If the ‘80s are back via hipsters in hot pink Ray Bans, then Smuin Ballet is as hip as ever. This spring, the company performs Momentum, an iconic blend of classical and modern ballet that defined the ‘80s dance scene and propelled the late choreographer Choo-San Goh into the international spotlight. In addition, Michael Smuin’s tribute to the Beatles (originally created in 1984) remains a fun blend of acrobatics and color, set to music you may recognize.
Known for visionary choreography, ground-breaking collaborations, and gorgeously articulated movement, Alonzo King’s Lines is always a must-see, whether you’re a ballet fan or just like awesome things. People who like awesome things, take note.
If you're more prone to appreciating charming scenes of glowing Christmas trees ascending to great heights or small children humming along with the symphony than the friend who told me, "I don't need ballet tickets to crack nuts," check out San Francisco Ballet's Nutcracker. (He would've been charmed too, he was just jealous he was missing out on the prancing sparkle ponies.) (Note: Clara's sleigh is towed by prancing sparkle ponies.)
Dust and Light is a graceful, floaty ballet, set to baroque Corelli (not of the mandolin, though one could be forgiven for that assumption) blended with ethereal choral music. It's a luminous intro to the duskier Scheherazade, Alonzo King's recent masterpiece.
Inspired by the ancient Persian and Arabic tales of 1,001 Nights, Scheherazade mixes King’s elegant choreography, costumes more couture than leotard, an exotic hybrid of Middle Eastern and Western instruments, and sex. Athletic, balletic, classy, only-really-hinted-at sex. (This is Yerba Buena Center, after all.) (We should all be so graceful, well-dressed, and well-lit in flagrante delicto.)
Don't hate them because they tour Europe and have muscles that might be more believable on a mid-level Greek god than on a human. They're still just people - very strong, preternaturally graceful people. Curving and undulating in an otherwordly sort of way, the dancers don't just mark the technique, they've mastered the level of soul and personality that Alonzo King cultivates in his company.
Sitting in a darkened theater with hundreds of people waiting for a show to start can be a very life-affirming experience (as opposed to the soul-deadening moment when you realize your garlic bagel is less chewy than expected) - and never more so than when the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra plays the opening salvo of Tchaikovsky's famed holiday score. But this is no ordinary, ever-so-slightly saccharine rendition of The Nutcracker. Mark Morris' update is replete with dazzling color, gender creative casting, and unmatched physical comedy.