BEST DANCE PERFORMANCE OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS - 2007
Anytown: Stories of America
"How beautiful the river flows and the birds they sing, but you and I, we're messier things," laments Bruce Springsteen in his song "Big Muddy." With November's Anytown: Stories of America, Shapiro & Smith Dance discovered a folk opera in Springsteen's songs, with their one-damned-thing-after-another understanding of blue-collar living. Anytown's community is a place that works hard and plays rough, and the 11 performers depicted it with hard-driving movement that flooded the stage like a major weather system. Joanie Smith's big tough-love mama slapped her kids and alienated her husband (Carl Flink), literally ripping off the military uniform he just as doggedly kept putting back on. Later, they huddled together wearily in a rocking chair, cutting their losses and making their peace. Likewise, Mathew Janczewski, Kelly Drummond Cawthon, and Germaul Barnes subtly particularized the rhythms of adultery. These dancers, and the rest of the company, animated a town whose restless inhabitants flowed together like ornery tributaries sucked into a mighty river.