I lost it at the ballet

So OK, I stole the title from A Chorus Line.  It’s still true–every time we see the Smuin Ballet, I lose it.  Today was no exception.

Usually, we go to the Lesher Center, but once a year we trek to the peninsula to join up with family from the Santa Cruz area.  Today was the day.

For 17 years, the Smuin has performed at the Mountain View Center, but this year they got bumped off their dates by a local theater group, and had to perform in San Mateo at some dinky performing arts center attached to a grammar school.  The facility was adequate, barely, but had little in the  way of amenities–no bar for intermission, insufficient bathrooms, inadequate infrastructure for the performance.  Still, the show must go on.

The first act was Momentum,  choreographed in 1978 by Choo San Goh to a piano concerto by Prokofiev.  This was the most “balletic” piece of the afternoon, rich and fully capturing my attention and imagination.  The unitard costumes were perfect, the lighting sculpted the dancers precisely.

The first act is followed by the first intermission, and the first glitch.  Some technical problem arose with the intercom system, and the intermission stretched on considerably longer than the first act had.  The natives were getting quite restless before Ballet Master Amy London came onstage to tell us what the problem was, apologize for the delay and promise that the show would soon go on.

Amy London, Smuin Ballet Ballet Master.


Problems can happen in any business–the better way to handle them is to keep the customer in the loop early and often–an announcement 10 minutes earlier that there were technical problems would have kept the natives much quieter and happier.

On to the second act, Mozart Requiem, a new work by Choreographer in Residence, Amy Seiwert.  Because I like the Smuin, and I have enjoyed the work of Amy Seiwert before, I wanted to like this piece, but it just didn’t grab me.  You would think something set to a Mozart Requiem would be emotionally affecting, but there was just…………….nothing.  I felt nothing.  (Oops, there A Chorus Line sneaking in again.)  Gail felt the piece went on too long, with no conclusion, and I could not disagree.  Beautiful costumes, interesting set, great lighting, excellent dancers, just no ooooomph.

The final act, To the Beatles, choreographed by company founder Michael Smuin, is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.  Music we all know and love, wonderful dancers and witty choreography.  It’s like a fine meal–take all the best ingredients and have an expert chef mix them and you have to have success.

The extra good news is that they have worked out their problems in Mountain View and will be back there next spring.  I’ll be there.

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