Izzie Award-nominated RENAISSANCE Streams Free For Smuin's Hump Day Ballets
Smuin Contemporary Ballet announces Amy Seiwert's Renaissance as the next installment of its Hump Day Ballets series, which aims to brighten mid-week spirits with free video streaming of a ballet from the Company's archives.
Departing Smuin to lead Sacramento Ballet after ten years as its Choreographer in Residence, master dancemaker Seiwert returned in April 2019 to help celebrate Smuin's 25th anniversary season. This "timeless" (San Francisco Chronicle) world premiere work set to the music of Kitka Women's Vocal Ensemble was inspired by a 385-mile protest wall formed by women in India on New Year's Day 2019.
Renaissance will be offered beginning Wednesday, May 20, 2020, accompanied by a video introduction by current Smuin dancers Terez Dean Orr, Tessa Barbour, and Peter Kurta. The recorded performance will be available for 48 hours only, with streaming instructions announced through Smuin's email list (sign up at smuinballet.org), or via Smuin's Facebook (facebook.com/SmuinBallet) and Instagram (instagram.com/smuinballet). For more information the public may visit smuinballet.org.
Renaissance was inspired by the "Women's Wall" protest, in which millions of women joined hands and formed a 385-mile "wall" in Kerala, to create awareness of gender equality and to object a religious ban that prevented women of childbearing age from entering one of the country's sacred Hindu temples. Across the street, many of the men in their lives stood with them in solidarity. "They stood with them, but not side by side," Seiwert said. "I loved that show of support-that you can stand by without interfering in something that's not yours." Renaissance is intended to reflect this fight for equality which, from Seiwert's perspective, is a communal one. The dancers take turns supporting each other-women lifting women, men sometimes observing and sometimes helping. "What I have enjoyed exploring the most [with this work] is the strength and the joy of the community," Seiwert said of her experience. "It's that community aspect of 'we're creating this together.' What I hope people walk away from it with is that sense of community and a sense of joy." The athleticism and "raw here-we-are physical presence" (San Francisco Chronicle) of Smuin's artists is showcased by Seiwert's intricate choreography in Renaissance, which complements the empowering a cappella soundtrack of Kitka Women's Vocal Ensemble. The acclaimed Oakland-based a cappella group, which specializes in the techniques of traditional and contemporary Balkan, Slavic, and Caucasian vocal styling, has earned recognition from the National Endowment for the Arts, Chorus America, and the American Choral Directors' Association. "When [Artistic Director Celia Fushille] approached me about creating for this season and the desire to have a celebration, this music really spoke to me for that," said Seiwert. Renaissance was nominated for two Isadora Duncan Dance Awards for best choreography and best ensemble work.
Amy Seiwert enjoyed a nineteen-year career as a dancer with Smuin, LA Chamber, and Sacramento Ballet. While dancing at Smuin, she became involved with the "Protégé Program," where her choreography was mentored by Michael Smuin. Fushille named Seiwert Smuin's first Choreographer in Residence upon her retirement from dancing in 2008, creating works which San Francisco Chronicle described as "keeping founder Michael Smuin's legacy of unabashed showmanship alive!" As a choreographer, Seiwert has pushed the boundaries of dance, collaborating with artists of other disciplines and experimenting with all of its various forms and expressions from a classical base-making her an invaluable voice in the Bay Area dance community. Named one of "25 to Watch" by Dance Magazine, Seiwert was the first National Artist in Residence with The Joyce Theater in 2017. She has works in the repertory of Ballet Austin, BalletMet, Washington Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Oakland Ballet, and American Repertory Ballet, as well as Robert Moses KIN. In July 2018, Seiwert was named Artistic Director of Sacramento Ballet while continuing in her role as Artistic Director for Imagery, Seiwert's longtime contemporary ballet company. She still choreographs for its highly acclaimed SKETCH Series.
Smuin's Hump Day Ballets series was created to share inspiring art and enable the Company to stay connected with its community during the Shelter-in-Place order. Every Wednesday a different ballet from Smuin's repertoire, introduced by a current Company dancer or guest artist, is released to the public. The sharing of these productions is made possible by the generous support of Smuin's partners-the choreographers, unions, designers, and composers providing permission outside of standard contracts to share these creations with the community.
For more than 25 years Smuin has pushed the boundaries of contemporary ballet by presenting works that engage and delight audiences with their uncommon physicality and expression. Founded in San Francisco in 1994 by Tony and Emmy award-winning choreographer Michael Smuin, the company is committed to creating work that merges the diverse vocabularies of classical ballet and contemporary dance. Since 2007, Artistic Director Celia Fushille has built on Michael Smuin's legacy by creating her own vision and expanding the company's repertoire. Fushille has invited numerous choreographers to create works that highlight the Smuin artists' extraordinary versatility, presenting pieces that are unique, joyful, athletic and inventive.