Category Archive for: ‘Richard Connema’



The internationally renowned dance company Smuin Ballet is presenting their annual spring dance series under the title of <i>Spring Bouquet</i>.  This season the company is presenting the West Coast premiere of Helen Pickett’s energetic “Petal” which had its New York premiere in 2009.  Also on the program is Michael Smuin’s “Chants d’Auvergne” that had its premiere here in 1999.  Rounding out this eclectic program is  Darrell Grand Moultrie’s  jazzy “Jazzin”  to the music of Duke Ellington and Wynton Marsallis.


The evening program starts with the exquisite dancers beautifully performing a string of love duets to Michael Smuin’s “Chants d’Auvergne”. This is lushly orchestrated to the voices of Kiri Te Kanawa and Victoria de los Angeles.  The ballet has no story but follows the daily life of the young people in a French village and the charm of their idealized, pastoral lives.  There are playful flirtations, serious romance feelings and animated lovers’ jealousies. Robin Semmelhack, Jonathan Dummar, Erin Yarbough, Jonathan Powell, Jane Rehm, Matthew Linzer, Janica Smith, Aidan De Young, Terez Dean and Jonathan Mangosing, Christian Squires and John Speed Orr are outstanding in their movements.


Helen Pickett’s “Petal” is an exciting ballet with energy driven dancers to a relentless score by Philip Glass and Thomas Newman. Sixteen dancers throw themselves into the disparate works with admirable verve.  Whirlpools of social groupings swirl within a stage constrained by large white screens and bathed by Todd Elmer’s gorgeously lush lighting design of wonderful yellows, pinks and orange. A sense of restless female desire pervades the choreography which sets intimate duets and solos within more formal group patterns.


The third and final ballet of the evening was the swinging “Jazzin” which was premiered by the Sacramento Ballet Company last year.  The vivacious ballet work feels very “Smuin-esque” since the late Michael Smuin had an affinity for jazz music and a lot more of showmanship and entertainment factors.  The dancers sway to the music of Wynton Marsalis, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn and Andy Razf.


Outstanding was the complete cast sensually strutting across the stage in “The Strut” followed by Erica Feisch wowing the audience in “Spring In My Step” to a recording of the Boston “Pop” Orchestra playing Duke Ellington’s “Satin Doll”. Jane Rehm has great sensory movements in “Takin No Mess’ dancing to “If I Can’t Sell It, I’ll Keep Sittin It” from Alexander Hill and Andy Razaf Broadway recording of <i>Black and Blue</i>.


Erin Yarbrough, Janica Smith, Jonathan Powell and Christian Squires have special charm grooving to Irving Mills and Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing”.  Joshua Reynolds beautifully danced to Duke Ellington’s “Solitude” and the whole cast ended on a vibrant note dancing to Wynton Marsalis “All Rise”


Smuin Ballet <i>Spring Bouguet</i> played through May 19th at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.  On May 22 through May 26 they will be at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts for tickets call 650-903-6000.  The company will be performing this spring dance series in Walnut Creek at the Lesher Center for the Arts on May 31 and June 1. For tickets call  925-943-7469.  Smuin Ballet will perform this series in Carmel on June 7 and 8th.  For tickets call 831-620-2048.


Page 4 of 4«1234