Surprising Facts About Smuin Ballet That You Might Not Know!

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Photo: Michael Smuin’s “Carmina Burana”.
Dancer: Allison Jay with the men of the company.

After twenty successful seasons, we definitely have our share of intriguing moments and traditions that we have adopted. Read more to find out some tidbits you may be surprised to learn about Smuin Ballet!

Robin Fever

Robin (Cornwell) Semmelhack in “Fever” Photo: Marty Sohl

Smuin Ballet’s inaugural performances took place at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 7 & 8, 1994 to sold-out houses. These shows were also a benefit for SF Arts and Education Project and the program consisted of a full evening of Michael Smuin’s Dances with Songs.

 * We still perform popular numbers on a regular basis from this piece such as “Fever”, “Mambo”, and “Heartbreak Hotel”

 

Celia Fushilleand the men  in "Santa Baby" Photo: Tom Hauck

Celia Fushille and the men in “Santa Baby” Photo: Tom Hauck

– The Christmas Ballet was created in December 1995 as a holiday alternative to the Nutcracker and all of the 13 performances were sold-out. Originally every number was choreographed by Michael Smuin, since then various choreographers, including company dancers have choreographed for it.

– When Smuin Ballet originally began, the company was comprised of 10 dancers. This is part of the reason that there are various pieces in the Christmas Ballet with 5 couples.

– The pas de deux “Dobra Notsch” (in what’s known as the Jewish portion of The Christmas Ballet) was created on former Smuin Ballet dancers, Greg Amato and Jennifer Jaffe as a gift for their wedding.

Photo: Nicole Haskins

Photo: Nicole Haskins

– In a single performance of The Christmas Ballet, it is quite possible that some of the women will change their hair & shoes over 8 times; this includes going barefoot for Christmas Island!

– Did you know that one season for the Droopy Christmas Trees in the Christmas Ballet, a lumberjack came out with a chainsaw after the lights came back up on the tops of the trees? Needless to say it only happened one season!

 

At the SF Giants game

At the SF Giants game

 

 

– Smuin Ballet performed the National Anthem at 2 different San Francisco Giants games in 1997.

Click here to see the televised performance!

 

 

– How did the buffalo become our mascot?

“Michael had us gather in a circle before our first show at the Joyce Theater.  Michael explained that where he grew up, among the Native Americans in Montana, the buffalo was considered good luck because it had provided for so many of their needs.  He asked us to hold hands onstage and after counting to three, to jump up and down three times, each time saying ‘Buffalo!’  We have done this prior to every performance of Smuin Ballet since that date as our pre-show good luck tradition.  At that point, the Buffalo became our mascot!”

* Celia Fushille Artistic & Executive Director of Smuin Ballet

Michael Smuin

Michael Smuin

– Our founding Artistic Director, Michael Smuin won several Emmy Awards and a Tony Award for Anything Goes. He also created over 40 ballets for Smuin Ballet, which are all still in our repertoire!

– Michael Smuin choreographed three major Hollywood films that Smuin Ballet dancers were featured in, Return of the Jedi: Special Edition, A Walk in the Clouds, and The Fantasticks.

 

 

On set for Return of the Jedi: Special Edition

Smuin dancers on set for Return of the Jedi: Special Edition, dancers were added into and highlighted in a section where they were entertaining Jabba the Hutt in his Palace. Artistic & Executive Director Celia Fushille and former Smuin Ballet dancer Dalyn Chew were two of the “singers” and the lead singer in that scene was based on Mick Jagger.

Return of the Jedi, Special Edition, dancers were added into and highlighted in a section where they were entertaining Jabba the Hutt in his Palace. Artistic & Executive Director Celia Fushille and former Smuin Ballet dancer Dalyn Chew were two of the “singers” and the lead singer in that scene was based on Mick Jagger.

  • In A Walk in the Clouds, the dancers were featured in the grape stomping wine-making scene with Keanu Reeves
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    – We have performed in following Bay Area cities regularly since:

    • San Francisco: 1994
    • Mountain View: 1998
    • Walnut Creek: 2002
    • Carmel: 2005

     

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    The dancers on a day off in Montana – Michael Smuin’s home state!

    Smuin Ballet has toured to the following places:

    Montana (8 times)
    NYC (5)
    Southern California – LA (5), Temecula (1), Santa Barbara (2), San Luis  Obispo (1), Escondido (2), Santa Cruz (1)
    Colorado (2) – Beaver Creek Fort Collins, & Pueblo
    Alaska (2)
    Italy (2)
    Reno (1)
    North & South Dakota (1) – Fargo, Rapid City & Sioux Falls
    Missouri (1)
    Australia (1)
    Florida (1) – the company performed in Miami the middle of Hurricane Lili in 1996.

     

    JoyceTh.– In 2004, while Smuin Ballet was performing in NYC at the Joyce Theater, the famous Eastern seaboard power outage occurred, forcing the company to cancel two performances.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Dancers: Sarah Barber Wilson & David Strobe

    Dancers: Sarah Barber Wilson & David Strobe

    In one season Smuin Ballet will go through:
    – Over 200 pairs of pointe shoes, which are on average $90/pair.
    – 100 pounds of snow during a run of The Christmas Ballet.
    – 150 rolls of physical therapy Kinesio Tape will be used per season to assist the dancers in dealing with ailments.

     

     

     

     

    Jiří Kylián's "Petite Mort". Dancers Brooke (Reynolds) Nicholson Photo: Scot Goodman

    Jiří Kylián’s “Petite Mort”. Dancers Brooke (Reynolds) Nicholson Photo: Scot Goodman

    – Michael Smuin originally brought Jiří Kylián’s work to the Bay Area over 20 years ago when he was co-director at the San Francisco Ballet.

    – Smuin Ballet performed Petite Mort in 2010 and now in our 20th XX Anniversary Season we are still performing Kylián’s work as we present Return to a Strange Land.

     

     

    ** Written by Darren Anderson Smuin Ballet’s Community Relations Manager

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    2017-05-22T20:22:28+00:00

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