Smuin Ballet is known for offering a break from tradition—a new style, a new angle, a new perspective through which to view the art of dance. Following the inspiration of founder Michael Smuin, the company investigates alternate styles, as well as rising voices in the world of dance.

In advancing Michael’s fearless spirit and originality, Artistic Director Celia Fushille has invited Smuin Ballet dancer Ben Needham-Wood to choreograph an original piece for Dance Series One

Needham-Wood’s piece Maslow is an exploration of American psychologist Abraham Maslow, who is often known as a complement to the work of Freud. While Freud’s work centers on mental disorders, Maslow explored how individuals fulfill their greatest potentiBen2_Keith Sutter_webal, or “self-actualization” as Maslow termed it.

Needham-Wood believes this subconscious ambition motivates him to create: “I have always been a perfectionist, and incidentally my passion lies in a subjective art form. There is no perfect in ballet, there is only artistic preference. So, as a perfectionist in a subjective art, I am free to aspire towards my own, ever-progressing ideal.”

Featuring seven dancers from the company, Needham-Wood’s piece is a contemporary ballet with hip hop influences; quite different from the other program offerings. Maslow is set to an original composition by Ben Sollee (a cellist and friend of Needham-Wood’s from his years with the Louisville Ballet), and the intricate score reflects the originality of the movement.

Needham-Wood is optimistic for both Maslow and his choreographic career: “I want to reinvent my process to become a choreographer that could inspire the dancer I am today. Maslow offers a glimpse inside the mind of a man searching for his greatest potential. I’m eager to see what potential we can unlock with the artists, and I hope to inspire something new in the minds of our audience as well.”

See Maslow for yourself at Smuin Ballet’s Dance Series One, which opens September 18. 14 performances only—Purchase tickets here.

A collaboration between Ben Needham-Wood and Ben Sollee: