BY LUCIA CHUNG
Smuin Ballet‘s Christmas program truly has a little something for everyone. The performance is divided into two acts: “The Classical Christmas” and “The Cool Christmas,” both of which incorporate holiday themes from around the world. As the names of the acts imply, the show alternates from traditional ballet to cool contemporary dance, keeping the audience on its toes. The company performed a total of 33 pieces to various types of holiday music, and the performances featured everything from traditional ballet to tap-dancing Christmas trees and Fosse-esque jazz numbers. In the end, the pieces that shined the most exhibited what the company is known for: innovation with tongue-in-cheek attitude; beauty drawn from strength and skill.
Besides using pieces from the company repertoire, this Christmas Ballet also featured two breathtaking premieres: “Patapan/God Rest Ye” choreographed by Amy Seiwert and “Oh, Holy Night” choreographed by Robert Sund (pictured above). Both pieces were intricate, delicate and serene, eliciting whispers of “beautiful” from the crowd. Other favorites were “Licht bensh’n ‘Candle Blessing'” and “Santa Baby,” which both featured Susan Roemer and the men of the company. These more theatrical pieces had the crowd in stitches.
Some of the pieces relied more on props (dare I say gimmicks), costumes or a cute/clever idea (ie “Sugar Rum Cherry” instead of “Sugar Plum Fairy”) to make an impression on the audience, and these performances were nowhere near as effective as those that didn’t rely on such tactics. The advantage of the vignette format was that these pieces were soon over, but they still gave the night a feeling of inconsistency, and didn’t help the show build towards any type of finale.
Overall, though, seeing The Christmas Ballet was a lighthearted way to celebrate the holidays, and the aforementioned gems made the event very much a success.
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