Monday, September 28, 2009
Smuin Ballet 2: Fly Me to the Moon
Michael Smuin died two and a half years ago at the age of 68 while in the middle of rehearsals for his namesake San Francisco company which he started in 1994. (Click here for a nice career wrap-up by Steven Winn.)
His career had enough ups and downs for half a dozen different performers, with triumph and disasters on Broadway, in film, and choreographing for various ballet companies around the world.
His dismissal from the San Francisco Ballet was a watershed both for him and the company itself, when he was replaced by the Balanchine trained Helgi Tomasson who is still in charge.
His ballets tend to be showy and a bit vulgar, but they are also immensely theatrical and fun. His version of Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet" for the San Francisco Ballet is still the best version of the half dozen I've seen over the years, and there's even a videotape made for PBS that proves it.
Smuin knew how to tell a story in dance, which is not as common a talent as it would seem, and his musical taste was wide-ranging, from classical to pop. For the small company he formed in 1994, the taped music for dances ranges from Bach to Frank Sinatra.
It's the latter who is the subject of the third ballet in the program, "Fly Me to the Moon," which has emerged as a genuine crowd pleaser. For ticket info, click here.