Talking (and Dancing) BASSH — Tenth Anniversary of SB’s Dance showcase goes down this weekend

BASSH, the annual celebration of Santa Barbara’s dance community that spins across the Lobero Theatre stage this weekend can’t shake its acronym even when it tries. In years past, its letters have stood for ballroom, Argentine, salsa, swing and hip-hop. Too specific, the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance thought this year, and opened up the adjudication process to a broader selection. They dropped the Argentine Tango…but then two Aerialists took their place. You know…with a capital A…

So, BASSH remains and still stands for something. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, why mess with a good thing?

Apart from styles of dance — and BASSH throws in Broadway, jazz, tap and more into its mix — the two evenings stand as a survey of the various dance schools, choreographers and artists in town, from the Santa Barbara Dance Center and Rhythm Dance & Fitness Studios to Arthur Murray. The evening features over 100 dancers of all ages, and is emceed by SBDA’s Production Director Derrick Curtis, the brains behind the whole operation since the beginning.

“Being able to perform on the Lobero stage is a yearly highlight for probably all the groups involved,” says James Buchanan, SBDA’s Interim Executive Director. The evening promises a French Cabaret style setting, which sits well with the aerialists from La Petite Chouette, who local dance aficionados may have seen at this month’s First Thursdays at The Granada.

“The aerialists are perfect for the Lobero’s space,” says Buchanan, “and audiences will be excited to see how it fits into the rest of the show.”

BASSH can’t help but reflect trends in popular culture. “Dancing with the Stars” came out in 2007, and “that’s the year that we completely sold out both nights,” Buchanan says. “That show definitely influences the population.”

That may explain why the amount of schools and artists has remained fairly constant throughout these leaner years. Thirty acts auditioned, 18 made the evening.

“Yes, it’s a luxury to go to the theater, and it’s a luxury to take dance classes,” admits Buchanan, “but I think it’s important for people to keep exposing themselves to dance.”

The deal worked between acts and SBDA is simple. The act provides the craft, choreography and costumes, SBDA provides the venue, the marketing and logistics. Derrick Curtis will also step in to provide help. “If we see a piece has potential, we will help them craft and produce the very best that they can do,” says Buchanan.

This is pretty good for a show that started out at SOhO and initially intended to focus on choreographers. It soon grew too big for a small stage and is now a mainstay of the Lobero’s calendar.

SBDA is currently looking to reinvent its mission statement and funding, according to Buchanan. Apart from BASSH this month, the other big annual event is its celebration of world dance, which used to take place during one of the ethnic festivals in town, or at Marjorie Luke. This year it moves to Chase Palm Park for a day-long celebration, Aug. 28, and a new name: The Santa Barbara International Dance Festival. Admission is free, and comes right in the middle of tourist season.

“We’re doing what makes sense for the community, and not just what makes sense for us,” Buchanan says. “It will give visitors a taste of the kind of talent we have in Santa Barbara.”

BASSH
When: 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday
Where: Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St.
Cost: $18 student, $25 general, $50 patron
Information: lobero.com or 963-0761

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