Returning from sold-out shows and rave reviews in New York, Smuin Ballet brings the inventive, much-lauded, and uncomfortably resonant Oh, Inverted World back home. In this deft collaboration between choreographer Trey McIntyre and indie-pop darlings The Shins, the Smuin dancers conjure the flutter and flurry of youthful friendship, the physical power and influence of peers, and the glory of cresting adulthood, amid the quiet, lonely internal struggle for differentiation and self-discovery. Michael Smuin, who often choreographed for Broadway and film, would have been proud.
Scantily clad in slick athletic shorts, sports socks, and wristbands, his small, passionate, technically consummate company finds in Oh, Inverted World a perfect vehicle to carry on their late director's vision: to make the classical precision and grace of ballet fresh, accessible, and exciting. Three Smuin pieces -- Starshadows, an intimate adagio for three couples, and two solo works called Homeless and No Viviré -- are included in this program, along with the West Coast premiere of Adam Hougland's beautiful Cold Virtues. Set against a cinematic backdrop of slowly spinning ceiling fans and the bleak, penetrating score of Philip Glass' "Violin Concerto," Cold Virtues is stylistically noir but without artifice. If The Postman Always Rings Twice moved you, Hougland's emotional geometry will have you salivating.
Smuin Ballet's season opener starts Friday, Oct. 5 at 8 p.m. through Oct. 6 (also Oct. 11-14) at Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon (at Bay), S.F. Admission is $25-$65.
Here's a preview of Oh, Inverted World:
And here's a snippet of Cold Virtues: