“What is this a moment before? A moment before…what?” I sat in the corner of studio 200 in the Barbara Barker Center for Dance as Kelly Drummond Cawthon spoke to the University Dance Theater cast of the Shapiro & Smith Dance piece “A moment before.” Winter break. ACDFA. Graduation. The rest of my life. This apprenticeship is my moment before – a moment before my career reveals itself.
This project marks the end of my college career. I am a graduating senior from the University of Minnesota and I am earning a BFA in dance and a minor in mass communications. My senior project is apprenticing with Shapiro & Smith Dance (S&S).
I arrived on the university’s campus a little over three years ago. I was fresh out of high school and I wanted to take every performance opportunity the school could offer. I auditioned and was cast in Joe Chvala’s “Berserks” which was one of the six dances involved in that year’s University Dance Theater’s (UDT) production. Shapiro & Smith Dance’s “To Have And To Hold” was also part of that lineup. Since then, I have been infatuated with the work Shapiro & Smith produce.
The idea for my project sprouted in the spring of last year. My friend and fellow dancer, Tawny Hyster, essentially apprenticed with S&S that year and got to know the company very well. I also wanted to get to know them but beyond that, I wanted to someday become part of the company. The physicality and the choreography of S&S’s dances are beautiful, striking and most importantly fun.
I talked with Joanie Smith, the artistic director of S&S, and asked if I could apprentice with the company for my senior project. She of course said yes with a brilliant smile across her face. We decided – even before the fall semester started – that I would come to rehearsals, learn the repertoire, step in if one of the company members is absent, and help backstage during their April show at the Southern Theater.
Everything was falling into place…and then, when I thought it couldn’t get any better, the dance program announced that Shapiro & Smith Dance was going to provide a dance, “A Moment Before,” for the 2008-2009 UDT show.
It has been three years since Shapiro & Smith had a dance in the UDT show. I had hoped to be cast in this piece but unfortunately that is not what happened. This blew my ego a little because I thought I had a very strong chance of getting into the piece.
Even though I was not cast, Joanie asked if I would “please join the cast during the first week of UDT rehearsals.” Company member Kelly Cathorn was coming up from Florida for a week to set “A Moment Before” on the cast; Joanie thought I would benefit from hearing what Kelly had to offer.