Smuin Contemporary American Ballet opens its season with a trio of works set to classical pieces: Michael Smuin’s response to 9/11 called Stabat Mater, using Dvorak’s setting of the text; the West Coast premiere of Indigo, from choreographer Stanton Welch (Vivaldi cello concertos); and the world premiere of Madness, Rack, and Honey by Garret Ammon (Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante.) Artistic Director Celia Fushille gives a preview.
There’s more information about the performances, which open this weekend in Walnut Creek before coming to San Francisco at the Smuin website.
Celia Fushille says the company’s founder, the late Michael Smuin decided to abandon a work to music by Schubert in favor of the Dvorak after the 9/11 attacks. “He was just so devastated, as we were as a nation, and thinking about why are the arts relevant? The Stabat Mater is Latin for ‘sorrowing mother’, and thinking of the Virgin Mary, watching her suffering son on the cross. But Michael just intended it to represent all of the people that lost a loved one, whether it was a child, a son, a fiancée, a husband, a spouse. And so he was just intending it to represent all of those people that were lost.” Indigo is the first work by Stanton Welch that the company has performed. He’s the Artistic Director of Houston Ballet, and chose Vivaldi for the score. “There are whimsical moments and humorous moments,” says Fushille, “but just really solid dancing on top of that.” The unusual title of the world premiere by Garret Ammon comes from a book of poetry lectures by Mary Ruefle he encounterd at a literary retreat. “He borrowed the title, because he thought it applied to dance. We’re mad about our art form, we put ourselves on the rack to stretch, stretch our feet, and the work that it takes, and then… Like the arts, it’s sweet as honey. So he just thought this is such a perfect title.”