Meet Smuin’s New Dancers!

        Smuin welcomes five new dancers to the stage for the 2016/17 season: Ben Warner, Michael Wells, Tessa Barbour, Valerie Harmon, and Lauren Pschirrer. Joining us from all across the country, the newest members of Smuin bring their own unique flair to our works both classical and contemporary. Like so many of Smuin’s dancers, each boasts a diverse repertoire and intense passion for performance.

        Read on for a peek behind-the-scenes at the intriguing lives of Smuin artistsfrom wardrobe malfunctions to pre-show rituals to most-loved roles!

Ben Warner 

What made you interested in dancing for Smuin?

I am most interested in the diverse repertoire and the welcoming communal rehearsal environment. I was also thrilled by the possibility of living surrounded by artists and art lovers in beautiful San Francisco!

What are you looking forward to the most this season?

I am looking forward to being in a creative and artistically engaged environment. I am excited to learn from more experienced dancers and work with the incredible and innovative choreographers that Smuin brings.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

A large coffee and a hot shower!

What would you be if you weren’t a professional dancer?

I graduated with a degree in Religious Studies. I don’t know where that would lead to in a professional work space, but religious communities have always interested me.

Michael Wells

What are some of your favorite roles that you have performed so far?

“Hansel” in Nicolo Fonte’s There and Back Again (a dark interpretation of Hansel and Gretel) was a big turning point in my career. I was also privileged enough to perform Merce’s role in Merce Cunningham’s Cross Currents. One of my favorite roles has been in Cinderella, where I danced the role of one of the stepsisters.

What was your first ever professional role?

The window washer in Jordan Morris’ Moulin Rouge; I spent the whole first act in the background pretending to clean the set.

What would you say was your biggest onstage “blooper”?

One time while wearing a suit on stage, I ripped a huge hole in the back and couldn’t exit the stage for another 20 minutes!

What’s the strangest thing a choreographer has ever asked you to do?

One of my last shows in New York was an opera where we personified a river via projections. We wriggled on the floor for two hours in a white spandex body suit and white face paint.

Tessa Barbour

What made you interested in dancing for Smuin?

I was first introduced to the style of the company through a teacher and mentor. As I watched those dancers create, express, and move together, I set that as the standard of what I wanted to do one day. As I grew as a dancer and artist, I set my mind to hopefully dance for Smuin.

What are some of your favorite roles that you have performed so far?

One of my favorite roles I’ve performed was, believe it or not, “Spanish Chocolate” in The Nutcracker. I had a very talented flamenco teacher growing up who taught me to play and dance with the castanets. When I got the part, I was able to incorporate my very loud castanets in the variation, making it such a fun and new experience for the audience!

What would you say was your biggest onstage “blooper?”

Once, I got a bloody nose during a pas de deux—while wearing a white costume! I exited as soon as I could to clean up, and made my next entrance 20 seconds later!

What’s something that people would be surprised to find out about you?

I couldn’t dance en pointe until I was 17. At 11, I had broken a little piece of bone behind my achilles tendons in both of my feet. I chose to have surgery and prayed for a full recovery. When it came time to try on my first pair of pointe shoes, it was a surreal moment. I was in no pain for the first time in years and I auditioned for my first company the next month.

Valerie Harmon

When did you first realize you wanted to be a professional dancer?

Pointe work hooked me! Even though it was more difficult than I realized, it was everything it was cracked up to be. There is something about standing on your toes that can make you feel superhuman.

What are you most looking forward to this season?

Aside from all of the performing opportunities, I’m looking forward to the challenges and inspiration that comes from being a part of new works.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

Adrenaline makes me yawn like crazy, so if you catch me in the wings about two minutes before the curtain rises, it will look more like I’m about to take a nap than dance!

What would you be if you weren’t a professional dancer?

A physical therapist.

What’s something that people would be surprised to find out about you?

My husband and I have an awesome rubber ducky collection. Apparently I like a lot of birdsI also have a love for flamingos! They appear on many of my accessories.

Lauren Pschirrer

What was your first ever professional role?

Dancing in Sir Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella with the Joffrey Ballet.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a professional dancer?

From the moment I started dancing at age 7.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

No, not really. But I have a picture of my grandparents clapping at one of my performances that I put up on the dressing room mirror. My grandmother passed away a few years ago, and she was my biggest fan.

What’s something that people would be surprised to find out about you?

I have a twin sisterwe look nothing alike. She’s a neuro IC nurse and wicked smart! I think she’s the cooler twin!

Interested in getting a closer look at Smuin? Attend special meet and greet events and pre-show talks held throughout the season! Get to know our all our  dancers, both on and off stage, by purchasing tickets to Smuin’s 2016/2017 season.

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

2017-07-31T13:35:53+00:00
Sign up to receive offers, performance dates, and behind-the-scenes information from Smuin.

Sign up to receive offers, performance dates, and behind-the-scenes information from Smuin.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest