SAN FRANCISCO, California – The Excecutive and Artistic Director of SMUIN BAILLET, Celia (pronounced phonetically in the Spanish language) Fushille, (Above center) appears to have been led to the world of dance by the hand of fate.
In an exclusive interview she tells us that with her sister, she was enrolled by their mother in ballet class at the age of four in el Paso, Texas, where she was born. “Being very shy I did not participated in the class" she says, "I just went to the room and sat in a corner.” When her sister quit the class, Calia was pulled out.
Four years later, for a reason she still does not know, she asked her mother to send her back to ballet class. “after that, I was always a diligent student who wanted to do the technique exactly right.” She adds.
She received her early dance training with Ingeborg Heuser, a former dancer from the Berlin Opera Ballet. Being a good dancer, Celia was given the opportunity to perform many times during the year dancing in the Spring and during the Fall in ballets and in recitals. It is not surprising that at the age of 13, she received a full scholarship to study dancing in San Francisco, California with the S.F. Ballet School.
“So every Summer I came to San Francisco and when I left, they always asked me to return.” She says “I graduated early from High School, and moved to San Francisco in 1980.
When Smuin hired her, Celia became a dancer of the S.F. Ballet. Many years later, she also became a founder of SMUIN BALLET
CW: How did that happened?
Celia: “I have a long history with Michael because, as I said before, I danced with him at the San Francisco Ballet, where I met him when I was 17 years old. He already knew me and he knew my dancing. So on November of l993, when Michael started his company, he asked me to work with him, both as a dancer and as his assistant.
CW: What attracted you to Michael’s style of dancing?
Celia: It was a “A little serendipity.” “When I was living in El Paso, the San Francisco Ballet used to tour there and the school directors, who travelled with the company, held auditions wherever the company was performing. That’s how I was introduced to Michael’s work which was really a lucky event.”
CW: As the Excecutive and Artistic Director of SMUIN BALLET what are your plans for the ballet?
Celia: “I feel that it has been a huge learning process for me. (She became the Artistic Director of SMUIN BALLET after Michael’s passing on April 23, 2007) I certainly have worked so close to Michael that I was prepared to undertake the Artistic Director role, but a few years ago the board asked me to become Excecutive Director. I think I have now grown into the role and I am more comfortable with both facets of my job but some times the administrative work and the work that I do at the studio with the dancers gets incredibly hectic. At times is very difficult trying to juggle both, but I have a fantastic staff working with me so it is really a team effort. In terms of my vision for the company, I would like to be able to maintain Michael’s legacy and present his works, but also bring new works of world’s renown choreographers and also the work of upcoming coreographers as well.
CW: What is your new Season going to offer us?
Celia: We have a fabulous program, really exciting. The program opens with “Tango Palace” a work that Michael created in 2003 and just as Michael did, when he was creating it, I brought in a regular Tango teacher, so the dancers could learn to dance properly the Argentine Tango.
The picture on the left shows dancers Jonathan Dummar and Robin Cornwell in Smuin’s ballet “TANGO PALACE” Picture by: David DeSilva
Celia: Learning the Tango was a very intensive process because I wanted to be sure that it really captured the nuance of Argentine Tango, because the first part is really Tango. The work is a mixture of Fado, with Amalia Rodriguez is singing a Fado, and it closes with a piece by Edith Piaf. There is a mix of music in it, but it starts with the traditional tango, It also has traditional Tango costumes: beautiful dresses for the ladies and elegant suits and fedoras for the men. It is very in keeping with the style of the Argentine’s dance. In the second half, the ladies change to short dresses and the music is danced on point. It has a dream quality.
Celia: The Next ballet we have is Michael’s “Stabat Mater.”
Celia: The work is Michael’s response to 9/11. and it is a beautiful ballet about lost but also about hope. The work teaches us hat we have to cope together as a community and move forward after any tragedy and any lost, because there is hope in the future and hope in moving forward if one looks for the reasons and has the strength to continue.
For the ballet Michael used Dvorak’s (Czech composer of late Romantic music Antonín Leopoldo Dvorak l841-l904) Stabat Mater, work. The name of the piece means “Sorrow for mother” and the music is supposed to reflect the sorrow of the Virgin Mary for Her son. The Ballet itself is not about the Virgin Mary. It is about a couple where the male dies. While choreographing it, Michael was thinking about all these people that lost a brother or a husband during 9/ll. The other couples, in the dance are supporting the lead woman. In the ballet, At the end of the ballet, even when her lover appears to her, he needs to leave. It is a beautiful ballet and one the dancers always enjoy performing it.
Celia: Then we have this beautiful “Pax de deux” that Michael called “The Eternal Idol.” He created the work in l969 for a ballerina at the American Ballet theater and is a beautiful piece inspired by a sculpture of the same name.The dancers wear flesh-colored body suits, and the ballet beging on a rock, in the formation of the sculpture. The music is a Chopin Piano Concerto.and When it begins, they come off the rock, dance a beautiful romantic dance and then they return to the rock. It is a beatuful image.
The picture on the left shows dancers Jonathan Dummar and Robin Cornwell in Smuin’s ballet “THE ETERNAL IDOL”
Picture by: David DeSilva
Celia: And our new ballet in the program is Amy Saiwert’s “DEAR MISS CLINE” A wonderful ballet. Amy’s choreography is very unusual, vey different, but she tied it in. It has something of a feeling of a Smuin ballet, something Michael may have done, but still very much in her style. It is a delightful ballet.
And she adds, "This program really showcases what SMUIN (Ballet) is about, because of the variety of the dances in the program. There is something for every one, it is visually beautiful to look at and the most wonderful thing is that as even when SMUIN as a ballet, is a serious ballet, we (the dancers) do not take ourselves too seriously. We like to enjoy ourselves, and this program, certainly shows that."
SMUIN BALLET will be presented in Walnut Creek, Carmel and Mountain View from February 3 to February 26
For tickets and further information go to smuinballet.org.