demonstrates a commitment to clear physical articulation and a certainty of purpose.