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Smuin's DANCE SERIES 1 Features Johnny Cash And Brubeck Ballets, More


Smuin's DANCE SERIES 1 Features Johnny Cash And Brubeck Ballets, More

Smuin Contemporary Ballet launches its 26th season with Dance Series 1, a fall program featuring three extraordinary works by established and rising choreographers. The music of country icon Johnny Cash comes alive in The Man in Black, an acclaimed work for three men and a woman, danced in cowboy boots.

This company premiere choreographed by James Kudelka, the former artistic director of the National Ballet of Canada, is an ode to American working-class grit featuring complex choreography influenced by popular country-western dance styles including line, square, swing, and step dancing. Arresting and inventive, Kudelka's piece was called "deeply touching and poignant" by Canada's National Post. It is set to six songs covered by Cash, including Trent Reznor's "Hurt" and Gordon Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind." Also on the bill: the mainstage premiere of former Smuin artist Rex Wheeler's Take Five, a delightfully witty work set to the jazzy beat of Dave Brubeck-just in time for the celebrated musician's centennial. Michael Smuin's "dazzling" and "unforgettable" (San Francisco Chronicle) Carmina Burana, set to the sensual Carl Orff score, rounds out this spectacular program of classical ballet and contemporary dance. Dance Series 1 will be presented September 20-21 at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek and September 27-October 6 at the Cowell Theater in San Francisco. For subscriptions and further information the public may call (415) 912-1899. Single tickets ($25-$97) are available by calling the individual venues or by visiting (This program will also be presented in February/March 2019 in Mountain View.)

Smuin's Dance Series 1 features the Company's premiere of choreographer James Kudelka's The Man in Black. One of the world's most versatile and innovative dance artists, Kudelka began his choreography career with The National Ballet of Canada in 1972. After a widely praised rework of The Nutcracker, Kudelka served as artistic director at The National Ballet for nine years. His piece utilizes six songs covered by Johnny Cash in his final years for "a casually intense work of fascinating complexity" (Columbus Alive). It makes an appeal to the tenaciousness of blue-collar American industry with a country-western dance style "taken to much more intricate and poetic ends" (Dance Magazine), in a piece lauded for proving "that a classical ballet company can honor tradition while accumulating the creative momentum that makes it artistically vibrant and relevant" (Dance Magazine).

The music of jazz legend Dave Brubeck will come alive in Take Five by former Company member Rex Wheeler. An exuberant tribute to Brubeck's Centennial, Wheeler's Take Five offers a charming and colorful set of inventive and surprising movement to match the landmark jazz standard. Born in London, Wheeler performed with Birmingham Royal Ballet, and for the Royal Family on several occasions, before joining Smuin as a dancer in 2015. As a choreographer, he has created works for organizations across the country, including Sinfonietta, presented last season by Smuin.

Rounding out the program is the revival of founder Michael Smuin's renowned Carmina Burana. In its premiere at Smuin over 20 years ago, Carmina Burana was praised as "an exuberant dance by an American artist at the peak of his powers" (San Francisco Chronicle). Set to German composer Carl Orff's triumphant score of the same title, this impassioned piece celebrates life, lust, and joy, honoring the enduring legacy of Michael Smuin's genius.

For more than 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. Artistic Director since 2007, Celia Fushille has celebrated 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.

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