Smuin's CHRISTMAS BALLET, UNCORKED! Returns This Holiday Season

The Bay Area's hottest holiday ticket gets a 21st season kick when Smuin Ballet's The Christmas Ballet, Uncorked! makes its sassy return, a perfect gift for audience members of all ages. An ever-changing carousel of mischief and elegance, this enormously popular holiday celebration offers something for everyone, from ballet, tap, and swing to a wealth of other dances drawn from holiday traditions from around the world. This year The Christmas Ballet, Uncorked! will include new choreography from Smuin's acclaimed Choreographer-in-Residence Amy Seiwert, as well as debut pieces from dancers Ben Needham-Wood, Nicole Haskins, and Weston Krukow The Christmas Ballet, Uncorked! will tour the Bay Area, beginning with shows in Walnut Creek (November 21-22), continuing in Carmel (December 5-6), and Mountain View (December 10-14), and finishing up with its annual holiday run at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco (December 18-27). Tickets ($24-$68) are available by calling the individual venues or visiting www.smuinballet.org

The Christmas Ballet, Uncorked! 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 "Wassail" and "Ave Maria." This year, the Company will unwrap a world premiere from Amy Seiwert set to Chanticleer's "Caroling, Caroling/Bright, Bright" from the album A Chanticleer Christmas. A former Smuin dancer, Seiwert has been choreographing since 1999 and has won numerous awards and critical accolades. 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." Her work is in the repertory of Smuin Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Richmond Ballet, and Atlanta Ballet, as well as Ballet Nouveau Colorado, Robert Moses KIN, and Ballet Austin.

Act I will also feature a world premiere by Smuin dancer Nicole Haskins set to James Galway's "Fantasia" on I Saw Three Ships. Nicole's professional career began with The Sacramento Ballet, followed by The Washington Ballet. Career highlights thus far include her performances as "Alice" in Ron Cunningham's Alice in Wunderland, "Lucy" in Michael Pink's Dracula, "Liberty Bell" in Balanchine's Stars and Stripes and Edwaard Liang's Wunderland. She is in her second season with Smuin Ballet and was most recently featured in Garret Ammon's Serenade for Strings and Michael Smuin's Frankie & Johnny. Nicole is also an experienced choreographer who has been awarded the Fellowship Grant at the New York Choreographic Institute.

The Cool Christmas second act of The Christmas Ballet, Uncorked! features a red hot costume change, with dancers performing a modern mash-up of numbers including "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.

Cool Christmas also boasts a world premiere from Smuin dancer Ben Needham-Wood, who will create a piece set to Zee Avi's "Frosty the Snowman." Ben spent five years performing with the Louisville Ballet where he performed principal and featured roles in a variety of classical and contemporary works, including "Romeo" in Alun Jones's Romeo and Juliet, and "Armand" in Val Caniparoli's Lady of the Camellias. Ben has danced featured roles in contemporary works by Adam Hougland, Helen Pickett, and Amy Seiwert, among others.

Smuin dancer Weston Krukow will also be presenting a new piece in Act II, set to music to be announced. Weston graduated from the University of Arizona's School of Dance in 2012. His most notable principal roles whilst at University of Arizona included "Sanguinic," the principal male in Balanchine's The Four Temperaments and "Spirit of Fosse/Billy Flynn" in Ann Reinking's Chicago Suite. He joined Smuin Ballet last season and was most recently featured in Amy Seiwert's Objects of Curiosity and Michael Smuin's Frankie & Johnny.

Debuting in San Francisco in 1994, Smuin Ballet immediately established itself as one of the Bay Area's most eagerly watched performing arts companies, as "one of this country's most entertaining, original ballet troupes" (Dance Magazine), and as a dance company of international acclaim, performing to sold-out houses on European tours. 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.

At the creative helm of Smuin Ballet is Artistic Director Celia Fushille, whose vision includes maintaining and increasing the company's reputation for presenting entertaining 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, but 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.

Pictured: Smuin Ballet Dancers Susan Roemer and Aaron Thayer dance in Winter Weather as part of the UNCORKED The Christmas Ballet, 2014 Edition in the 2014-2015 season. Photo by David Allen.

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