Monday, September 28, 2009
Smuin Ballet 1: Medea
On a blazingly hot Sunday, at a second-floor dance studio on Otis Street just a few blocks away from the annual Folsom Street Fair, the Smuin Ballet company held one of their final rehearsals for their upcoming Fall/Winter program which opens this Friday at the Palace of Fine Arts.
The company had invited online journalists to watch the rehearsal and take pictures if they were so inclined, and it was a fascinating, intimate affair with the dancers just about twirling into our laps. First up was choreographer Amy Seiwert's world premiere dance to four selections from the 1992 Kronos Quartet recording "Pieces of Africa" with music by Obo Addy, Justinian Tamusuza, Foday Musa Suso, and Dumisani Maraire. The music is so compellingly danceable I was half tempted to join in.
Next on the program is Michael Smuin's "Medea" which the late choreographer created for the San Francisco Ballet when he was co-director of that company from 1973-1985.
The music is by Samuel Barber, written for Martha Graham in 1946, and Smuin's choreography still packs a punch.
The company's director, Celia Fushille, explained that the ballet was the story of a happy family, Medea and Jason and their two sons, "until the Princess shows up and all hell breaks loose."
Medea and the boys murder the princess in an amazing sequence...
...which doesn't make the two-timing Jason very happy...
...and then Medea kills their two sons.
Robert Sund and Celia Fushille above danced the roles of Jason and Medea earlier in their careers, and it was fascinating watching them recreate certain movements that were not quite right in the rehearsal.