Stepping Out

A ‘Renaissance’ is underway

Chris Hardy/Special to the Town Crier
Smuin dancers Terez Dean Orr and Ben Needham-Wood perform Amy Seiwert’s “Renaissance,” offered for free streaming as part of Smuin’s Hump Day Ballets series through Friday.

Town Crier Report

Amy Seiwert’s “Renaissance” is the next installment of Smuin Contemporary Ballet’s Hump Day Ballets series, which each week offers free video streaming of a performance from the company’s archives.

Departing Smuin after 10 years as its choreographer in residence to lead Sacramento Ballet, master dancemaker Seiwert returned in April 2019 to help celebrate Smuin’s 25th anniversary season by unveiling “Renaissance.”

A world premiere set to the music of Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble, “Renaissance” was inspired by a 385-mile protest wall formed by women in India on New Year’s Day 2019. Millions of women joined hands to form the wall in Kerala to create awareness of gender equality and to object to a religious ban that prevented women of childbearing age from entering one of the country’s sacred Hindu temples. Across the street, many of the men in their lives stood with them in solidarity.

“They stood with them, but not side by side,” Seiwert said. “I loved that show of support – that you can stand by without interfering in something that’s not yours.”

She added that “Renaissance” is intended to reflect this fight for equality which, from Seiwert’s perspective, is a communal one. The dancers take turns supporting each other – women lifting women, men sometimes observing and sometimes helping.

“What I have enjoyed exploring the most (with this work) is the strength and the joy of the community,” Seiwert said of her experience. “It’s that community aspect of ‘we’re creating this together.’ What I hope people walk away from it with is that sense of community and a sense of joy.”

“Renaissance” will be streamed today through Friday, accompanied by a video introduction by current Smuin dancers Terez Dean Orr, Tessa Barbour and Peter Kurta. Streaming instructions are available through Smuin’s email list (sign up at, or via Smuin’s Facebook ( and Instagram (

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