Smuin Contemporary Ballet launches 30th anniversary season with “Dance Series 1”

Smuin Contemporary Ballet launches 30th anniversary season with “Dance Series 1”

Celebrating three decades of bringing innovative dance to the Bay Area, Smuin will kick off its 30th season with the World Premiere of Salsa ‘Til Dawn by one of America’s most sought-after choreographers, Darrell Grand Moultrie, set to an original Cuban jazz score by Grammy, Emmy, and Golden Globe Award winning composer Charles Fox. Also on the bill is James Kudelka’s The Man in Black, a contemporary ballet danced in cowboy boots to the music of Johnny Cash. Rounding out the program is San Francisco-based, internationally acclaimed choreographer Val Caniparoli’s playful Tutto Eccetto il Lavandino (everything but the kitchen sink),set to Vivaldi. Smuin’s Dance Series 1 will wrap up their tour in San Francisco, September 29 – October 7. Tickets ($25-$89) are available by visiting

In its thrilling season opener, Smuin presents the World Premiere of Salsa ‘Til Dawn from Darrell Grand Moultrie set to a score by lauded composer Charles Fox. Moultrie’s impressive career has spanned theater, ballet, modern, and commercial dance genres, with work created for American Ballet Theatre, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and other leading companies around the world; individuals from Beyoncé to tap legend Savion Glover; and theatre productions. He returns to Smuin following the company’s performances of his work Jazzin’ in 2013. Salsa ‘Til Dawn will unite him with a fellow alum from NYC’s La Guardia Performing Arts High School: Grammy, Emmy, and Golden Globe Award winning composer Fox, who created the scores for Michael Smuin’s Zorro! and A Song for Dead Warriors. Fox has created a moving Cuban jazz score for the premiere, composed of works performed in concert in Havana and Paris. Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004, Fox has composed music for hundreds of films from “Barbarella” and “Goodbye Columbus” to “Nine to Five,” as well as television shows, theatre productions, ballets, and for music artists, winning a Song of the Year Grammy for the Roberta Flack megahit “Killing Me Softly with His Song,” among many other honors. 

Also on the program is the return of James Kudelka’s The Man in Black, an acclaimed work set to music covers by Johnny Cash choreographed for three men and one woman, danced in cowboy boots. This captivating piece is an ode to American working-class grit featuring complex choreography influenced by popular country-western dance styles including line, square, swing, and step dancing. The Man in Black utilizes six songs covered by Johnny Cash in his final years, including Trent Reznor’s “Hurt” and Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind.” Its company premiere with Smuin in fall 2019 was called “moving and powerful” by the San Francisco Chronicle. One of the world’s most versatile and innovative dance artists, Kudelka began his choreography career with The National Ballet of Canada in 1972. After a widely praised rework of The Nutcracker, Kudelka served as artistic director at The National Ballet for nine years.

Completing the program is a work created for Smuin by lauded choreographer Val Caniparoli. The playful Tutto Eccetto il Lavandino (everything but the kitchen sink) is a dynamic 11-part neoclassical work that embraces the music of Italian Baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi and celebrates the incredible athleticism and versatility of the Smuin dancers. Premiering in spring 2014 in honor of Smuin Ballet’s 20th Anniversary season, the San Francisco Chronicle praised its vigorous movement, noting the Smuin “dancers aced the balletic rigors.” Caniparoli has created a body of work that is rooted in classicism but influenced by all forms of movement: modern dance, ethnic dance, social dancing, and even ice skating.

For 30 years Smuin has pushed the boundaries of contemporary ballet within a distinctly 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 work that merges the diverse vocabularies of classical ballet and contemporary dance. Artistic Director since 2007, Celia Fushille has celebrated Michael Smuin’s legacy while 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. At the conclusion of the 2023-2024 season, Fushille will step away from her role as Artistic Director and Seiwert will continue to lead Smuin in bold and creative ways for the next decade and beyond. For more information, visit