Swipe by Val Caniparoli, music by Gabriel Prokofiev
Sextette company premiere by Katarzyna Skarpetowska, music by Johann Sebastian Bach
Dream by Michael Smuin, music by Chopin
World Premiere by Amy Seiwert
Smuin Ballet’s 22/23 season finale is a quadruple bill. We present Dream by Michael Smuin, a stirring pas de deux set to “Romanza” from Chopin’s “Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11.” Dream was originally commissioned as an anniversary gift by a devoted Smuin patron. Smuin’s DS2 program includes two new works created by women: a world premiere by Amy Seiwert and a company premiere by Kate Skarpetowska, who Dance Magazine named one of “25 to Watch.” Rounding out the bill is Swipe by Val Caniparoli, a highly technical and inventive piece for four men and three women set to a remix of “String Quartet No. 2” by Gabriel Prokofiev, grandson of Sergei Prokofiev who is a classically trained composer known for electronic and hip-hop music.
Dates and Locations
April 28-29, 2023: Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek
May 5-14, 2023: Blue Shield of California Theater at YBCA, San Francisco
May 25-28, 2023: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts
We invite you to become a season ticket subscriber or buy individual tickets for our performances.
If you are interested in subscribing to Smuin’s 2022/23 season, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the San Francisco Box Office at 415.912.1899 ext 1.
Photo of Brandon Alexander and Tessa Barbour by Chris Hardy
Choreographers of Dance Series 2
“In 1994, Michael Smuin set out to “infuse ballet with the rhythm, speed, and syncopation of American popular culture.”
In 1994, Michael Smuin set out to “infuse ballet with the rhythm, speed, and syncopation of American popular culture,” and Smuin Contemporary Ballet (née Smuin Ballets/SF, or more recently, Smuin Ballet) was born. Michael Smuin’s vision lives on following his sudden passing in 2007, and the Company continues to push the boundaries of contemporary ballet within a distinctly modern style, combining classical ballet training, technique, and artistry with uncommon physicality and expression.
Company Founder Michael Smuin was born on October 13, 1938, in Missoula, Montana. Smuin studied tap dancing as a child and became instantly enamoured with ballet when his mother took him to see the Ballet Russe on tour at the University of Montana. At the age of 15, Smuin moved to Salt Lake City to study dance on scholarship at the University of Utah. A few years later, San Francisco Ballet director Lew Christensen recruited Smuin for San Francisco Ballet, where he danced for six years. Smuin took a leave of absence from the company in 1962 to relocate to New York, where he performed in Bob Fosse’s Little Me on Broadway. During this time, Smuin created a nightclub act with his then-wife and fellow dancer Paula Tracy. Their “well-disguised ballet,” as Smuin would call it, toured widely and was billed alongside such entertainers as Louis Armstrong, Peggy Lee, and Frank Sinatra. The act later appeared on television on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Hollywood Palace, and Bell Telephone Hour, among others. Smuin joined American Ballet Theatre in 1965, where he choreographed Pulcinella Variations, The Catherine Wheel, Eternal Idol and several other pieces for the company before returning to San Francisco in 1973. During his years in New York he also worked with Leonard Bernstein, choreographing Candide.
Smuin spent 12 years as a choreographer and co-director of San Francisco Ballet, a period that coincided with his direction of Sophisticated Ladies on Broadway. Smuin served as Artistic Director of San Francisco Ballet until 1985, and was instrumental in raising the company’s profile in the international arts community. His ventures included serving as co-chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts dance panel (1979-1981), staging a performance at the White House, and presenting his Romeo and Juliet and his Emmy Award-winning feature A Song for Dead Warriors for PBS’s Dance in America program. In 1988, Smuin received both a Tony and a Drama Desk Award for his choreography for Anything Goes.
Outside of ballet and Broadway, Smuin choreographed several Francis Ford Coppola films, some of which include Rumble Fish, The Cotton Club and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. His choreography can also be seen in such films as A Walk in the Clouds, The Joy Luck Club, The Fantastiks, and Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (Special Edition).
Michael Smuin’s ballets are currently in the repertories of major dance companies around the country. Since founding Smuin Contemporary American Ballet in 1994, he created 40 new works for his company alone. His creations range from classical, as seen in his acclaimed September 11th tribute, Stabat Mater (2002), and Carmina Burana (1997), to the innovative Bluegrass/Slyde with its revolving-pole set, to one-act story ballets like Pinocchio (1999) and Zorro (2003). Many of Smuin’s ballet’s boast a touch of Broadway flair, such as the wildly popular Dancin’ With Gershwin (2001) and Fly Me to the Moon (2004).
Smuin passed away suddenly on April 23, 2007, surrounded by his dancers while teaching company class. His vision, style, and energy remain with the Company to this day.
Amy Seiwert worked with her mentor Michael Smuin for eight of her nine years as a dancer with Smuin Ballet and is also Smuin’s past Choreographer-in-Residence. San Francisco Guardian wrote, “She quite possibly is the Bay Area’s most original dance thinker.” Named one of “25 to Watch” by Dance Magazine, her first full evening of choreography was listed one of the “Top 10” dance events of 2007 by the San Francisco Chronicle. Other awards include a Bay Area Isadora Duncan Dance Award, or “IZZIE” for Outstanding Choreography and a “Goldie” from the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Seiwert’s choreographic works have been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Kenneth Rainin Foundation, ODC Theater, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and The Joyce Theater. Her work is in the repertory of Washington, Atlanta, Oakland, Sacramento, Colorado, Louisville, Cincinnati, Carolina, Oklahoma City, Dayton, Milwaukee, and American Repertory Ballets, as well as Smuin, BalletMet, AXIS Dance, Robert Moses’ KIN, and Ballet Austin. From July 2018-2020, Seiwert was Artistic Director of Sacramento Ballet.
Skarpetowska is a native of Warsaw, Poland. She is an alumna of the NYC High School of Performing Arts and received a BFA from The Juilliard School in 1999 under Artistic Director Benjamin Harkarvy. In 1992, at age 15, she was the youngest cast member of the Broadway show, Metro, directed and choreographed by Janusz Józefowicz. Kate was a member of Parsons Dance from 1999 until 2006 where she performed lead roles in the company’s repertory including the iconic Caught. From 2007 until 2014, she danced for The Lar Lubovitch Dance Company performing at many reputable venues such as New York City’s City Center, Washington DC’s Kennedy Center and Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater. She has appeared as a guest artist with The Battleworks Dance Company, The Buglisi Dance Theater, and was one of two featured dancers during the Glimmerglass Opera Festival. In 2008 she toured Italy with Why be extraordinary if you can be yourself, a show by Daniel Ezralow. Skarpetowska has worked as repetiteur and assistant choreographer to Lar Lubovitch, David Parsons and Robert Battle, setting works on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Introdans, Oldenburgisches Staatstheater, Ballet Austin, Atlanta Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, Repertory Dance Theatre, and Mikhailovsky Theater in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Her choreography has been commissioned by BalletX, Richmond Ballet, Rochester City Ballet, Grand Rapids Ballet, Parsons Dance, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater II, Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, Buglisi Dance Theater, Big Muddy Dance Company, Owen/Cox Dance Group, Bruce Wood Dance, The Juilliard School, and National Choreographers Initiative. For her choreographic achievements, Kate was named Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” in 2016 and was nominated for a NY Dance and Performance Award, The Bessie, in the emerging choreographer category in 2017. In 2018, Kate choreographed an Opera Theatre of Saint Louis production of Orfeo and Eurydice, in collaboration with director Ron Daniels and Maestro Pierre Vallet. Skarpetowska holds workshops throughout the world and has served on the faculty of the American Dance Festival, American Ballet Theater summer program, School of American Ballet, Boston Conservatory summer program, Peridance, Washington Ballet @THEARC and is a part time lecturer at University of California at Irvine. Kate resides in Saint Petersburg, Russia and New York City with her husband Aleksei and their French bulldog, Sloy.
Val Caniparoli’s versatility has made him one of the most sought-after American choreographers internationally. He is most closely associated with San Francisco Ballet, his artistic home for more than 50 years, where he also served as Resident Choreographer and Ballet Master. Caniparoli has contributed to the repertoires of more than 60 companies, including Joffrey Ballet, Finnish National Ballet, Royal New Zealand Ballet, Scottish Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Smuin Ballet, Boston Ballet, Hong Kong Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Alberta Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Northern Ballet Theatre, Pennsylvania Ballet, Alberta Ballet, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Ballet West (resident choreographer 1993-97), Washington Ballet, Israel Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Louisville Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Singapore Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, State Theatre Ballet of South Africa, and Tulsa Ballet (resident choreographer 2001-06). He has also choreographed for the Chicago Lyric Opera, San Francisco Opera, and The Metropolitan Opera and several occasions with the San Francisco Symphony. Choreography for the esteemed American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.), include A Christmas Carol, A Doll’s House, A Little Night Music, Arcadia, and the creation, with Carey Perloff, of a new movement-theater piece, Tosca Cafe. One of his most popular ballets, Lambarena, was nominated for the Prix Benois de la Danse in 1997 for Best Choreography and was also featured on Sesame Street. In 2015, Caniparoli co-choreographed, with Helgi Tomasson, a commercial for the 50th Anniversary Super Bowl with dancers from San Francisco Ballet.
Caniparoli’s full evening-length ballets include Lady of the Camellias, five different productions of The Nutcracker for Royal New Zealand Ballet, Louisville Ballet, Grand Rapids Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet and Tulsa Ballet (co-created with Ma Cong), Jekyll & Hyde for Finnish National Ballet and Val Caniparoli’s, A Cinderella Story choreographed to music of Richard Rodgers for Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
Born in Renton, Washington, Caniparoli opted for a professional dance career after studying music and theatre at Washington State University. He received a Ford Foundation Scholarship to attend San Francisco Ballet School. He performed with San Francisco Opera Ballet before joining San Francisco Ballet in 1973, where he continues to perform as a Principal Character Dancer