Halloween Special: Smuin Style Costumes

        Halloween is right around the corner, and it’s time to get creative! How are you celebrating the spookiest day of the year? Smuin has a long history of crazy costumes over the last 25 years of performances. Check out the photos of some of our recent standouts–complete with fun facts from Company Manager JoEllen Arntz–in the captions below!

Trey McIntyre’s Be Here Now

        Trey McIntyre’s Be Here Now commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love in San Francisco and was a veritable feast for the senses. These weren’t your typical flower-child costumes— each dancer’s costume was full of detail, texture, and splashes of color that served to enhance the choreography. While each creation was unique, Sandra Woodall incorporated thematic elements throughout her designs. Bare midriffs, sheer fabrics, cutouts, and fringe were seen on almost each dancers’ costume. Some of the most notable pieces included feathered chaps and a leather fringe skirt!

Michael Smuin’s Frankie & Johnny

         Michael Smuin’s steamy mambo ballet Frankie & Johnny premiered in 1996 and has been performed several times throughout the Company’s history. Frankie’s costume has been reconstructed several times since the ballet’s premiere, while Johnny’s original jacket and tie are still in use today. Due to the many knee-slides in the choreography, Johnny’s pants had to be remade as the knees wore away too quickly. Fun fact: the men in the ensemble cast all wear mambo boots specially ordered for the Company from Mexico.

Garett Ammon’s Madness, Rack, and Honey

        These original costumes for Denver-based choreographer Garett Ammon’s creation for Smuin, Madness, Rack, and Honey, were created by designer Cassandra Carpenter. The designs mimic the structure and sumptuous feel of haute couture, but with the functionality of traditional leotards and tights. Initially, the costumes drew inspiration from the fashion houses of Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, and Dries van Noten. You can read even more about the designs behind this quirky work on Backstage at Smuin here!

Michael Smuin’s Tango Palace

        This sassy, tango-inspired work was most recently performed in 2012. When first creating the piece, Michael Smuin invited Argentine tango dancers to the Company’s rehearsals to help them perfect their steps. The Smuin dancers all took lessons for a week with Paulo Araujo before beginning the ballet. Designer Ann Beck, who created the costumes, also designed costumes for Smuin’s memorable Come Dance Me a Song and Stabat Mater.

Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Requiem for a Rose

        Perhaps one of the most minimalist costumes to grace the Smuin stage, the Rose costume in Requiem for a Rose consisted of just two pieces: a rose, and a beautifully crafted nude leotard. Fun fact: the rose prop shown in dancer Erica Felsch’s mouth had to be cut in a way that allowed her to bite on the stem comfortably while still keeping it secure. Who says you need a complex costume to make a statement?

Michael Smuin’s Hearts Suite

        This Michael Smuin original was initially choreographed in 1986, and was one of Smuin’s current Ballet Master Amy London’s favorites to perform. Hearts Suite was inspired by the film Les Enfants du Paradis, and featured the story of unrequited love between a Parisian courtesan, Garrance, and a besotted mime, Baptiste. Hearts costume designer Willa Kim had previously worked with Michael Smuin during the creation of his iconic ballet Song for Dead Warriors. While an excerpt of the ballet graced the Smuin stages in 2015, The Hartford Ballet was the last to perform Hearts in its entirety in 1994.

Michael Smuin’s The Christmas Ballet, Magnificat

        Originally performed in the first Christmas Ballet in 1995, this spectacular opening number is a staple of Smuin’s holiday program. The costumes for both Act I & II were originally designed by Sandra Woodall and constructed by Ann Beck. The costumes and sets for The Christmas Ballet were all remade in 2006, and, the eye-catching silk capes featured in Magnificat now include sparkling snowflakes! Dancer and choreographer Nicole Haskins also put them to good use in her new Act I finale for the Company: Joy to the World.

Michael Smuin’s The Christmas Ballet, The Drummer Boy

Another staple of The Christmas Ballet, the Drummer Boy costume is one of the most iconic of Act II: The Cool Christmas. Following its reconstruction in 2006, the vest, once white, is red embellished with contrasting silver studs and fringed epaulets. Its design helps to accommodate the many quick changes in the program, as the vest simply sits on top of the standard men’s Cool Christmas costume of a red silk shirt, tights, and hand-sewn boots. Don’t forget the matching red and silver drumsticks!

Michael Smuin’s Romeo & Juliet

        This romantic Smuin work was originally created as a full length ballet for San Francisco Ballet in 1976 while Michael Smuin served as artistic director. More recently, the Balcony Pas de deux was beautifully danced by Erin Yarbrough-Powell and Jonathan Powell during the Company’s 2014/15 season. Romeo’s cape is the only original piece of costumer William Pitkin’s designs that remains in use today, as both Romeo and Juliet’s ensembles are recreations of the original designs.

Michael Smuin’s Blue Angel

        Blue Angel, Michael Smuin’s story-ballet adaptation of Josef von Sternberg’s 1930 film, featured current Artistic Director Celia Fushille as cabaret performer Lola-Lola. Sandra Woodall drew inspiration from Marlene Dietrich’s portrayal of Lola-Lola, and completed the ensemble with a silver satin top hat from San Francisco milliner Ruth Dewson.

        Which Smuin Ballet costume is your favorite? Each year, our dancers spice up their rehearsal day with their own fun Halloween costumes. Join in on the fun and relive the magic of Halloween with us!

** Written by Eva Faizi, Smuin’s Communications Manager


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