Smuin Celebrates Its 24th Season: An Annual Gala

       Smuin Contemporary American Ballet took a page out of the Academy Awards’ book this past Sunday, bringing a bit of glitz and glamour to San Francisco’s Design Center Galleria with its annual gala. Each year, the gala is made possible with the partnership of gala co-chairs Patti and Jerry Hume and Athena and John Konstin, with support from the Friends of Smuin Host Committee. The gala itself is truly a collective effort—Company dancers, artistic leadership, and administrative staff were all present among Smuin’s esteemed guests. Former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown and San Francisco Board of Supervisors president London Breed were notably in attendance.

      Guests posed for photos by Drew Altizer Photography in front of Smuin banners before being escorted to the second level cocktail hour, which included wine generously provided by Grgich Hills Estate, along with “The Michael,” the event’s signature cocktail, beer, and prepared hors d’oeuvres. As is Smuin tradition, a one-night-only performance followed the festive cocktail hour. The evening’s program featured excerpts from a few of Michael Smuin’s beloved ballets, as well as a pas de deux from Choreographer in Residence Amy Seiwert’s Falling Up, to be performed in its entirety during Smuin’s upcoming Dance Series 02. New this year were four works from men of the Company: Oliver-Paul Adams, Rex Wheeler, Ben Needham-Wood, and Robert Kretz, all of which initially debuted during the 2018 Choreography Showcase.  


         One of the evening’s most memorable moments came when both London Breed and current Smuin board president Dell Larcen presented former Smuin board president Bruce Braden with a commendation from the City of San Francisco for his many years of service to the arts.



        Following a plated dinner of mushroom duxelle filet of beef and ratatouille courtesy of McCalls Catering and Events, auctioneer Devon Bell addressed the crowd with flair alongside dancers and newlyweds Oliver-Paul Adams and Erica Chipp-Adams. Their presence assuredly lent itself to the success of this year’s auction fundraiser, which featured a VIP weekend with Smuin in Carmel, a trio of tasting menus at some of San Francisco’s finest restaurants, a suite at a Warriors game, and much more.

       Among the highlights this year was the arrival of dancers Benjamin Warner, Terez Dean, and Ben Needham-Wood, all of whom all of whom took to the stage to contribute carefully crafted, homemade treats to be auctioned off to guests. Terez Dean presented a dark chocolate cake with milk chocolate buttercream frosting; Benjamin Warner arrived with banana cupcakes with cream cheese frosting; and Ben Needham-Wood offered up a California lemon pie, made from lemons from the dancer’s own yard. Between baking and dancing, Smuin dancers are, indeed, a multi-talented bunch!


         In all, this year’s gala was a tremendous success, raising an astonishing $425,000 to benefit the Company! Funds from the gala will not only support new choreographic commissions, but also new sets, costumes, and dancer physical therapy.

       If you were unable to make it to this sold-out event, you can still take a piece of the Smuin gala experience home by recreating the signature cocktail of the evening! This season’s gala beverage was christened “The Michael,” and was just as likeable as the Company founder!  

To make Smuin’s signature gala cocktail, you’ll need:

  • 2 ounce premium vodka
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 1.5 oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur 
  • 3-4 fresh sage leaves

Combine vodka, simple syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a glass with ice and top with crushed sage leaves.  Voilà! The Michael! 

See more photos from this glamorous evening here!

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


Catch Smuin’s upcoming performances in the Bay Area with the premiere of our Dance Series 02 program in April! Learn more here.


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