At Smuin, we’re already in the mood for the holidays. Our dancers are hard at work rehearsing their favorite pieces from The Christmas Ballet and putting their own spin on new works! Every year of our holiday program marks a new experience for our dancers, crew, and staff. Even if you’ve already enjoyed The Christmas Ballet once, you can always come back to see your favorite pieces grace the stage again. Many of our audience members join us year after year to celebrate their holidays with The Christmas Ballet, welcoming our new surprises and returning for their favorite pieces.
While ballet is revered and reputed for preserving the classics, not all performances of The Christmas Ballet are the same. Since the inaugural performance of Smuin’s yuletide classic in 1995, no two programs presented have been exactly alike. Act I, the “Classic Christmas,” boasts 37 different pieces of repertory to choose from, while Act II, the “Cool Christmas” has over 50, with new pieces added each year! With such an extensive, constantly rotating repertoire, it’s no easy task selecting which works will comprise each year’s unique program. Curious to see if your favorites are on the program this season? Below you’ll find some of our “Christmas classics”— our time-honored, signature works you can expect to see again this year!
Smuin’s iconic opening number, set to Bach’s dramatic “Magnificat,” starts the program with a splash of color and a lot of bravura!. Preceded by a visual overture of angels, the curtain rises to showcase the whole company, with the ladies bedecked in silk, snowflake-studded capes. This particular piece decidedly sets the tone of Act I, the “Classic Christmas.”
Veni, Veni Emmanuel
This simple, reverent piece from Act I features the women of the company, moving in unison to muted choral music.The quiet intention of the dancers captivates the audience, and invokes an almost palpable sense of calm and ease.
Licht Bensh’n (“Candle Blessing”)
Licht Bensh’n is also lovingly referred to as the Jewish tribute of the ballet! While much of Act I offers classical movement, Licht Bensh’n incorporates a bit of humor and storytelling in its choreography. The piece begins with a soulful solo for a female dancer, who is later surprised by yarmulke-clad men leaping enthusiastically from the wings. Her amusement is fleeting, however, as they each disappear after a quick dance.
Christmas in New Orleans
Opening Act II is Smuin’s Christmas in New Orleans, set to the music of Louis Armstrong. The saturated red hues that flood the stage present a large contrast to the bright white of Act I’s “Classic Christmas.” In this light-hearted piece, dancers dressed head-to-toe in red casually stroll about the stage in wide-brimmed straw hats. One can almost feel the heat from The Big Easy!
A true holiday favorite, Smuin’s jazzy Santa Baby was originally choreographed on artistic director Celia Fushille. The entrance of the female soloist in Santa Baby, flanked by her massive boa that spans the entirety of the stage, is often accompanied by surprised laughs and murmurs from our audience. Whether it’s your first or 20th time viewing Santa Baby, This iconic Smuin work has even sparked a new tradition over the years— bring your own boa to the theater and share in the fun!
Baby, It’s Cold Outside
Another work originally choreographed on Fushille, Baby It’s Cold Outside is a playful pas de deux that echoes the work’s namesake. The flirtatious push-pull of the onstage couple depicts a different side of the holidays, where having a drink beside the fireplace and listening to records is all that’s on the agenda.
Christmas Island showcases the more playful side of Smuin. Three dancers hula onstage in festive, Christmas Island-style grass skirts made of red tinsel, with illuminated palm trees and a beachside horizon in the background. The curtain rises to reveal everyone’s favorite, Speedo-clad surfer who’s ready at a moment’s notice to save the inhabitants of Christmas Island from a rather intrusive, but festive shark. In earlier performances of Christmas Island, Frosty the snowman often made guest appearances, sunbathing on the beach in his oversized sunglasses.
This year, we celebrate the 21st anniversary of Smuin’s The Christmas Ballet. We hope you join us again for your favorite pieces, and stay tuned for our new premieres! It’s sure to be an enchanting way to spend the holidays. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…