Photo Flash: Smuin Kicks Off 25th Season With DANCE SERIES 01
Smuin launches its 25th anniversary season with Dance Series 01, a fall program that expands the boundaries of contemporary ballet, pays tribute to Smuin's founder, and celebrates the company's quarter century mark.
Acclaimed dancemaker Trey McIntyre returns to Smuin with Blue Until June, a thrilling tribute to Etta James. Continuing Smuin's long-time dedication to fostering new talent within the company is a trio of groundbreaking works first developed in Smuin's Choreography Showcase: Merely Players by Smuin dancer Nicole Haskins, Echo (formerly titled Reflection) by Smuin dancer Ben Needham-Wood, and Sinfonietta by former Smuin dancer Rex Wheeler. Dance Series 01 will also include two works by founder Michael Smuin: Schubert Scherzo, an effervescent dance set to Schubert's sprightly C-Major Symphony, and Eternal Idol, a romantic pas de deux inspired by Auguste Rodin sculptures. Dance Series 01 will be presented September 21-22 at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek and September 28-October 6 at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. For subscriptions and further information the public may call (415) 912-1899. Single tickets ($25-$81) are available by calling the individual venues or by visiting www.smuinballet.org. (This program will also be presented in February 2019 in Mountain View and Carmel.)
Launching Smuin's Dance Series 01 is Trey McIntyre's Blue Until June. This sultry dance set to the heart-wrenching vocals of blues legend Etta James is McIntyre's third collaboration with Smuin, which also commissioned his hit Oh, Inverted World and the Summer of Love celebration Be Here Now. Hailed by The New York Timesas "one of the most important choreographers working today," McIntyre has produced more than 100 pieces during his career, and his work has been lauded for its "true artistry" by the San Francisco Examiner and "witty physicality" by the San Francisco Chronicle. The Palm Beach Post called Blue Until June an "eye-opener" that "beautifully captures the innate desperation of the blues."
Also on the program is a trio of main stage premieres by current and former Smuin dancers, original works developed in Smuin Choreography Showcases. Merely Players offers a groundbreaking piece by Smuin dancer Nicole Haskins set to pop music. Now in her sixth season at Smuin, Haskin's talent has established her as both a standout dancer and choreographer. Echo is an emotive dance choreographed by Smuin dancer Ben Needham-Wood, who has created a number of memorable works for the company. Most recently, he received a Northern California Regional Emmy Award (2018) for his role in producing, writing, and choreographing "BaseBallet: Into the Game," a documentary promoting the athleticism of dance. A third piece making its mainstage debut is Sinfonietta by Rex Wheeler, who retired from the company at the end of last season. Born in London, Wheeler performed with Birmingham Royal Ballet and, on several occasions, for the Royal Family before joining Smuin in 2015. As a choreographer, he has created works for organizations across the country.
Returning to celebrate Michael Smuin's brilliant choreography are Schubert Scherzo and Eternal Idol, two lauded works from the founder, revived for this special anniversary season. Set to Schubert's sprightly C-Major Symphony, the joyous Schubert Scherzo was called "a clear statement of [Smuin's] legacy, at its best" by The New York Times. In contrast is Smuin's Eternal Idol, a sensuous pas de deux set to the slow movement of Chopin's F Minor Piano Concerto. This wistful imagining of Auguste Rodin's sculptures of "The Kiss" and "The Eternal Idol," where stone is transformed into flesh and blood, was originally created for American Ballet Theatre in 1969.
For 25 years Smuin has pushed the boundaries of contemporary ballet within a distinctly American style, engaging and delighting audiences with 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. As Artistic Director since 2007, Celia Fushille has maintained Michael Smuin's legacy while enriching the company's impressive repertoire by collaborating with inventive choreographers from around the world, commissioning world premieres, and bringing new contemporary choreographic voices to the Smuin stage.
Photo Credit: Keith Sutter