Recent Comments

    Smuin Champions Female Choreographers

    Smuin Contemporary Ballet has become an incubator for rising choreographic voices from within the company—female dancemakers, in particular.

    When Smuin dancer Brennan Wall joined the company in 2019, she was unaware that one of her very own pieces would premiere on Smuin’s mainstage just three years later. Wall’s Untwine, a striking contemporary piece for eight dancers, will be unveiled in the company’s upcoming Dance Series 2, performing in San Francisco April 29–May 7, 2022.

    Wall arrived at Smuin with a solid dance résumé, but Smuin Artistic Director Celia Fushille thought she saw something special in this new dancer that might lead her to become a dancemaker, and invited Wall to create a piece for Smuin’s 2021 Choreography Showcase. The contemporary pas de deux impressed her so much she asked Wall to expand the piece for a premiere, which audiences will see on Smuin’s mainstage in its 2021–22 season finale.

    “I can’t believe one of my works will be up there, alongside works by such acclaimed choreographers as Val Caniparoli and Amy Seiwert!” Wall told the San Francisco Bay Times. In addition to Wall’s Untwine, her fellow Smuin artist Tessa Barbour will also debut a classical piece set to Tchaikovsky in Dance Series 2.

    Fushille has long fostered choreographic voices from within the company, following the trailblazing lead set by the company’s founder, Michael Smuin. His first protégé, Amy Seiwert, a company dancer and burgeoning dancemaker, was selected by Fushille as Smuin’s first Choreographer-in-Residence. Seiwert has gone on to create highly acclaimed pieces for Smuin and on other companies across the country.

    To continue to allow dancers to develop their choreographic voices, Fushille launched Smuin’s Choreography Showcase in 2008, a program that allowed the dancers to spread their choreographic wings in a safe and supportive environment, creating works for their fellow dancers. The pieces are then premiered in a low pressure setting full of fun, enjoyed by Smuin followers, deliberately set apart by Fushille from mainstage commercial concerns or the onus of critical reviews. This warm approach has generated several beautiful works that have eventually premiered on Smuin’s mainstage to great acclaim.

    While it is not unusual for leading choreographers to begin their careers as dancers, it can be difficult to find time to develop that skill between regular rehearsals and performances. Smuin has now become a beacon for evolving dancers into dancemakers with Fushille cultivating the next generation of strong choreographers—especially women, who are surprisingly under-represented as dancemakers on ballet’s main stages.

    “If only Michael could see these two dancers,” said Fushille. “They are quintessential Smuin performers, excellent technicians, versatile, sharp, and full of passion about creating their own work. I can’t wait to share their thrilling and unique voices with audiences this spring!”

    Dance Series 2 will also feature Amy Seiwert’s timeless Renaissance, a flowing ballet inspired by the 2019 “Women’s Wall” protest in India, and Val Caniparoli’s playful Confessions, a nine-part dance set to contemporary classical baroque.

    Smuin’sDance Series 2

    April 29–May 7
    The Blue Shield of California Theater at YBCA
    700 Howard St, San Francisco
    For tickets and information phone 415-912-1899 or visit https://www.smuinballet.org/

    Published on April 21, 2022