Is it too early to be planning the fall and new year? Didn’t summer just start? If you’re Celesta Billeci and her longtime staff at UCSB Arts & Lectures, thinking years ahead is just part of the job. Long before this story, A&L signed off on a full calendar of events beginning in August and ending next May, with lots of room in between for surprises to happen. (And good surprises, too. This time last year, that surprise turned out to be Elvis Costello.)
“People always ask us, ‘What’s new?'” says Billeci. “But ‘what’s new’ is our modus operandi. We’re always adding new events. We want to keep it fresh and relevant. We don’t want to say this is it, and nothing more.”
A bit contemporary dance, a bit Vegas, a bit hip-hop, a whole lot of attitude and a dash of silliness. You can’t really pin down these Pin-Down Girls, but know this: SOhO loves them and is having the “variety dance troupe” back tonight for another evening of sexy dance routines.
“People like to jump to the conclusion that we’re a burlesque company,” says Devin Fulton, executive artistic director and one of the eight Girls. “And I like to say we’re not. At all.”
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?
Tap-dancing wonder Savion Glover brings out his dancing art from somewhere deep within his thin frame. Like a Rasta shaman, he conjures multilayered syncopation, pushing and pulling the beat, compressing and exploding over and over into showers of rapid-fire foot movements. At nearly 90 minutes of dancing with only a short break, Mr. Glover thrilled the Lobero audience on Sunday night in a personal, packed show.
He has been amazing theatergoers since he was 12, and his tour brings a four-piece jazz ensemble along with a young protégé called Cartier for a deep examination of tap-dancing. Whereas traditional tap-dancers coast along on top of the music, with gaps left by the band for the dancer to fill, Mr. Glover is the fifth instrument.
“The inspiration for this piece came from not really knowing what I wanted to do.”
Choreographer Kenneth Kvarnström is talking on the phone from his San Francisco hotel room about “Fragile,” the hour-long work from 2001 that his dance company is bringing to UCSB Campbell Hall on Wednesday.
“Fragile is how I felt,” he says. Since 1987, the Finnish-born but Stockholm-based Kvarnström has made it his company’s mission to produce one long work per year, and then tour the world with it.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
–Robert Frost, from “The Road Not Taken”
Choreographer William Soleau has been thinking about destiny and choice a lot this year as he puts the final touches to his four-act work “Seasons,” a world premiere for the opening of State Street Ballet’s tenth season.
“What if I had chosen another college?” Soleau asks, “What if I hadn’t met that one teacher? What if I had not fallen in love with that one girl?
“These ‘what if?’ questions are something everyone can relate to,” he says.
A sold-out Campbell Hall crowd on Friday night got a heady dose of Twyla Tharp’s choreography as her recently regrouped (in 1999) Twyla Tharp Dance performed four works that brought Santa Barbara crowds up to date on Tharp’s most recent work, while delving back briefly for a look at Tharp’s beginnings. For relative newcomers it was a night of contrasts; for longtime aficionados, it was a confirmation of the changes Tharp has brought to modern dance.
The company is a talented, well chosen collection of dancers, all very strong by themselves, and the evening’s program introduced them to us two or three at a time, culminating with almost the entire company participating in the rousing finale. But more of that later.
“I never expected I would be dancing solo. I expected I would just be dancing with companies. I had no idea that this would grab me by the roots. One project moves me in unexpected directions, and from there the next project arises.”
Dancer, choreographer, and teacher Peggy Baker still expresses amazement at her career and where she now finds herself, despite being someone who has never settled for anything less than what she wants.
She also has never let–and is still not letting–age determine what she can do. At 51, Baker–past member of the Lar Lubovitch Company, original member of the White Oak Project, and now solo performer–is pushing the boundaries and expanding the repertoire for mature dancers. She will be performing as part of the UCSB Dance Department Faculty Concert on October 10.