Smuin 30

Smuin 30
Feb. 29, 2024 7:30. pm
Yerba Buena Center
San Francisco,CA

Ballet as ‘show-biz

Michael Smuin was founder of his company and director for thirteen years. Now the company is still going strong after 30 years, says Celia Fuschille, current artistic director. Smuin emphasized ‘entertainment, “to mix the popular with the classical.” Celebrating the company’s 30th years, this event, “Celebration Smuin” accomplishes that..providing a ‘story’ ballet (Zorro!), and another work set to songs by Sinatra. (“Fly me to the Moon.”)

Zorro! (world premiere) goes on for eleven scenes during which we watch the emergence of a young (movie) usher, Emilio, who is bullied by his boss, and eventually emerges as a brave swordsman and lover with the help of the famous Zorro! The name of the film playing at the theater is Zorro!, so that no less than three Zerro’s help Emilio learn bravery and swordsmanship. All this is accomplished with the assistance of the movie audience the ballerinas who participate in the chorus. Lively and charming as it is, it does go on too long and has many complex (but exciting) incidents to follow. The choreography as all this and ‘classical’ ballet steps and patterns.. I believe that Marc Lapierre played Emilio: he and all the Zorros displayed amazing skill and drama.

Fly Me To The Moon” to well-known Sinatra songs is easier to follow since each is a unique event, for solos, duets and the group. The movement vocabulary entails mime, ’show-biz’ wiggles and even a short foray into tap dancing. The dancers are all very accomplished…and (but) the ‘classical’ ballet technique is sometimes awkward as the vocabulary for this entertainment. As the program notes indicate, this was Smuin’s intention: to make classical ballet ‘entertainment’. The performers are all ‘top-notch’ and/but this reviewer longed to free them from toe shoes and the formality that classical ballet demands, to let them sing and dance and really bring us ‘show-biz’.