Recent Comments


    Smuin Shines Spotlight on King of Rock and Roll in Season Finale

    Photo by Chris Hardy

    Smuin Contemporary Ballet will close its 30th anniversary season with a powerful world premiere from one of today’s hottest names in choreography. Headlining the program is Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Tupelo Tornado, a new ballet inspired by the life and music of rock and roll icon Elvis Presley. Also on the bill is Smuin Associate Artistic Director Amy Seiwert’s stirring Broken Open, Smuin artist Brennan Wall’s vivid Untwine, and Michael Smuin’s dreamy Starshadows.

    Featuring a thrilling mix of classical ballet and contemporary works, Dance Series 2 will take place May 3–12 at the Blue Shield of California Theater at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco (700 Howard Street) followed by runs in Mountain View, Walnut Creek, and Carmel.

    Tupelo Tornado is Lopez Ochoa’s first creation specifically for Smuin. Set to a sound montage of tunes and interview soundbites, this new ballet takes an almost cinematic approach, delving into the cultural phenomenon that was Elvis, including the international hysteria he inspired among fans, as well as the demons he battled personally. Lopez Ochoa’s profile has continued to skyrocket since Smuin introduced Bay Area audiences to the Colombian-Belgian dancemaker in 2017 with the West Coast Premiere of her critically acclaimed Requiem for a Rose, called “intriguing [and] brilliant” by The San Francisco Chronicle. A globally renowned choreographer, Lopez Ochoa has choreographed works for more than 40 dance companies around the world including Dutch National Ballet, Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève, The Royal Ballet of Flanders, Ballet National de Marseille, Ballet Hispánico, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Ballet Nacional de Cuba, and New York City Ballet, among others.

    Photo by Chris Hardy

    Seiwert’s transfixing Broken Open—which The San Francisco Chronicle called, “Fascinating. Fresh, challenging, and relevant. Endlessly inventive”—follows its world premiere with Smuin in fall 2015. Seiwert drew inspiration for Broken Open from the Kunsthaus Tacheles in East Berlin, a building where artists sought shelter after the Berlin Wall came down. A place with a grim history, it became a vibrant hub for beauty and expression, representing the idea of “something beautiful born from a scar.” Clad in graffiti stenciled costumes, Smuin dancers will bring to life this emotionally stirring work that will capture the power of art to transform and heal.

    Seiwert was named one of “25 to Watch” by Dance magazine, and her signature choreography has been met with consistent acclaim, described by The San Francisco Chronicle as “keeping founder Michael Smuin’s legacy of unabashed showmanship alive.” Broken Open is set to a hypnotic score by world-renowned cellist and composer Julia Kent, who creates music using looped cello, found sounds, and electronics. Kent will perform live during Broken Open at the opening weekend performances of Dance Series 2 in San Francisco.

    Photo by Chris Hardy

    Wall’s Untwine for four couples is set to an updated version of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons reinterpreted by Max Richter. Originally presented in Smuin’s 2021 Choreography Showcase as a contemporary pas de deux, Untwine was expanded into an octet for its world premiere on the company’s mainstage in 2022. Wall’s choreography debut was praised by Critical Dance for its “myriad of inventive spins,” while The San Francisco Chronicle called it a “spiraling force of torque.”

    Finally, there will be Michael Smuin’s brief and dreamy Starshadows. One of his earliest works for the company, this evocative adagio explores the mystery and beauty of intimate relationships. Set to Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major, the dance features three couples set against an inky backdrop punctuated by stars.

    Tickets are available by calling 415-912-1899 or at

    Arts & Entertainment
    Published on April 18, 2024