Smuin, Emmy-winning choreographer, dies


SAN FRANCISCO -- Michael Smuin, an Emmy Award-winning choreographer who served as co-artistic director of the San Francisco Ballet then founded his own dance company, died Monday. He was 68.

Smuin collapsed of an apparent heart attack during rehearsal with his company, Smuin Ballet, according to company spokesman David Perry. He was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Perry said.

"We are all deeply saddened and shocked," said Dwight Hutton, Smuin Ballet's managing director. "However, he died doing precisely what he loved to do."

The Missoula, Mont., native danced with the American Ballet Theatre and the San Francisco Ballet before beginning a second career as a choreographer at age 27. Smuin served as co-director of San Francisco Ballet from 1973 to 1985, then returned to the city nearly a decade later to found Smuin Ballet.

His ballets include "The Catharine Wheel," "Pulcinella Variations," "Romeo and Juliet, "The Christmas Ballet," "Shinju," "Zorro," "Frankie and Johnny" and "Fly Me to the Moon."

During his career in film, television and Broadway, Smuin won a pair of Emmy awards and a Tony Award for the Broadway production of "Anything Goes." His film credits include "The Cotton Club," "Rumble Fish" and "A Walk in the Clouds."

Smuin is survived by his son, Shane, and his brothers, Stephen and Douglas.

Plans for a memorial service are pending.