Produced by: Smuin Ballet
Featuring: Nicole Haskins, Max van der Sterre, Maggie Carey, Robert Kretz, Tessa Barbour, Ian Buchanan, Tess Lane, Mengjun Chen, Valerie Harmon, Jonah Corrall, Terez Dean Orr, Ben Needham-Wood, Erica Felsch, Peter Kurta, Lauren Pschirrer, Alysia Chang, Mattia Pallozzi, Benjamin Warner, Erin Yarbrough-Powell
Running time: 120 minutes, two intermission
When: 7:30 p.m. February 21, 22, 23; 2 p.m. February 23, 24, 2019
Where: Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro Street, Mountain View
Tickets: $58-$75; xLL 650-903-6000 or visit www.smuinballet.org
is fabulous in Smuin debut
As I type this, it's already 7:20 p.m. on Saturday night, which means if you aren't already at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, you are going to miss tonight's performance of Smuin Ballet Series 01.
So, go to the Sunday matinee, for the last performance of this particular collection of ballets curated by Smuin Artistic Director Celia Fushille, because it is a magnificent program.
Barring that, then get thee to email and snail mail and send Ms. Fushille many, many loving letters, begging her to program Trey McIntire’s “Blue Until June” again as soon as she possibly can.
It’s not listed for Series 02, which happens April, May and June, but maybe she could sneak it into the annual gala, which happens in March.
Or maybe it have to wait till another season. Whenever. I will be there if I possibly can, because it is a fabulous ballet that finds many ways to express in dance to the great music of Etta James.
It makes for a gorgeous time in the theater: The powerful sound system piping Etta James’ magnificent, rich contralto into our ears, while the Smuin dancers — masters both of classical and modern forms — interpret the songs in powerful movement.
Etta James’ music often had to do with love and sex, and guess what? The beautiful women and men of Smuin really know how to put that on stage.
“Blue Until June” starts with all red lighting, with Nicole Haskins fighting with herself to deal with her emotions as Etta James sings “You Can’t Talk to a Fool.”
“My Dearest Darling” features Erica Felsch and Robert Kretz stretching and falling to sides as they reach for each other in a beautiful ballad.
There are several more beautifully danced performances to Etta James music, then the one that absolutely put me in tears: “I’d Rather Go Blind.”
The song, of course, is a blues classic. “Something told me it was over, when I saw you and her talking.” It was written by Etta James, Ellington Jordan and Billy Foster. Some web sites credit it to Beyoncé, which is errant nonsense.
Anybody who has felt the blues feels this song in their hearts — but what had me sobbing in my seat at the MVCPA was when the music stopped — and Nicole Haskins kept dancing, desperately, in the silent auditorium. She stomped, she searched, she silently begged to find her lover.
Wow. It was amazing.
Closing “Blue Until June” was “At Last,” which is a romantic classic.
Fabulous, fabulous show.
“Blue Until June” was the closing section, but before that there was plenty of other great dance. But I want to get this posted as soon as I can, so won’t go into it all — other than to say I loved “Echo,” choreographed by Smuin dancer Ben Needham-Wood. Lighting design by Michael Oesch starts very dark, showing Peter Kurta as Narcissus on a table, in white, admiring his reflection.
Along comes Tess Lane as Echo, also in white, and she attempts to full him out of his revery. Five dancers spin the two of them on the table top. Echo evolves into her own dance, then comes back to the table and stares into the pond, caught by her own self admiration.
It is all beautifully done.
I also loved “The Eternal Idol,” choreography by company found Michael Smuin, that opens out of the dark to Valerie Harmon and Max van der Sterre as the couple in Rodin’s “The Kiss.” Shown in mottled light, they dance with sex and passion, but eventually return to stone. Fabulous.