Celia Fushille to Step Down as Smuin Artistic Director, Amy Seiwert to Assume the Role


July 26, 2023—Smuin Contemporary Ballet has announced that Artistic Director Celia Fushille will be leaving the position at the end of next season, the company's 30th as well as Fushille's 30th year with the company. Taking her place will be Amy Seiwert, formerly of Amy Seiwert's Imagery, who is due to start as Smuin's new Associate Artistic Director on August 1st (see BayDance interview). The transition is planned to take place at the end of the season in June 2024.

Celia Fushille (left) and Amy Seiwert. Photo by Chris Hardy
Celia Fushille (left) and Amy Seiwert. Photo by Chris Hardy

Initially a principal dancer since the company was formed in 1993, Fushille has filled her current role since the death of company founder Michael Smuin in 2007. Fushille will continue with the Smuin company as a trustee of the Board, and she plans to stage Michael Smuin's ballets on other companies. "I enjoyed so many satisfying moments on the stage during my performing career, but equally thrilling was being in the studio by Michael's side and helping to bring his work to life," said Fushille. "I hope to keep his legacy alive by sharing his works with ballet companies around the globe."

Known for their upbeat and physically expressive style of contemporary dance, Smuin's regular season features performances such as Dance Series 1 and Dance Series 2, and the popular and eclectic The Christmas Ballet, which demonstrates the company's talent and humor. Comprised of sixteen dancers, Smuin distinguishes itself in the Bay Area by offering the same performances in three locales, usually San Francisco, Walnut Creek, and Mountain View, thereby reaching a much wider and loyal audience than most small companies.

Fushille graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Saint Mary's College of California. In her 25-year career as a dancer she performed widely in the U.S. and Europe, on stage, television, and film. Fushille's achievements at Smuin include commissioning 18 world premieres by renowned choreographers, increasing the company's stability and place in the arts community of San Francisco, and, in 2019, accomplishing the long-term goal of moving the company into its new studios, the Smuin Center for Dance on 17th Street in San Francisco. Fushille has also been part of the national discussion among leaders of U.S. dance companies addressing diversity, equity and inclusion. A long-time friend and colleague of Fushille, Amy Seiwert danced with Smuin for 19 years and choreographed numerous works for Smuin. She also danced with the Los Angeles Chamber Ballet, and was Artistic Director of Sacramento Ballet. Her first eight years dancing with Smuin Contemporary Ballet were under the leadership of Michael Smuin, who encouraged her to develop her own choreography. In a recent interview with BayDance.com, Seiwert said she is "very steeped in" Smuin culture. As for her plans for Smuin, she stated, "I think I'm brought in to maybe push the envelope a little bit in other directions, but also because I understand where it's coming from, and I am never going to take it down an entirely new road."

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