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    Smuin’s The Christmas Ballet Goes Virtual!

    Queen’s “Thank God It’s Christmas” (“it’s been a long hard year”) will resonate even deeper this year. Now imagine a ballet set to this driving tune. Or to Eartha Kitt’s sexy, purring “Santa Baby” (“I want a yacht and really that’s not a lot!”). The feisty, multi-talented dancers at Smuin Contemporary Ballet bring these offbeat holiday hits and other modern and classic tunes to joyous life in their riotous annual confection—and if you haven’t ventured out to see Smuin’s The Christmas Balletin the past, the good news is this year it will come to you.

    For the very first time, Smuin will warm hearts and homes virtually this holiday season when this favorite annual dance tradition, featuring everything from tap and jazz, to swing and sock-hopping, can be viewed from the comfort of your home. We suggest you grab your favorite grog, don your gay apparel, and enjoy this showcase of beautiful dances set to popular melodies, traditional holiday songs, and offbeat Christmas tunes. Along with a return to Michael Smuin’s original pieces such as the sultry “Christmas in New Orleans” and iconic, crowd-favorite “Santa Baby” (featuring the world’s longest feather boa), the company will unwrap new surprises from Smuin’s multi-talented dancers and guest choreographers.

    Created by Michael Smuin in 1995 after looking for an alternative to The Nutcracker in holiday dance entertainment, The Christmas Ballet celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2020. Smuin artists returned to the studio earlier this fall and began working safely in small “pods” on solos and duets. Three different programs will be presented, one by each “pod,” offering a delightful mélange of live performance followed by full-cast recorded highlights from past Christmas Ballet presentations.

    Program A featuresSmuin artists Brandon Alexander, Cassidy Isaacson, Terez Dean Orr, and John Speed Orr in a thrilling program that unveils the world premiere of Kacey Musgraves’ “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” choreographed by Imagery Artistic Director and former Smuin Choreographer in Residence Amy Seiwert, a protégé of founder Michael Smuin. Program A will also unveil a contemporary new work by Isaacson set to indie artist Harry Hudson’s “‘Zat You Santa Claus?” plus Rex Wheeler’s “Silver Bells,” Nicole Haskins’ playful “J-I-N-G-L-E Bells,” and “Domine” and “La Virgen” by Michael Smuin.

    Program B is a festive and innovative program that will include the world premiere of “Snow Day” by Smuin alum Rex Wheeler set to Johnny Mathis’ classic “Sleigh Ride.” Born in London, Wheeler joined Smuin as a dancer in 2015 and has presented several original works during his time with the Company. (Wheeler also made a riotous guest appearance as “Lady Camden” performing “Santa Baby” in a special LGBTQ night last season that will ne’er be forgot!) The bill also includes a fresh new version of “White Christmas” choreographed by the dancers of this pod: Ian Buchanan, Maggie Carey, Tess Lane, and Max van der Sterre. Michael Smuin’s feisty “Riu, riu, chiu,” and “Hodie Cristus Natus Est” return in Program B, as well as the sprightly “Zither Carol” and a beautiful pas de deux set to Willie Nelson’s “Pretty Paper.”

    Program C features Smuin artists Tessa Barbour, Mengjun Chen, Ricardo Dyer, Lauren Pschirrer, and Brennan Wall. A not-to-be-missed world premiere set to Queen’s “Thank God It’s Christmas” from Ben Needham-Wood will be unwrapped. Former dancer and Emmy Award-winning choreographer Needham-Wood joined the company in 2013 and has created a number of memorable works including an off-kilter “Frosty the Snowman” for The Christmas Ballet. Program B will also feature a beautiful new piece created by Barbour set to “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” a duet by Wall set to Arcangelo Corelli’s “Christmas Concerto,” and works from Smuin’s holiday repertoire including Michael Smuin’s spirited crowd-pleasers “Drummer Boy,” “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” and the lively tap dance “Bells of Dublin.”

    All programs will include exclusive looks at dances from previous Christmas Ballet performances, including Smuin’s iconic “Santa Baby.”

    Smuin’s The Christmas Ballet

    Performances will be streamed December 11–24. All-access passes and gift pack options are available, bundling tickets with Smuin-branded masks, dancer trading cards, and even a packet of “snow” to bring home Smuin’s favorite Christmas Ballet tradition of sprinkling snow over audiences at the end of every performance. Fun to enjoy, great to share as a gift.

    For tickets ($49–$139) and more information: www.smuinballet.org

    Published on December 3, 2020