South Bay audiences should jump at the chance to see Smuin Ballet’s dynamic final program of the season, “Dance Series 2: PS Forever Smuin,” this week in Mountain View.
The show debuted in San Francisco last month and comes to the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts for five performances Thursday through Sunday.
The show has something for everyone, from classical ballet fans to those who have never sought out professional dancing.
The program begins with Tessa Barbour’s “Vignettes”, a neoclassical ballet featuring three couples, the women dancing en pointe. The decorless, plotless ballet nods to the mid-century works of George Balanchine, down to the use of music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and minimalist costumes. Longtime Smuin dancer Terez Dean Orr shines in work that relies heavily on his dancers’ solid classical technique, seemingly effortlessly delivering the perfect balance of strength and grace.
The program’s energy ramps up with Brennan Wall’s “Untwine,” led by Cassidy Isaacson and Brandon Alexander in a dark, brooding pas de deux supported by three other couples. Isaacson doesn’t hold back at all as she fearlessly travels across the stage and flies down to the floor – much bolder than you’d expect from a point piece. Alexander supports Isaacson’s daring movement, but his talent is not lost in the pas de deux as can sometimes happen to men in male/female pairs. Alexander exhibits measured composure in both duet and solo work, and he exudes a kind of soft masculinity in his soloing that is not often portrayed on stage or in the media.
Val Caniparoli’s vivacious “Confessions” has changed titles since its premiere as “If I Were a Sushi Roll” in 2018, a wise choice that draws attention to the play’s larger themes, namely longing, regret and hope in the digital age rather than its very apparent quirks. . With Jane Fonda’s cartoonish cutouts and fish alongside quirky truisms projected onto the backdrop used as the play’s main set design, “Confessions” borders on silly at times. However, the way each dancer creates depth in their character keeps them from leaning too far into eccentricity.
Divided into nine parts, “Confessions” uses almost all of the company’s dancers in its cast. The opening number demonstrates Smuin’s power as a small, rankless dance company. Unlike big dance companies that keep dancers as trusted body members, Smuin seems to value his dancers as individual artists, which makes him incredibly powerful when they all share the stage.
Amy Seiwert’s “Renaissance” serves as the show’s mature and empowering climax. Again utilizing almost the entire cast of dancers, “Renaissance” is timeless and locationless, not so much in that it seems otherworldly, but rather that it could take place anywhere on Earth in several different moments in time. The result is a piece that feels distinctly human and ultimately hopeful about the human condition.
Shows are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. The Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts is located at 500 Castro St.
Tickets cost between $25 and $79. The show will also be offered as an on-demand streaming option starting in late May and running for several weeks.
For tickets and more information, call (650) 903-6000 or visit smuinballet.org.