Smuin Ballet to Kick Off Spring 2015 Season with PETAL, ROMEO AND JULIET and More

Smuin Ballet closes its 21st Season with the Unlaced Dance Series, featuring Helen Pickett's Petal, a world premiere by Adam Hougland, and two Michael Smuin classics. A highlight of the program will be the balcony pas de deux from Michael Smuin's acclaimed Romeo and Juliet. Also on the bill is the highly-anticipated return of Helen Pickett's Petal, which sets pairs of dancers into sensual, lyrical motion against a backdrop of vivid spring hues. In this program, Smuin Ballet will unveil a world premiere from Adam Hougland, set to music by indie-rock singer-songwriter Joan as Police Woman.

Hougland's ballet Cold Virtues received its lauded West Coast premiere with Smuin Ballet in 2012. In celebration of Edith Piaf's Centennial, the evening will also include Michael Smuin's Hearts Suite, set to an Edith Piaf vocal score. Unlaced will kick off its tour at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (May 8-17); continuing at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts (May 21-24); Walnut Creek's Lesher Center for the Arts (May 29-30); and concluding at Carmel's Sunset Center (June 5-6).

Tickets ($24-$73) are available by calling the individual venues or visiting www.smuinballet.org.

The Unlaced Dance Series will feature the balcony pas de deux from Michael Smuin's widely-acclaimed Romeo and Juliet. The ballet was created in 1976 during Smuin's tenure as co-artistic director at San Francisco Ballet, where it received rapturous reviews, and became the first full-length ballet - as well as the first performance by a West Coast company - to be shown on the PBS TV series Great Performances: Dance in America. The San Francisco Chronicle said, "Smuin's Romeo and Juliet for San Francisco Ballet helped raise the company's national and international profile."

Helen Pickett's Petal received its West Coast Premiere with Smuin Ballet in 2013. Called "A resonant exploration of emotional discovery" by The New York Times, and "Spellbinding" by the San Francisco Chronicle, Petal is set to an effervescent score by Philip Glass and Thomas Montgomery Newman. The Contra Costa Times called Petal a "visually silken and color-drenched dance." The Resident Choreographer for Atlanta Ballet, Pickett has set her works on companies around the world including Boston Ballet, Washington Ballet, Louisville Ballet, Ballet X, Royal Ballet of Flanders, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Semperoper/Dresden Ballet, Vienna State Opera, and Scottish Ballet, among many others.

The Unlaced Dance Series will also include a world premiere from acclaimed choreographer Adam Hougland whose Cold Virtues was lauded by audiences and critics when it was performed by Smuin Ballet in 2012. The San Francisco Chronicle called it "engrossing to the end." Hougland's new work will be set to music by indie rock singer-songwriter Joan as Police Woman (born Joan Wasser) whose cross between American soul and punk rock R&B offers a surprisingly uplifting sound, in which Wasser blends her own vocals, violin, and guitar with a variety of collaborators. Hougland is Principal Choreographer for Louisville Ballet and Resident Choreographer for Cincinnati Ballet, whose accomplishments include original works for American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, Introdans in the Netherlands, the Limón Dance Company, The Washington Ballet, and the New York Choreographic Institute at New York City Ballet. He created a World Premiere for Julliard's Centennial Celebration that was broadcast on PBS's 'Live from Lincoln Center' series. He has won the Princess Grace Award for Choreography, the Choo-San Goh Award for Choreography, and was included in Dance Magazine's 25 to Watch for 2011.

The evening will also include vignettes from Michael Smuin's passionate ballet Hearts Suite, a journey based on the 1945 French Film "Les Enfants de Paradis," featuring music by Edith Piaf. This gem of a ballet takes audiences to the 1840's Parisian theatrical world, in which a man loses his heart to a mysterious woman. Of Hearts Suite, which was created in 1986, the Los Angeles Times said, "the events of 'Les Enfants du Paradis' are summarized in a feverish dance spectacle. Focusing on only two of the film's many characters, and on its theme of theater as a metaphor for life, Smuin fills the stage... with bravura ballet technique." On opening night (May 8), legendary French vocalist Raquel Bitton will perform the music of Edith Piaf live for one special performance.

Debuting in San Francisco in March 1994, Smuin Ballet immediately established itself as "one of this country's most entertaining, original ballet troupes" (Dance Magazine), and as a dance company of international acclaim. Michael Smuin's singular philosophy to create pieces which merge the diverse vocabularies of classical ballet and contemporary dance has served as the company's touchstone since its beginning.

Now at the helm of Smuin Ballet is Artistic Director Celia Fushille, whose vision includes maintaining and increasing the company's reputation for presenting compelling and innovative repertoire, attracting new audiences of all ages to the medium. The company has continued to highlight works created by Smuin, both for his own and for other ballet companies. Fushille also enriches its impressive repertoire with newer choreographic voices, bringing the Bay Area its first look at works by exciting choreographers from around the world, as well as developing world premieres by company members.

SHOWS:

SAN FRANCISCO:

May 8-17, 2015

8:00pm Friday, May 8

2:00 & 8:00pm Saturday, May 9

2:00pm Sunday, May 10

8:00pm Thursday, May 14

8:00pm Friday, May 15

2:00 & 8:00pm Saturday, May 16

2:00pm Sunday, May 17

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

YBCA Theater

701 Mission Street

(415) 912-1899 or www.smuinballet.org

Tickets: ($24-$67)*

MOUNTAIN VIEW:

May 21-24, 2015

8:00pm Thursday, May 21

8:00pm Friday, May 22

2:00 & 8:00pm Saturday, May 23

2:00pm Sunday, May 24

Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts

500 Castro Street, Mountain View

(650) 903-6000 or www.smuinballet.org

Tickets ($52-$71)*

WALNUT CREEK:

May 29-30, 2015

8:00pm Friday, May 29

2:00pm Saturday, May 30

Lesher Center for the Arts

1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek

(925) 943-7469 or www.smuinballet.org

Tickets ($54-$73)*

CARMEL:

June 5-6, 2015

8:00pm Friday, June 5

2:00pm Saturday, June 6

Sunset Center

San Carlos Street, Carmel

(831) 620-2048 or www.smuinballet.org

Tickets ($56-$73)*

*All prices are listed without fees - box office and order fees may apply.

Discounts are available for students and groups of 10 or more.

Pictured: Smuin Ballet dancers Erin Yarbrough and Jonathan Powell in Michael Smuin's Romeo and Juliet, part of Smuin Ballet'sUNLACED Dance Series in the 2014-2015 season. Photo by Keith Sutter.

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