Smuin's 29th Annual Gala Raises $438,000
March 9, 2023—Smuin Contemporary Ballet announced yesterday that their 29th Annual Gala raised a total of $438,000 to help support the company. Held on Sunday, March 5th at The Galleria at the San Francisco Design Center, the gala's features included performances by company dancers, a live auction featuring "one-of-kind experiences," and more. The money raised will help Smuin to continue presenting classical ballet and contemporary dance into their third decade.
Guests included leaders from the arts, local community, and civic positions. Distinguished guests included Mayor London Breed, former Mayor of San Francisco Willie Brown, State Senator Scott Wiener, Assistant US Attorney and former SF Supervisor Annemarie Conroy, San Francisco Police Commissioner Debra Walker, San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, Assistant SFPD Chief David Lazar, and Smuin Board of Trustees members Trisha Mount (Vice President), Karen Kadushin (Secretary), Bob Challey, Hal Louchheim, Linda Membreño, John Schlag, Randy Soso, and Susie Stitt, as well as many fans of Smuin. Guests gathered for an opening cocktail reception, where they were greeted by Artistic Director Celia Fushille and company dancers. In addressing the guests, Fushile stated, "This is a special night. Community is so important to Smuin. It's such a joy to have all of you here together. We can't do what we do without you, and we're so grateful for your support!"
Dinner was served by McCalls, with wine donated by Napa Valley's Grgich Hills Estate.
Attendees were treated to Smuin dancers performing five short ballets, including the "Nem as Paredes Confesso" duet from Michael Smuin's Tango Palace, Linda's Ronstadt's "When You Wish Upon a Star" from Michael Smuin's Dances with Songs, and dancer-created pieces from the company's most recent Choreography Showcase, including Brennan Wall's Cry to Me, Maggie Carey's Much More Than This, and Tessa Barbour's Gotcha.
The performance was followed by a live auction hosted by auctioneer Trent August. Among other items, attendees bid on cakes baked by Smuin dancers Tessa Barbour, Brandon Alexander, and Brennan Wall, whose "Great Grandmother's Carrot Cake"set a record at $5,300. The three cakes garnered a total of $12,500 for the company. Other auctioned items included a VIP trip to the Utah Arts Festival, an opportunity to get close to the action at a Golden State Warriors game, and a special 30th Anniversary package featuring dinner with Fushille and an exclusive first look at "Break Fake Rules," an upcoming documentary short about the legacy of Michael Smuin. A special walk-on appearance in spectacular also went for $4,800, winning a private studio rehearsal and a cameo appearance on stage in Smuin's annual The Christmas Ballet.
The company also raised $205,000 in its "Fund a Need" campaign, which goes toward a wide range of expenses, including costume creation, obtaining music rights, dancer physical therapy, commissioning world-class choreographers.
Smuin dancers hosted a Bay Area young professionals party for ballet fans at the Smuin Center for Dance on Saturday, March 4th. Refreshments were provided by Media Noche and Doodlecakes Bakery and Stookey's Club Moderne. The dance playlist was curated by Smuin dancers.
Smuin's next performance is Dance Series 2, opening on April 28 to May 28 in Walnut Creek, San Francisco, and Mountain View. For more information, see smuinballet.org.