Smuin Ballet's THE CHRISTMAS BALLET Returns 11/20

Smuin Ballet returns with what has become an essential holiday tradition for Bay Area families: Smuin's annual The Christmas Ballet. With equal parts sugar and spice, offering something for both the naughty and nice, this ever-changing carousel of mischief and elegance includes something for everyone, from ballet, tap, and swing to a wealth of other dances drawn from holiday traditions from around the world. This edition of The Christmas Ballet will include new choreography from Smuin's acclaimed Choreographer-in-Residence Amy Seiwert and another exciting addition by Smuin dancer Nicole Haskins. Proclaimed "the freshest show in town" by the San Francisco Chronicle, The Christmas Ballet will tour the Bay Area, beginning with shows in Walnut Creek (November 20-21), continuing in Carmel (December 4-5), and Mountain View (December 9-13), and finishing up with its annual holiday run at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco (December 17-27). Tickets ($23-$71) are available by calling the individual venues (see below for details) or visiting www.smuinballet.org.

Created in 1995 and now celebrating its 21st season, The Christmas Ballet has a diverse set of seasonal offerings with something for everyone. The first act, Classical Christmas, features white-clad dancers performing holiday favorites including Michael Smuin classics "The Gloucestershire Wassail" and "Ave Maria," as well as Amy Seiwert's "Carol of the Bells" and "Sleigh Ride" and Michael Smuin's nod to Hanukkah "Licht bensh'n." This year, the Company will unwrap a world premiere from Smuin dancer Nicole Haskins set to the jubilant "Joy to the World." Haskins' professional career began with The Sacramento Ballet, followed by The Washington Ballet. She is in her third season with Smuin Ballet and was most recently featured in Ma Cong's French Twist. Haskins is also an experienced choreographer who has been awarded the Fellowship Grant at the New York Choreographic Institute. She made her debut as a choreographer with Smuin Ballet last season during the Christmas Ballet with a traditional piece set to James Galway's "Fantasia" on I Saw Three Ships, which the San Francisco Chronicle called "an enchanting sextet."

The Cool Christmas second act of The Christmas Ballet features a red-hot costume change, with dancers performing a modern mash-up of numbers including a snow-flecked "White Christmas," a flirty "Baby, It's Cold Outside," and the return of tap masterpiece "Bells of Dublin," guest-starring Smuin veteran and fan-favorite Shannon Hurlburt back at Smuin for select performances. Also on the bill are Val Caniparoli's rollicking "Jingle Bells Mambo," Amy Seiwert's "Please Come Home," and a hip-rolling Elvis in "Blue Christmas."

Act II will unveil a world premiere by Choreographer-in-Residence Amy Seiwert set to the classic "Home for the Holidays." Seiwert had the honor of working with her mentor Michael Smuin for eight of her nine years as a dancer with Smuin Ballet. As a choreographer, her collaborations with artists of other disciplines and commitment to experimental work from a classical base make her a unique voice in the Bay Area dance community. The Bay Area Reporter declares her to be "the most talented and prolific young choreographer working from a ballet base around here" and the San Francisco Chronicle has called her "sharply innovative" and "one of the country's most exciting young dance makers." She was named one of "25 to Watch" by Dance Magazine, one of the "Hot 20 under 40" by 7x7 Magazine, and twice her choreography has been listed in the "Top 10" dance events of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle. In addition to Smuin Ballet, Seiwert's work is in the repertory of companies across the country, including Ballet Austin, BalletMet, American Repertory Ballet, Washington Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Oakland Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Colorado Ballet, Louisville Ballet, and Cincinnati Ballet, as well as Robert Moses KIN.

Debuting in San Francisco in 1994, Smuin Ballet immediately established itself as one of the Bay Area's most eagerly watched performing arts companies of international acclaim, performing to sold-out houses on U.S. and European tours. The Company pushes the boundaries of contemporary ballet within a distinctly American style, combining classical ballet training, technique, and artistry with uncommon physicality and expression. Smuin offers audiences an experience of ballet that is entertaining, evocative, and original. 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 inception.

Since 2008, Artistic Director Celia Fushille's vision includes sustaining and increasing the Company's reputation for presenting compelling and innovative repertoire, as well as attracting new audiences to the medium. Smuin Ballet continues to showcase Michael Smuin's work, while enriching its impressive repertoire with contemporary choreographic voices, commissioning world premieres and collaborating with inventive choreographers from around the world.

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