Daniel Shapiro and Joanie Smith present Anytown at the Joyce

The Joyce Theatre, New York City
January 23–29, 2006

A Review

It seems I cannot sit still during a dance concert and this one was a double whammy: driving music (Tyrell, Scialfa, and Springsteen) and driving motion (Shapiro and Smith). The baby boomer gentleman sitting next to me remarked that I kept wiggling my hand. I said I was sorry if I had disturbed him. He said, not at all, that he was just surprised that someone of my generation enjoyed that kind of music.

The overture (Soozie Tyrell) was marvelous. The house dimmed to half. The dancers paraded down the aisles. Here was the only lighting goof of the program (Pearl Rea): The house lights should have continued to dim as the dancers moved on to the stage, bringing us from “Anytown” into that place of magic.

I not surprised by the tables and chairs, sofas and a TV, a window and a wonderful bed on four roller wheels—a Shapiro signature. All of these, aside from their hinting at locale, were part and parcel of the motional design: they were rolled and lifted, tumbled and poked, and made to partner the dance. How did they transport all this stuff? (I asked: Joanie told me they drive a truck.) This ballet is really world class, but how would they ever get it overseas?

The company of dancers was chosen, not by their size, shape or age, because each could move—fast or slow, driving or lyrical, and we were spared the vision of beauty moving vapidly. From varying backgrounds, they truly are a cross-section of any town. They grace the bed as no bed was ever graced before. They use the sofa in familiar “do nothing.” The table is tipped and pounded as tables may be. A beautiful old rocker catches the eye.

The TV just sits as TVs do. The people of Anytown rumble and vegetate, scold and console, are happy, sad, angry, frustrated, tender and tough. I loved every minute of it. Then as we rose to go home, the woman (my generation this time), who had been sitting on the other side of me asked, “Why do they dance in bare feet?”

Ruth Grauert, January 29, 2006