This Christmas as you go a wassailing, Smuin Ballet in it’s 21st season and choreographer Amy Seiwert with her world premiere of ‘Home for the Holidays’ perform ‘The Christmas Ballet’ at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts through December 27. Act II in itself is worth the price of admission as ethereal and angelic formations of classic dances giving way to flirtation, frolicking and irreverent physical humor, all effective comic relief as the holidays culminate. The set for Act II is a kick, like a bad Christmas sweater. These kids are cheerleaders for Christmas. You don’t need to know ballet to like this wholesome variety show.
The young soloists and principals rock in Act II. The young company’s use of comic props add to the fun, with childlike playfulness if not mischief. Act II means red satin, lithe legs, frolicking and flirting, sexy and fun dances. The dancers do the music justice and then some, the choreographer using recordings of an upbeat set of contemporary novelties by everybody from Harry Connick Jr. to Elvis to Willie Nelson and Zee Avi. Artistic Director Celia Fushille packs Act II with exuberant, energetic crowd pleasers and the musical choices alone will energize and make you laugh. The goofiest thing is the trio of males dressed appropriately in ‘Droopy Little Christmas Tree’, a song one might hear on Dr. Demento’s radio show, by Benny Martin. Wait for it, wait for it . . .
Each number feels like a gift, besides seeing the world premiere of ‘Home for the Holidays’, about things suddenly looking up for a lonely guy who seems as happy as Gene Kelly with his surprising yet festive reception. Another happy surprise for a lonely heart, ‘Please Come Home’ is the funny Valentine of Christmas and could be universal. Terez Dean performed as the soloist for the matinee this past and glorious Saturday, the last weekend before Christmas with San Francisco full of families and the aroma of warm cookies. Terez Dean captures all the awkwardness and heartsickness of being alone at the Christmas dance after waiting all night for him to come home. Waiting minute after minute and feeling like a fool for believing. Waiting when everybody else is dancing with their loved one and being comically exasperated in your party dress, all dressed up with nowhere to go. If you love the Funny Valentine pas de deux from the ballet film “The Company” with Neve Campbell, you will love ‘Please Come Home’. The piece had a sense of warmth and nostalgia that charms and endears.
Menguiun Chen danced a spunky and limber solo ‘Drummer Boy’, twirling glowing batons and using them exuberantly as drumsticks. Weston Krukow from San Luis Obispo, California, performed his solo as Elvis, swaggering, strutting, posing and preening. He ends up fending off the women of the company in ‘Blue Christmas’. ‘Blue Christmas’, like ‘Please Come Home’, appeals to the older set with it’s nostalgia yet does so with a wink of romantic comedy appealing to all. Weston Krukow furthered that star presence and illusive image with his featured role as the magical ‘Frosty the Snowman’.
Giving as good as they get, the men of the company catered to every whim of soloist Susan Roemer for Saturday’s matinee of ‘Santa Baby’. Tall and leggy with long dark hair, she looked the part of a femme fatale turning up her nose at each of her many suitors pulling gifts from their trench coats or out of thin air. Again, a beguiling touch of nostalgia with the film noir touch. Roemer again plays the object of desire and male persuasion in her pas de deux later with tall and handsome Robert Moore, in ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’.
The Christmas Ballet by Smuin Ballet ends in San Francisco at the current location, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Lam Research Theater, 700 Howard Street (at Third). Tickets $24-$67. An easy walk from Montgomery or Powell Street BART. There is some street parking but with two hour limits on the parking meters, which run to six pm. even on Saturdays. There is a Peets and a couple of Starbucks nearby.