Dance and Music: Must-See Spring Performances

Get a dose of culture this season courtesy of SFJazz Center and Smuin Ballet.

There's no shortage of cultural opportunities in this city. Here, two of the biggest names in the local arts scene and their spring agendas.


Divergent Ballet

Smuin Ballet

This is not tutus and “Swan Lake.” Smuin Ballet culminates its 20th season with “XXcentric,” a vibrant and expressive, mischievous and elegant show that defies convention. You’ll recognize numbers by Marilyn Monroe, Michael Feinstein and Sting in an act revived from the company’s 2008 hit ballet “Dancin’ with Gershwin.” The performance also features two entirely new acts, including a piece set to Vivaldi and choreographed by Val Caniparoli of the San Francisco Ballet. Michael Smuin, the late founder of the company, yearned to “infuse ballet with the rhythm, speed and syncopation of American popular culture.” “XXcentric” opens at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on May 2 before dancing its way to Walnut Creek and Mountain View later in the month. —Nina Biagini 701 Mission St., San Francisco, 415.912.1899

And All That Jazz

SFJazz Center

On a corner straddling the performing arts district and the hip Hayes Valley neighborhood, the glass-walled architectural marvel that is the SFJazz Center blends seamlessly into the streetscape—passersby can observe parts of the stage, the cafe (from celebrated Slanted Door chef Charles Phan), the lobby murals and the rehearsal spaces. This month brings three big showsThe Bad PlusHerbie Hancock and Marc Ribot. Any one of the 700 custom seats in the 35,000-square-foot structure is a great one, thanks to a steep, 360-degree layout and built-in cup holders that accommodate libations from one of the three bars. In all of its slick elegance, the venue still manages to emulate the traditional jazz clubs that heated up Fillmore Street more than half a century ago. —Rachel Ward 201 Franklin St., San Francisco, 866.920.5299