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    Smuin Ballet’s New Season and LGBT Night

    1-PHOTO-Page 13-Darren+Anderson-Smuin Ballet(Editor’s Note: Choreographer Darren Anderson, who was also an internationally acclaimed ballet dancer, created Smuin Ballet’s LGBT Night. Born in Edmonton, Canada, and trained on scholarship with both the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre, he danced with Cincinnati Ballet and as a soloist with Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet prior to joining Smuin Ballet in 2008. He was featured in Michael’s “Dances With Songs,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Bouquet,” and “Songs of Mahler,” along with Jirí Kylián’s “Petite Mort.” Prior to joining Smuin Ballet, he danced in works by George Balanchine, Agnes de Mille, Rudi Van Dantzig, John Cranko, Jirí Kylián, John Neumeier, Val Caniparoli and Stanton Welch. He retired from dancing at the end of the 2012 season, and Smuin’s Community Relations Manager. He has also continued to choreograph works for the Smuin Choreographer’s Showcase, and the company premiered his dance set to “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” in The Christmas Ballet 2012 edition. We recently caught up with Darren to learn more Smuin’s LGBT Night as well as the company’s new season.)

    BT: What inspired you to create LGBT Night, and what are you most looking forward to at this year’s event?

    DA: Smuin Ballet has long enjoyed a close relationship with the LGBT community, and we wanted to provide an opportunity for our supporters and fans to mix and mingle, and also to meet their favorite dancers. In four years, it has grown into a popular event and is a great way to combine a love of the arts with a chance to meet and have fun with others. This year’s event will be very special, as we are tying it into Amy Seiwert’s Dear Miss Cline Ballet, set to the music of Patsy Cline. We are celebrating this toe-tapping, high-energy work with our 4th Annual LGBT Night October 10th, themed “Swing Your Partner”! Guests are invited to join us for a country-themed post performance shindig with artists of the Smuin Ballet Company. There will be finger lickin’ appetizers, beer, wine, hard cider and the LGBT Foggy City Dancers giving a live square dance demonstration on the best ways to swing the night away!

    BT: Share some of the other important connections between Smuin Ballet and the LGBT community.

    DA: Smuin Ballet has participated in countless charitable fundraisers for the LGBT community over the twenty years of our existence. We have also donated a portion of tickets sales from some our own performances to important LGBT causes, such as Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation, The Trevor Project, and many more. Smuin Ballet has also been one of the few ballet companies that has enjoyed the opportunity of having a presence at past annual Castro Street Fairs.

    BT: Tell us about the new season.

    DA: We are extremely excited about our 20th XX Anniversary Season! It is going to be a fantastic showcase of some of our historic and best loved works, such as Michael Smuin’s Carmina Burana, Dancin’ with Gershwin, and our highly-anticipated holiday tradition, The Christmas Ballet, as well as impressive new works by world-class choreographers. San Francisco’s very own Val Caniparoli will present a world premiere in our XXcentric program in the Spring, on the same program that our resident choreographer Amy Seiwert will create her own world premiere with the company.

    The season launches in October at the Palace of Fine Arts, with our XXtremes Fall Program, when Smuin Ballet will proudly present the Northern California premier of renowned choreographer Jirí Kylián’s timeless masterpiece Return to a Strange Land (a work that hasn’t been performed in California since 1994). This stunning ballet is a beautifully crafted response by Kylián to the loss of his mentor and one of his greatest inspirations, Stuttgart Ballet’s late Artistic Director John Cranko. Return to a Strange Land is an eagerly awaited treat for fans of Kylián, whose Petite Mort was performed by Smuin in 2010 (the first professional Bay Area company selected to perform that iconic work). On the same program will be one of Michael Smuin’s most memorable, haunting ballets, Carmina Burana, and Amy Seiwert’s joyful, playful Dear Miss Cline. Set to tunes including “Walkin’ After Midnight,” “Come On In,” “Triangle,” “There He Goes,” “Pick Me Up On Your Way Down,” and more, this high spirited and sentimental hit charms audiences with a rollicking trip through Cline’s country canon. It is a sure fire good time.

    BT: Are you doing work as a choreographer now for Smuin?

    DA: I am really looking forward to our choreographer’s showcase in the Spring, which I will likely choreograph a piece for. I also choreographed a piece for The Chrismas Ballet last year. It has been delightful to transition from dancer to choreographer and I am looking forward to doing more.

    It is important to note, as we enter our 20th Anniversary season, that Smuin Ballet has confidently demonstrated that we have stood the test of time. Given all the trials and tribulations faced over the years, such as the tragic loss of our founder and leader on the cusp of the economic downfall, we have remained standing and stronger than ever.

    I always like to express to people that our performances truly have something for everyone. The majority of our performances are mixed repertoire, and we have historically been known to push the limits and, by doing so, provide the audience with an emotional experience; after all, isn’t that what attending the theater is all about?

    Smuin Ballet’s XXtremes Fall Program plays October 4-12 at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts Theatre. Single tickets ($25-$72) and 20th Anniversary Season subscriptions ($120-$174) are available at www.smuinballet.org or by calling (415) 912-1899.