Deemed 2012's Best Dance Troupe in East Bay by Diablo magazine, Diablo Ballet's 10 international dancers have enthralled audiences of all ages with live performances since 1993. During contemporary and classical ballets, the performers call upon their experience pirouetting with prestigious dance companies––including the Bavarian National Ballet, Venezuela’s Ballet de Caracas, and the Colorado Ballet––to execute precise footwork to an array of musical compositions. In its free time, Diablo Ballet exposes youngsters to the arts by switching fast-food toys with Rothko paintings and participating in the PEEK Youth Outreach Program, which brings art education to more than 5,000 elementary-school students in Contra Costa County.
Smuin has been twirling and leaping about the Bay Area for the past 15 years, though the company also tours nationally and internationally. Its spring program consists of three short contemporary ballets: Petite Mort, French Twist, and Songs of Mahler. Petite Mort was created by Czech choreographer Jirí Kylián and premiered originally at the Salzburg Festival in 1991, the second centenary of Mozart's death. The performance is set to two slow sections of Mozart's piano concertos. It features six men, six women, and six foils; and they tell a symbolic story of aggression, energy, and vulnerability. French Twist is a different affair: a comedic ballet by choreographer Ma Cong, inspired by Tom and Jerry cartoons and set to the music of French composer Hugues Le Bars. Michael Smuin's Songs of Mahler is a dramatic and classical ballet choreographed by the troupe's founder.