Smuin’s Christmas Ballet Spreads Holiday Cheer

Feeling like you need to spark some excitement for this time of year? Smuin’s Christmas Ballet might be the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit. 

The two-hour dance extravaganza incorporates a variety of different dance forms — from Irish tap to swing to traditional ballet — danced to a toe-tapping assortment of holiday tunes. The production is a great choice for families who want to get into the spirit of the holidays and enjoy a wide-variety of dance, other than ballet.

The Christmas Ballet is in many ways a counterpoint to the traditional Nutcracker. There’s a range of music, some non-traditional pairings, but all of it’s done with a nod to the rituals we’ve come to expect around holiday performances.

The first act will inspire young dancers with a beautiful assortment of ballets, including the premiere of an energetic duet for two men set to “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.”

The costumes of the first act are a stark white for all the numbers and vary in range of emotion, from the tender “Ave Maria” to the Irish dance, The Gloucestershire Wassail. There’s enough variety and the pieces are short enough that it should hold the attention of young children.

You’ll notice a change of mood immediately after intermission. The dancers have literally let their hair down, and the white has been replaced with red. Act Two is energetic and upbeat, featuring Elvis numbers, a 42-foot long feather boa for “Santa Baby,” a dance on boogie boards and “Drummer Boy.”

If you’re a fan of Joni Mitchell, you’ll appreciate the beautiful work of Erin Yarbrough-Powell and Robert Kretz set to “River.” Just when it’s getting late, and your attention might start waning, former Smuin dancer, Shannon Hurlburt, makes a special appearance for the Irish tap number, “Bells of Dublin.” Hurlburt only returns to the company during the holidays to dance this piece, and it’s a treat.

Those who enjoy the show annually have a few new numbers to look forward to including the world premiere of “Meet Me in the City on Christmas.”

 Nothing quite beats the look of enchantment on the faces of both kids and adults when the snow confetti falls from the ceiling to the sounds of “White Christmas.”

Smuin celebrates its 25-year anniversary this year.

The Christmas Ballet will be performed December 5-9 at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts and December 13-24 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Tickets are $25-86 at or call 650-903-6000.

Amy Ettinger is the online/social media editor at Bay Area Parent.



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