Smuin Contemporary Ballet celebrated its 25th anniversary in style this month with its Silver Celebration gala, bringing its founder’s signature razzle-dazzle and a touch of glamour to San Francisco’s Design Center Galleria. Hosted by co-chairs Patti and Jerry Hume and Athena and John Konstin, with support from the Friends of Smuin Committee and Smuin’s Board of Directors, the gala was truly a collective effort. Company dancers, artistic leadership, and administrative staff were also present among Smuin’s esteemed guests. Both San Francisco Mayor London Breed and former Mayor Willie Brown were notably in attendance.
Upon arrival, guests entered the Kneedler Fauchère showroom for cocktail hour, which included passed hors d’oeuvres and wine generously provided by Grgich Hills Estate, along with “The Sage Germaine,” the event’s signature citrus cocktail. As they continued to the main floor of the Design Center Galleria, members of the Voice Church Inspire Choir sang from the mezzanine, welcoming the guests with an overture of soulful songs.
A one-night-only performance followed the lively cocktail hour featuring a romantic pas de deux from Michael Smuin’s Beatles ballet And I Love Her, alongside excerpts from Trey McIntyre’s Blue Until June, and former Company member Rex Wheeler’s Take Five. One of the evening’s most memorable moments came when both London Breed and current Smuin board president Dell Larcen presented Artistic Director Celia Fushille with a proclamation from the City of San Francisco declaring March 3 as “Smuin Day.” With the Company’s official 25th birthday on March 7, patrons and supporters will have two reasons to celebrate this month!
A sumptuous plated dinner was served to guests following the performance, courtesy of McCalls Catering and Events. Following the dinner, auctioneer Devon Bell addressed the crowd with flair alongside Smuin’s dancers, who had prepared impressive baked goods for the evening’s auction. The first to be presented was Tessa Barbour’s chocolate chip cookie dough layer cake, followed by Mattia Pallozzi’s impressive tiered chocolate cherry cake, which was covered in painted fondant and topped with a glittering “25.” In a nod to Smuin’s silver anniversary, dancer Benjamin Warner presented a rich chocolate bundt, frosted with liquid silver. In total, the three cakes raised over $8,000 in support of the Company.
The live auction continued with several luxurious offerings and experiences including an exclusive peek at Smuin’s new home, a private suite at a Warriors game, a villa in Punta Mita, Mexico, and walk-on roles in Smuin’s signature holiday program The Christmas Ballet. To conclude the evening, dancer Terez Dean Orr took to the stage with mic in hand to share her many memorable experiences with the Company with the audience. After dancing with Smuin for over 10 seasons, Dean Orr is one of the Company’s long-standing members, and acknowledged her artistic growth over the last decade. “We come to Smuin to push and grow, not only as individuals, but as artists. And because of the love and support of this organization and the community, we’re given the platform to achieve this at the highest level.”
This year’s gala was a truly memorable way to toast to Smuin Contemporary Ballet’s achievements over the past 25 years. With the generosity of our attendees, the evening raised a record-breaking $641,000 to benefit the Company! Funds from the gala will support new choreographic commissions, but also new sets, costumes, and physical therapy for our dancers. The Company would also like to thank all of our wonderful corporate sponsors, Tri County Bank, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Moss Adams, for helping us make the Silver Celebration gala such a success.
If you were unable to attend this magical evening, you can still relive the Silver Celebration experience at home by listening to Smuin’s Spotify playlist created with help from our dancers! Join us in dancing the night away, Smuin-style!
To see more photos from the evening shot by Drew Altizer Photography, click here.