Dancer Spotlight: Robby Kretz

The Christmas Ballet has only a few performances left in San Francisco! With the holidays and the new year just around the corner, we’re grateful for our many talented dancers, committed staff, dedicated patrons and donors. Recently, we sat down with new Smuin Ballet dancer Robby Kretz to talk about his experience with the Company.

Originally from Kittyhawk, NC, Robby began dancing seriously at age 9. He continued his dance studies with Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, a performing arts high school. Robby accepted a position with Boston Ballet II at 17, and at 19 joined the corps de ballet. During his eight years in the corps, Robby also danced for renowned contemporary choreographer Twyla Tharp.

Following his time in Boston, Robbie experienced a slump and a  period of creative drought. He still wanted to dance but sought a more intense and collaborative environment. This brought him to Smuin Ballet in April 2015 for the spring program Unlaced.

Robby commented, “Smuin Ballet has been a real artistic revival for me. I feel I am contributing more of myself, and creating real good work at this company.”

Robby says that he was initially attracted to Smuin Ballet because “it’s founded in theatricality with Michael

[Smuin]’s work, but it has moved in a more neoclassical and contemporary direction. Michael supported the creation of new work, and I feel his legacy lives on through the fostering of up and coming choreographers, as well as works from current masters.”

Robby first discovered contemporary dance with Jorma Elo, then the resident choreographer at Boston Ballet. He performed in several works by the modern master Jiří Kylián while at Boston Ballet, and also worked with Helen Pickett when she taught William Forsythe’s improvisation techniques. Referencing Helen Pickett’s spring world premiere with Smuin, Robby said, “I’m excited to work with Helen Pickett again because she brings out so much in you as a dancer. You learn so much about yourself in the process.”

Robby values Smuin Ballet’s unique position in the Bay Area community: “San Francisco is a blast of a town. There’s a lot of good art here, and a lot of people care about it. Smuin Ballet fits right into the San Francisco community, with its new contemporary works. We know how to put on a quality show that anyone can enjoy.”

Robby is loving his first year in Smuin Ballet’s The Christmas Ballet: “It’s so fun to have packed houses and enthusiastic crowds. There’s so much variety, it’s a wonderful time to dance it. I love the classical works [in Act One], because they pay homage to holiday traditions with choral music. In Act Two, the jazz and funk is a great opportunity for the whole company to perform and excel. The camaraderie between the dancers makes The Christmas Ballet unique and fun.”

He also commented on Smuin’s family spirit: “We’re all so in it together all the time. Even if you’re not on stage, you’re still on stage in spirit with the dancers and supporting them.” Despite only joining the company in April, Robby already feels like part of the Smuin Ballet community: “I love the feedback we get from performances. I hear people loving the show in the audience, clapping and cheering and standing ovations. All of the patrons and donors I’ve met have also made me feel like family. The joy that the company brings people is really astounding, and I don’t think just any company can give you that.”

See Robby Kretz perform in The Christmas Ballet as it continues at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco through December 27.

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