Rehearsing “AVOIDANCE” with Jennifer Stahl (San Francisco Ballet, Principal). Photo by Maximillian Tortoriello Photography

Rehearsing “AVOIDANCE” with Jennifer Stahl (San Francisco Ballet, Principal). Photo by Maximillian Tortoriello Photography

We all have a story to tell…

As a choreographer, my focus is guiding emotion through movement so a story can emerge. I believe that body language can project our most expressive voice, and as dancers and choreographers our physical voices have the capacity to inspire others. Every creation is shaped not only by the choreographer’s story, but also by those of the artists embodying the vision, and the true spirit of any choreography lives in the intersection of all those artistic perspectives.


“Smuin dancer and choreographer Ben Needham-Wood goes the distance”

Andrew Gilbert, SF Chronicle, 26 Nov 2018

Smuin dancer and choreographer Ben Needham-Wood goes the distance
By Andrew Gilbert, SF Chronicle - 26 November 2018

IVY Magazine

Featured Member


Northern California Regional Emmy Awards, 2018
BaseBallet: Into the Game (NBC Sports Bay Area)
Awarded for Editing, Photography, Writing, and Best Arts/Entertainment-Program/Special

National Choreographers Initiative, 2016

Northern California Regional Emmy Award, 2015
BaseBallet (CSN Bay Area)
Awarded for Best Arts/Entertainment-Feature/Segment



“…what did impress was Needham-Wood’s choreography, especially his treatment of the hand. Throughout Echo, hands reached outward looking for answers or maybe even an escape. They dove towards the floor with fear and trembling. With aggressive intent, dancers were dragged by their hands across the stage. In other contrasting moments, the hands spoke of care and connection. The cast stood in a line and gently rested their palms on each other’s backs. They held hands in a circle, grasping one another for support. Needham-Wood took a deep dive into one choreographic element and it worked. It conveyed emotion after emotion and I found myself tracking the dancers’ hands to see what might happen next.”
--Heather Desaulniers, DanceTabs, 24 September 2018 [Full Review]

“In his ‘Echo,’ set to a piano score by Nicholas Britell, Needham-Wood explored the myth of Echo and Narcissus. The idea isn’t new (Isadora Duncan and Michel Fokine trafficked in it a century ago), but the contemporary choreography was stripped of superfluous detail, using the dancers’ bodies to drive the compelling narrative. Without telegraphing their role as water, an ensemble of blue-clad dancers drowned Kurta and Valerie Harmon, whose limbs rippled with torment.”
--Claudia Bauer, SF Chronicle, 24 September 2018 [Full Review]

“Ben Needham-Wood’s lovely “Echo” spoke with a clearly-articulated personal voice; it evoked the myth of Echo and Narcissus cogently within a sense of a dreamy reality.”
--Rita Felciano, Dance View Times, 30 September 2018 [Full Review]

--BachTrack, Jaime Robles, 24 September 2018 [Full Review]
--Bay Area Stringer, Joanna G. Harris, September 2018 [Full Review]
--The Classical Girl, Terez Rose [Full Review]


"Dancer Ben Needham-Wood’s unlikely subject for a ballet, 20th-century psychologist Abraham Maslow, whose theme of “self-actualization” persists even though it’s known by different words today, took on an intriguing shape both materially and cerebrally... The choreographer seems determined to balance skepticism with a wish to believe, and it’s a twisty path to take in the brief time allotted. The original music, by Needham-Wood’s collaborator Ben Sollee, echoes the spirit of unease... Self-actualization is tricky, as is Needham-Wood — someone to watch out for."
--Janice Berman, SF Classical Voice, 28 September 2015 [Full Review]

"In classic Smuin disregard for tradition, Maslow utilizes movements drawn from both contemporary ballet and hip-hop. Set to the music of composer and cellist Ben Sollee, Maslow is pure Smuin at it’s mind-bending best."
--Geraldine Duncann, AXS San Francisco, 27 September 2015 [Full Review]


… Mr. Needham-Wood plays with form, adding and subtracting dancers with great fluidity so that a seething stage transforms almost invisibly into more intimate variations for smaller numbers of dancers… The pas de deux are intricately conceived sequences exploring relationships, at first seeming separate but through echoed hand-play suggesting connections between these couples… Mr. Needham-Wood blends recognizably classical motifs with an exploration of non-traditional lifts, dynamic floor work and non-classical groupings...
--Kathi E. B. Ellis,, 3 February 2012


Company member Ben Needham-Wood’s powerful Apollo and Daphne was the next variation on the program. I originally saw this ballet during last fall’s Choreographers Showcase, and Erica De La O and Douglas Ruiz’s partnership in this intense and disturbing ballet has deepened over time. This piece could be in every compilation program, and audiences would find new nuances each time – I look forward to experiencing this piece many times with the powerful partnership between these two dancers.”
--Kathi E. B. Ellis,, 7 November 2011