Contemporary ballet

Smuin Contemporary Ballet will launch its 29th season with a world premiere and more in DANCE SERIES 1

Smuin Contemporary Ballet will kick off its 29th season with Dance Series 1 featuring a long-awaited world premiere from brilliant Cuban choreographer Osnel Delgado, whom Bay Area audiences will first experience in The Turntable. Set on the artists of the Smuin company, this vibrant debut album is inspired by life’s odd moment and is set to a hard-hitting soundtrack featuring music by Latin American artists and composers. Also on view is Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s hit Requiem for a Rose, which examines both the fleeting nature of romance and the enduring devotion of love in a heart-pounding ballet titled “Brilliant” by the San Francisco Chronicle . Finally, the music of the jazz legend Dave Brubeck will come to life in Take Five by former Society member Rex Wheeler (who recently rose to international fame as the first runner-up of the 2022 season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race”.)

Dance Series 1 will tour the Bay Area beginning with shows in Mountain View (September 16-18), San Francisco (September 23-October 2) and ending in Walnut Creek (September 7 to October 8). Tickets ($25-$99) are available by calling individual venues (see below for details) or visiting

Smuin will bring Cuban choreographer Osnel Delgado to the Bay Area with the world premiere of The Turntable, a creation inspired by the rhythm of life and how it determines which paths cross and which don’t. Delgado likens the phenomenon to a hub: “The world spins as she pauses. Static in the center of space, frozen like someone waiting for the perfect mate, sharing an upside down bolero, altered , mystical and unfinished…” The Turntable will be set to a diverse and hard-hitting soundtrack, including Miguel de Gonzalo’s version of the bittersweet bolero “En las Tinieblas” (“In the Shadow”), as well as “Tashweesh” and “El Sinaloense” by the Kronos Quartet, Cuban violinist William Roblejo’s arrangement of “Wayne’s Thang” by Kenny Garrett and pieces by Cuban composer Leo Brouwer. Smuin’s artistic director, Celia Fushille, first saw Delgado’s work during a trip to Cuba ten years ago and has since worked to bring the acclaimed choreographer to San Francisco. This premiere, originally scheduled for spring 2020, was derailed by the pandemic. Delgado’s choreography expresses the passion, cultural mix and uncertainty of life, drawing inspiration from Cuba’s rich and varied dance traditions, from the beloved Latin American ballet culture to the vibrant stage of the modern dance. He is the founder and artistic director of Malpaso Dance Company, an associate company of Joyce Theater Productions. Before founding Malpaso, he danced with Danza Contemporanea de Cuba from 2003 to 2011. The following year he met Smuin’s artistic director, Celia Fushille, who fell in love with his work and committed to presenting his work to the Bay Area public. Along with the Joyce, Malpaso commissioned original works from eminent choreographers such as Trey McIntyre-well known to Smuin, who commissioned McIntyre’s Oh, Inverted World and Be Here Now, and performed his Blue Until June, to great acclaim.

Smuin first introduced Bay Area audiences to acclaimed Colombian-Belgian dancer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa in the fall of 2017 with the West Coast premiere of Requiem for a Rose, titled “Intriguing. Brilliant. A Meditation on the nature of love”, by the San Francisco Chronicle. Set to what many consider Schubert’s most romantic string adagio, from the Quintet in C, Requiem for a Rose examines the fleeting nature of romance versus the enduring devotion of eternal love. Lopez Ochoa is an internationally renowned choreographer who choreographs contemporary dance works and adapts her style for classical ballet companies. She also designs for theatre, opera and fashion events such as the project of famous Dutch fashion designers Viktor & Rolf at the Van Gogh Museum. She has created works for more than 40 dance companies around the world, including the Dutch National Ballet, Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève, Royal Ballet of Flanders, Ballet National de Marseille, Ballet Hispánico, Pacific Northwest Ballet, the National Ballet of Cuba, New York. City Ballet and San Francisco Ballet, among others.

The music of the jazz legend Dave Brubeck will come to life in Take Five, by former Company member Rex Wheeler. This exuberant homage to the jazz icon, developed in Smuin’s choreography showcase, offers a charming and colorful set of inventive and surprising moves to match the historic standard of jazz. Born in London, Wheeler danced with the Slovak National Ballet and the Sacramento Ballet before joining Smuin as a dancer in 2015. As a choreographer, he has created work for organizations across the country, including several classical ballets and contemporaries for Smuin’s annual show, “The Christmas Ballet.” Wheeler shot to worldwide fame after appearing on Season 14 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Competing as the drag character Lady Camden, Wheeler ended the season as a fan favorite and first runner-up, and has since toured the world as a featured performer on “RuPaul’s Drag Race: Werq the World”.


For more than 25 years, Smuin has pushed the boundaries of contemporary ballet in a quintessentially American style, engaging and delighting audiences with uncommon physicality and expression. Founded in San Francisco in 1994 by Tony and Emmy award-winning choreographer Michael Smuin, the company is committed to creating works that fuse the diverse vocabularies of classical ballet and contemporary dance. Artistic director since 2007, Celia Fushill celebrates Michael Smuinwhile enriching the company’s impressive repertoire by collaborating with inventive choreographers from around the world, commissioning world premieres and bringing new contemporary choreographic voices to the Smuin stage.