The legacy of the brilliant Michael Smuin lives on with his ballet company bringing its original and courageous style of choreography to the Palace of Fine Arts this month.
The bill includes Trey McIntyre’s acclaimed work, Oh, Inverted World, the West Coast premier of Cold Virtues, staged by choreographer Adam Hougland, and three works by Michael Smuin, who died suddenly in 2007. His death rocked the ballet company, but it managed to recover and carry on with great success. The Smuin will perform his Starshadows, No Viviré and Homeless.
The Smuin debuted Oh, Inverted World with its rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack in San Francisco two years ago. It was a smash hit in New York, too, where the New York Times proclaimed it “irresistible … and the Smuin dancers are at their best here.”
They’re not so bad here, either.
Hougland’s Cold Virtues, set to Philip Glass’s Violin Concerto, is described by the Louisville Courier-Journal as “beautifully bleak, honest in unflinching fashion.” Who could resist “beautifully bleak”?
Smuin’s Starshadows is less severe, romantic even, set to Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major. No Viviré is wild and unfettered, punctuated by Latin rhythms. Homeless is not as bleak as it sounds. There’s a sweetness to Smuin’s work, as there was to his life, according to those who worked with him and loved him.
Smuin Ballet: Palace of Fine Arts Theater, 3301 Lyon Street (near Bay), tickets $25–$65, subscriptions $120–$168, 415-912-1899, www.smuinballet.org
— B. Bellingham