Smuin’s 2015/16 season ended this weekend after our final performances of Dance Series Two at the Sunset Center in Carmel. Full of exciting dance works, classic Smuin favorites and highly anticipated world premieres, this season is one to remember! Here are some highlights from the year.
“Smuin Ballet is back in action!”
Smuin’s Dance Series One featured the world premiere of Choreographer In Residence Amy Seiwert’s Broken Open, the return of Michael Smuin’s Bouquet and Ma Cong’s French Twist, and the world premiere of Company member Ben Needham-Wood’s Maslow.
Reviewer Allan Ulrich of the San Francisco Chronicle was entranced by Amy Seiwert’s Broken Open, describing it as “fresh, challenging and relevant;” overall “a superb work” full of “kinetic punctuation.” Ann Murphy of the Mercury News commented on Seiwert’s “keen craftsmanship,” describing the score as “a silky mix of driving strings and bass heartbeats, provided by composer and cellist Julia Kent.”
As Ulrich noted: “Smuin Ballet is back in action!”
“There’s no better way to express the joy of the season!”
As Smuin’s annual yuletide treat, The Christmas Ballet is full of dance offerings both classical and cool. The 2015 edition offered two world premieres: “Home for the Holidays,” a delightful romp by Choreographer in Residence Amy Seiwert, and “Joy to the World,” an energetic ensemble piece by Company member Nicole Haskins. Allan Ulrich called “Joy to the World” a “company outing” full of “exuberant classical symmetries” and described “Home for the Holidays,” as an “amiable setting” of Perry Como’s classic featuring “a dollop of sentiment” for Christmas. Overall: “there’s no better way to express the joy of the season.”
Mary Ellen Hunt of SF Gate praised the production, calling it a “toe-tapping holiday cavalcade of ballet bonbons that ranges from serenely classical to sassy jazz.” Hunt described the longtime holiday tradition as one not to be missed: it would be a “blue Christmas without Michael Smuin’s The Christmas Ballet!
“Distinctive, exhilarating and infectious”
Smuin Ballet’s 2016 Choreography Showcase featured 11 works of original choreography from eight Smuin dancers, offering fresh, lively performances in an intimate setting. The music ranged from Debussy to Missy Elliott to Bon Iver, and several pieces featured original costumes by Company member Susan Roemer.
Audiences were delighted and impressed with the performances. First-time Showcase attendees Dan and Allyn said: “We had no idea that so many of the dancers are extremely talented choreographers. The diversity of the program was memorable from the classical ballet to Abbott and Costello’s Who’s on First? To sum up the evening: distinctive, beautiful, humorous, exhilarating, and infectious.”
Smuin on Tour: Sarasota, Florida
This February, Smuin Ballet traveled to Sarasota, Florida to perform our Dance Series One program. Presented by Sarasota Ballet at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, Smuin’s five performances were a sold-out success. Artistic Director Celia Fushille noted, “When touring, we are reminded [that] we are part of the larger dance world across the country. We love to share with other communities what our dancers are exposed to choreographically on the West Coast.”
Smuin Ballet enjoys a long history of touring work, from the Joyce Theater in New York, many venues in southern California, and even tours through the midwest, including frequent trips to and around Missoula, Montana: the hometown of Company founder Michael Smuin. Most recently, the Company has traveled to Fort Collins and Pueblo, Colorado, as well as two whirlwind Italy tours: 10 shows in 9 cities in 12 days!
“Stirring and gorgeously dispatched”
Smuin Ballet’s Dance Series Two featured the world premiere of Helen Pickett’s Oasis, and revisited Jiří Kylián’s classic Return to a Strange Land and Val Caniparoli’s exuberant Tutto Eccetto il Lavandino. Dance Series Two also offered the company’s first performances at the San Mateo Performing Arts Center and the Bankhead Theater in Livermore.
Ulrich called Pickett’s Oasis “a stirring and gorgeously dispatched” work that “sets the pulse racing” with Emmy award-winning composer Jeff Beal’s “soaring score” and “the bubbly projections that emanate from Emma Kingsbury’s blue strip curtain.” Murphy described Oasis as a “big-concept” ballet featuring “an evocative lighting design” by Rayment, costumes “elegantly decorated in geometric patterns” by Kingsbury, and a “big, lush score” from Beal.
Ulrich noted Arlette van Boven’s restaging of Jiří Kylián’s “elegiac modern classic” Return to a Strange Land (1975), calling it an “impeccable and haunting revival,” and “the evening’s high point.” Murphy commended the “witty, ingeniously crafted” Tutto Eccetto Il Lavandino, stating: “the dancers move in seamless counterpoint,” celebrating “invention, relationships and sophisticated wit with wry gestures, beautiful formations and a warm humanity.”