A unique fusion of theater and dance, "Lullaby," will premiere next week in the culmination of a year-long exploration of far-ranging emotions, personal narratives and collaborative creation.

The production is senior Lily Bo Shapiro's honors project for her self-designed major, "aesthetics in performance."

"The basis for the major, in large part, was that I was interested in something that wasn't exactly theater and wasn't exactly dance, that somehow combined and merged the two disciplines," said Shapiro. "I was going to try to figure out a way to realize and articulate this particular aesthetic in performance."

Dance-theater is a performance genre that began in Germany during the early 20th century, the heyday of performer and choreographer Pina Bausch. While Shapiro drew inspiration from Bausch, she said she would place "Lullaby" in its own genre that borrows from her personal experiences with theater and dance.

Instead of laying out the basic structure of her piece ahead of time, Shapiro and her cast explored different material together in order to carve out its form.

"I knew I wanted to work in a very collaborative and collage-based process," said Shapiro. "We started the process doing physical and vocal training so that everyone would build a similar physical and vocal vocabulary. Then we started to do little scenarios and improvisations. As we did improvisation, each of my performers developed material."

One of the performers in Shapiro's six-person cast, Robbie Harrison '14, stressed the role of improvisation, growth, and trust involved in the yearlong process.

"It was a new type of thing, a lot of the innovation developed as she was directing it," he said. "She definitely knew what she was starting with, and she reacted to us as a cast."

"Many of the scenarios or characters come directly from the stories that we told in rehearsal," Shapiro said.

"There is a centrality to a lot of the moments in the piece where you can point to someone's input," Harrison added. "And I think that's something really special because as a cast I think we've gotten to know each other well. A lot of the moments are fused together, you go from one moment of fear to another moment of fear and it's less cut and dry. Here are those collaborative roots."

The theme of the production stems from Shapiro's broader interest in childhood, stories, memory, and dream structures.

"I was very interested in the way that children and adults perceive one another," she said. "I felt like there was a tendency to look at childhood from adulthood as innocent or nostalgic or calm or a better time and there was a tendency from childhood to look at adulthood as romantic and exciting. The piece wound up focusing a lot on presentation, perception, image, and narrative as part of that."

"Lullaby" will be presented at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25 and Thursday, April 26 in Pickard Theater. Admission is free and tickets are not required.