Danial Shapiro, a Celebration of a Life

Danial Shapiro And indeed it was at the Joyce on Saturday, May 5, 2007. Friends, family, and interpreneurs spoke of this man, of his booming vitality and burgeoning creativity, of his generous person, of his larger-than-life vigor, visions, and tireless pursuit of his art, and indeed his eclectic appetite.

Memorably, among others, Betsey Fisher, fellow student and Murray Louis Company member with Danny, read a letter from Murray Louis telling of Danny as student and Company dancer. Joseph Linsk, Danny’s uncle, spoke so personally and tenderly of Danny’s last days, of his continuing visions for his art, his continuing participation in the stuff of living, like going fishing. Maggie Morris, who came from London to honor Danny, spoke of his artistry. And I think it was Laura Colby, who is the Shapiro/Smith company manager in Minneapolis, talked of his tireless brilliance in planning not only the Dance but also property construction, transportation, and every detail of production. And finally, because of a technical delay, Joannie Smith herself told of his last day, his “damn” when the test was bad, his peaceful last breath, “He did not suffer.”

The Shapiro-Smith company members Magie Bergeron, Bernard Brown, Kelly Drummond-Cawthon, Mathew Janczewski, Wilson Mendieta, and Laura Sele-Virtucio danced brilliantly. To Have and to Hold (1989), which we have come to call “the bench dance” and which is subtitled for those we have loved and lost but not forgotten, is a work that could have been made nowhere else but The Yard. One can smell the sea as one watches the waters roll and rise over the strand.

And the tenderness of the contact is not unlike the caress of waters. It is an altogether fitting tribute to Danny. And Ferdouganal (2003), a solo of unspeakable anguish, danced by Kelly Drummond-Cawthon, certainly spoke of our outrage at the loss of Danny. And Kelly is “some dancer”!!

As Joannie told us, the buffet that followed was all of Danny’s favorite stuff—suchi, subs, artichoke hearts, beer and wine—and gave us all a time to touch our common roots once more.

—Ruth E. Grauert, May 6, 2007