Smuin Dancers Jazz It Up In Brubeck Tribute TAKE FIVE For Hump Day Ballets
Smuin Contemporary Ballet announces choreographer/former Smuin dancer Rex Wheeler's exuberant Take Five 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.
This delightfully witty work, set to the jazzy beat of Dave Brubeck, made its mainstage premiere last fall just in time for the celebrated musician's centennial in 2020. Take Five will be offered beginning Wednesday, May 27, 2020, accompanied by video introductions by both Wheeler and current Smuin dancer Maggie Carey, who danced in the world premiere last September.
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.
An exuberant tribute to Brubeck, Take Five offers a charming and colorful set of surprising movements to match the irrepressible and iconic jazz tunes. Called "bright and breezy" by the San Francisco Chronicle, the vignettes of saucy balletic movements showcase Wheeler's inventive choreography. Outfitted in neon brights by Kaori Higashiyama, Smuin's athletic artists prance playfully under vivid lighting by Michael Oesch to the Brubeck classics "Take Five," "I'm in a Dancing Mood," "Camptown Races," "Unsquare Dance," and "Blue Rondo à la Turk."
Born in London, Wheeler trained at The Royal Ballet School and Elmhurst School for Dance. As a student, he performed with Birmingham Royal Ballet and, on several occasions, for the Royal Family. Wheeler later joined Slovak National Ballet in 2009 followed by the Sacramento Ballet in 2010. As a choreographer, he has created works for organizations across the country, including the Sacramento Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Utah Regional Ballet, Crooked Tree Arts Center, and Ballet Academy East. Wheeler joined Smuin as a dancer in 2015 and has presented several original works during his time with the Company, including festive pieces for Smuin's annual The Christmas Ballet program, and Sinfonietta, which premiered in Smuin's 2018-19 season.
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.