After a successful career of lighting up the stage with his incredible versatility, most notably his fierce tapping and electric stage presence for the past 16 seasons with Smuin Ballet, Shannon Hurlburt has decided to transition out of performing as a full-time dancer and focus his energies on fatherhood and becoming a personal trainer, which has been a growing interest throughout his career.
Upon completing his first year as a company member with the Hartford Ballet, Shannon packed up and moved to the Bay Area to sign on with the then, four-year-old Smuin Ballet. Little was he aware that this would be a life changing experience, which would eventually lead to meeting the love of his life, his wife, Kaleena (also a former ballet dancer) and recently welcoming their son Oliver!
Choosing to step-down from dancing professionally is never an easy decision and certainly so after a career as triumphant and lengthy as Shannon’s. After sustaining two major injuries that sidelined him in the past four years, both of which he recovered from and was able to return to stage, he feels confident that the time has come to pass on the steps and traditions of Smuin Ballet to the next generation of artists. The past few seasons Shannon has been a great help with assisting in rehearsals and setting some of Michael Smuin’s works that were created on him.
At our last XXCENTRIC Dance Series performance in San Francisco at the Yerba Buena Theater, the company paid a special tribute to Shannon. Artistic Director Celia Fushille, who has witnessed Shannon grow as an artist and person over the years, delivered a touching and heartfelt speech honoring his career. At which point Shannon’s wife and son joined him on stage to share in the celebration of his well-deserved recognition with multiple bouquets of flowers that were presented and a video montage on his career.
It was truly a special and memorable moment that left some patrons misty eyed as they exited the theater. For those who may not have had the opportunity to see Shannon take the stage this season, there is talk of having him return as a guest performer in some of his energetic and signature tap roles.
All of us at Smuin Ballet would like to thank Shannon Hurlburt for his hard work, dedication, and remarkable performances that played a pinnacle part in maintaining the quality and excitement that Smuin Ballet has become known and celebrated for over the years.
When we asked Shannon to leave us with a few words, he gave us these:
“I joined the Smuin family in the summer of 1998 as an eager and feisty 23 year old. I’ve had such a wonderful opportunity to work with a plethora of artists who have helped me grow professionally and personally. Most importantly, I was able to work with Michael himself. Michael’s influence on me has been, by far, the most magical and enlightening of anything else in my career. I’m not leaving the Smuin family… once a family, always a family. I look forward to watching Smuin Ballet’s journey into the future.”
“Shannon is an incredibly versatile dancer, a real actor, but also so musical. And so fast. He gets it right away, then it seems that he can’t dance enough to make it better and better. There is a real intelligence in Shannon’s dancing.”
– Michael Smuin (San Francisco Chronicle)
** Written by Darren Anderson (Smuin Ballet’s Communications Manager)