Celia Fushille – Council Chair, Artistic Directors

Celia Fushille has served as Artistic Director of Smuin Contemporary Ballet in San Francisco since 2007. She also served as Executive Director of the company from 2008-2014. Fushille leads the artistic vision of the Company increasing its reputation as San Francisco’s premiere contemporary ballet company. A founding member of Smuin Ballet and its principal dancer for over 12 years, Fushille worked closely with founder, Michael Smuin. As his muse, she originated many roles in works created on her, including Frankie & Johnny, Cyrano, and The Blue Angel where she danced the role of Lola-Lola. In a performing career spanning 25 years, Fushille appeared on stages in the US and Europe, on television and in film, including an appearance as Greeata, in Return of the Jedi: Special Edition.

Fushille led the Company through the loss of its founder and has expanded the repertoire of Smuin Ballet, adding the work of renowned choreographers and commissioning 18 premieres while maintaining Michael Smuin’s legacy. In 2008 she launched Smuin’s Choreography Showcase to encourage the next generation of choreographers, allowing the dancers of the company the opportunity to craft new works. During Fushille’s tenure Smuin Ballet completed its first capital campaign, allowing the Company to acquire a permanent home in San Francisco in 2019 and to begin offering a dynamic program of dance classes at the Smuin Center for Dance.

Fushille is one of few female artistic directors in the US currently directing a ballet company with a budget over $2.5 million. In 2010 she was invited to participate in the Glass Slipper Ceiling Symposium, a panel moderated by former New York Times dance critic Anna Kisselgoff sponsored by Richmond Ballet in Virginia as part of Minds Wide Open, a statewide arts event celebrating Virginia’s women in the arts. Since that time, she has participated in the national dialogue concerning the dearth of female arts leaders and choreographers in the US. In May 2016 Fushille was honored at the Djerassi Artists Residence in Woodside, CA for her role as a female leader in the arts. In 2018 she participated in a panel discussion at San Francisco Ballet regarding Diversity and Inclusion, which was led by Virginia Johnson of Dance Theatre of Harlem. In 2019 Fushille became chair of the Artistic Directors’ Council for Member Companies with budgets of $3 Million and greater at Dance/USA. She graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Saint Mary’s College of California.

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