Smuin Ballet Kicks Off 20th Anniversary Season with Montana Tour Today
To kick off its 20th Anniversary Season, Smuin Ballet will head to Montana, the home state of late founder Michael Smuin, to present a tour that includes Smuin's much-loved Sinatra ballet Fly Me to the Moon, as well as the acclaimed Dear Miss Cline from company Choreographer-in-Residence Amy Seiwert and Jazzin', a saucy and seductive work by Darrell Grand Moultrie. Smuin Ballet's Montana tour will play today and tomorrow, September 8 - 9 in Michael Smuin's hometown of Missoula at the Montana Repertory Theatre and September 13 at the Mansfield Theatre, Great Falls. Tickets are available by calling each venue's box office (see info at the end of the release). The Great Falls performance will benefit McLaughlin Research Institute for Biomedical Sciences, with which Smuin Ballet shares a close connection.
Michael Smuin's signature style is at the heart of his smash hit tribute to the genius of Frank Sinatra. A blend of ballet and popular dance performed against a twinkling backdrop of a glowing night sky, Fly Me to the Moon is the embodiment of the smooth and stylish songs of the "Chairman of the Board." This charming ballet highlights warm and witty favorites, including "I've Got You Under My Skin," "That's Life," and "The Lady is a Tramp," before culminating in a full chorus, high-kicking "New York, New York."
Smuin will also present the enchanting ballet Dear Miss Cline, a buoyant and colorful romp set to the music of Patsy Cline by Choreographer in Residence Amy Seiwert. The dance enjoyed a well-received World Premiere by Smuin Ballet in October 2011. Featuring ten Nashville tunes including "Walkin' After Midnight," "Come On In," "Triangle," "There He Goes," "Pick Me Up On Your Way Down," and more, this high spirited and sentimental hit charms audiences with a rollicking trip through Cline's country canon. A former dancer with Smuin Ballet and protégé of Michael Smuin, Seiwert has been choreographing since 1999 and has won numerous awards and critical accolades. Now an internationally-acclaimed choreographer, her works are in the repertory of Smuin Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, American Repertory Ballet, and Carolina Ballet, as well as Ballet Nouveau Colorado, Colorado Ballet, Robert Moses KIN, and Ballet Austin.
Jazzin', a saucy and seductive ballet from bold choreographer Darrell Grand Moultrie, was lauded by audiences and critics alike for its Smuin debut in the company's 2013 Spring Program. A six-part suite set to the music of Wynton Marsalis, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, and Andy Razaf,Jazzin' combines saucy innuendo and classic swing with pieces that include a witty and suggestive solo set to Razaf's "If I Can't Sell It, I'll Keep On Sittin' On It," and "The Strut," a rollicking ensemble dance set to Ellington's "Satin Doll." About Darrell Grand Moultrie The New York Times writes, "Moultrie moves his dancers around the stage with remarkable authority. [He] is obviously someone to watch." A Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship Award recipient and graduate of The Julliard School, Moultrie integrates multiple styles in his work, which is marked by sharp contrasts, bold patterns, and strong athleticism. In addition to choreographing for such renowned companies as Ailey 2, The Julliard School, and Ballet X, Moultrie was recently selected as one of Beyonce's choreographers for her current "Mrs. Carter Show" world tour.
A native of Missoula, Montana, company founder Michael Smuin left home at the age of 15 to pursue a ballet scholarship at the University of Utah, and moved on to San Francisco Ballet at the age of 17. He was a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre and the San Francisco Ballet, for which he served as co-artistic director with Lew Christensen from 1973 through 1985. He went on to work nationally as a choreography for national dance companies, films, and stage, winning numerous awards, including a Tony Award for his choreography of the Broadway show "Anything Goes." He founded Smuin Ballet in 1993, shaking up the ballet scene with an innovative style that combined the grace and technique of classical ballet with the energy and pizzazz of Broadway. Because of the spicy, colorful flavor of his ballets, he was described as both "the Bad Boy of Ballet" and the person "leading ballet into the 21st Century." Smuin passed away in 2007, but his work and legacy live on through the company that bears both his name and his fun-loving, spirited style.
Now at the helm of Smuin Ballet is Artistic and Executive Director Celia Fushille, whose vision includes maintaining and increasing the company's reputation for presenting accessible and innovative repertoire, attracting new audiences of all ages to the medium. The company has continued to highlight works created by Michael Smuin, both for his own and for other ballet companies, but Fushille also enriches its impressive repertoire with newer choreographic voices. During its New York City visit last summer, Smuin Ballet was praised as "irresistible, bright, and breezy" by the New York Times, which also noted, "Smuin dancers are at their finest."
Photo Credit: Keith Sutter