Sinatra and Ballet – Really

If I say ballet, would you say Sinatra? Probably not. January in San Francisco is ballet gala month. On January 26, San Francisco’s Smuin Ballet company will host a gala fund-a-need party with a 1960s theme. Organizers named the party “Fly Me to the Moon” after Frank Sinatra’s version of that song. Guests are encouraged to dress “Rat Pack style.”

The Rat Pack was the name journalists gave to Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford. The guys preferred to call themselves “the summit” or “the clan.” In the 1960s, these performers were world famous and their partnership was reinforced by the 1960 film “Ocean’s Eleven.” You may know that they performed together in Las Vegas. You may not know that there is one surviving film clip of a benefit performance in 1965 that captures three principal members of the group with a substitute.

Here is the black and white clip when Johnny Carson joined them because Joey Bishop had a back injury. And this performance is with the Count Basie and Quincy Jones bands, the band and arranger for Sinatra’s famous rendition of “Fly Me to the Moon.”

Choreographer Michael Smuin was recruited to join the San Francisco Ballet company in 1953 at the age of 15. He was a principal dancer with the company from 1953 to 1961. He earned his high school diploma from the City’s Galileo High School. After moving to New York for work, he returned to the SF Ballet company in 1973 as co-artistic director. His contract was not renewed in 1985 due to artistic differences.

Smuin’s choreography went way beyond traditional ballet performances. He set dances to music by Frank Sinatra, George Gershwin, and the Beatles. He created his alternative ballet company in the City in 1994, and died suddenly of a heart attack teaching a ballet class in 2007. The company continues to perform at venues around the bay.
Here is the January 26 Smuin gala info:

And our San Francisco Ballet is the oldest professional ballet company in America, founded in 1933 as the San Francisco Opera Ballet to train dancers to appear in opera productions. Here is the January 24 gala info:

Best wishes,