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Galaxy of dance: HHII Dance Fest promises three days of new and recent work

"Sand Into Glass" is performed by Nebula Dance Lab.

“Sand Into Glass” is performed by Nebula Dance Lab.

It’s spring, the season of dance, and the fields of March are blooming with the human form in beautiful motion. We’ve had aerial dance at the Lobero, shows from Santa Barbara Dance Arts, visits from Hart Pulse and the world famous Joffrey Ballet. It’s time to finish the month with the first installment of our own homegrown dance festival, HHII.

Devyn Duex is the woman behind this three-day festival taking over the Center Stage Theater this whole weekend, and the name HHII is a sly nod to Ms. Duex’s Nebula Dance Lab company: HHII is a star-forming region in the galaxy. “And star-forming – we thought that was perfect.”

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Bouncing back: After some setbacks, George Lopez returns to make Santa Barbara laugh

Comedian, actor and talk show host George Lopez performed his stand-up comedy June 27 at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Ga.

Comedian, actor and talk show host George Lopez performed his stand-up comedy June 27 at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta,

This has been a rollercoaster year for comedian George Lopez. He’s already been humbled and made much late-night fun over his drunken fall at a Canadian Casino. And then his latest sitcom “Saint George” on FX got the axe after only 10 episodes (more on that later). All that has turned him back to the one thing that he can do with absolute confidence, with no interference, and that’s stand-up. This Saturday he returns to the Santa Barbara Bowl for an evening of hilarity and soul-baring. While his stand-up has often been about family and culture and the effects of an abusive upbringing — told with devastating humor and honesty of course — Mr. Lopez says that he’s going to get even more personal for this new tour.

“We’re going to deal with the private George, not the public George,” he says. “Which I think is more compelling . . . The thing with the next special is to get more personal and dig deeper.”

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Experimental visions: MCA premieres On Edge Festival, four days of performance art

"This World Made Itself," Miwa Matreyek

As a frequent attendee at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s “Forum Lounge” over the years, it would be fair to say the events — every First Thursday at 7 p.m. — were unpredictable and just as often brilliant as they were half-baked. Sometimes there were short bursts of stunning performance, clocking in at a friendly 20 minutes; sometimes audiences found they had signed up for two hours. It was an experiment that had run its course in a way, but it was also pointing to something bigger, more consistent, and better defined. The On Edge Festival opens this Thursday, and promises the best of the performance art scene.

In its four days, the Festival, curated by Forum Lounge’s Heather Jeno Silva, will put on productions at MCA, as well as at Center Stage Theater, Municipal Winemakers, the Courthouse Sunken Gardens, and a gallery/event space on Canon Perdido.

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One-man show: Host, stand-up, personality…Ben Gleib does it all

Mr. Gleib, left, and producer Barry Katz at the premiere of "Dumbells".

Mr. Gleib at the premiere of “Dumbells”.

Stand-up comedian, game-show host, and actor Ben Gleib has just returned from Burning Man and is holed up for an extra night in his Reno hotel room, nursing something that sounds like a cold.

“It was amazing, very, very cool,” he says of his week on the playa. “Very introspective, very survivalist, and I’m so, so tired. Hopefully I can sleep, get this dust off of me, and wake up a new man, because I’ve got a special to record.”

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Waltz into Darkness: Touring one-man play ‘The Actual Dance’ examines breast cancer from husband’s perspective

Writer-performer Samuel Simon

Writer-performer Samuel Simon

Samuel Simon calls it his “fourth career.” Now a playwright and performer in his late sixties, it took him a full career to find his calling. After decades of being a lawyer, advocate and businessman, it was his wife’s brush with breast cancer and mortality that pushed him in semi-retirement out from behind a desk and conference calls to standing alone on stage for “The Actual Dance,” coming to Center Stage Theater this Thursday. How did this happen?

“I’m an actor and a playwright,” he says. “And that is such an incredible thing to hear myself say.” Right out of law school he worked for Ralph Nader, then joined the Army, then worked in D.C. and at the Federal Trade Commission. He then created a public relations firm at the dawn of the Internet, which turned out to be nicely profitable, enough to retire. In 2000 Mr. Simon started to take improv classes in New York City for personal development, taught by veterans from The Second City and the Groundlings. Around the same time, his wife Susan was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer.

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Laugh factory: Get ready for the six-day LOL Comedy Fest

Ben Gleib

Ben Gleib

Scott Montoya may not be a comedian but he knows his comedy. From helping his dad hand out pamphlets for the United Farmworkers to organizing festivals, Mr. Montoya has been bringing unheard voices to the masses. Starting this coming Tuesday, the Santa Barbara Laugh Out Loud Comedy Festival opens its doors for six days of stand-up comedy and more. A majority of the evenings are being filmed for broadcast, showing that Santa Barbara isn’t just being used as a practice run.

“Comedy is what is driving everything online right now,” Mr. Montoya says. “This is the best time to be in the comedy world. Even up to three years ago there was only Showtime and Comedy Central. Now it’s all over the place: there’s Netflix and we have our own channel on Hulu.”

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It’s a funny ol’ world: Comedian Russell Peters is one of the most-traveled stand-ups


Comedian Russell Peters may have never been to Santa Barbara before — “I remember the soap opera” — but he’s starting his world tour here as part of the opening of LOLFest.

“An actual world tour!” he adds. “Not like when some comics say ‘world tour’ and they mean USA and Canada.” He means it. The Canadian-Indian standup started his career in Canada, found success in Britain and now performs in any country that shows interest. In 2010 his show in Australia attracted the largest-ever audience for a stand-up in that country. He’s set similar records in London, and has found himself playing sets in South Africa and Thailand and beyond. And his wanderlust has added to his routine, where he affectionately pokes fun at the culture and behavior of various nations.

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A buffet of arts: Arts & Lectures new season welcomes new artists, many favorites

FROM TOP: "Schoolhouse Rock Live!" comes to UCSB's Campbell Hall on Oct. 12 - Tim Trumble photo David Sedaris, may 4 - UCSB Arts & Lectures W. Kamau Bell, Feb.5 - UCSB Arts & Lectures Cirque Ziva, Jan. 24 - Amitava Sarkar photo


“Schoolhouse Rock Live!” comes to UCSB’s Campbell Hall on Oct. 12 – Tim Trumble photo

David Sedaris, may 4 – UCSB Arts & Lectures

W. Kamau Bell, Feb.5 – UCSB Arts & Lectures

Cirque Ziva, Jan. 24 – Amitava Sarkar photo

The new season of Arts & Lectures is a few months away. Plenty of familiar faces return for this season — David Sedaris rounds it out in May as usual — but there are also a lot of new acts rolling through to get excited about. As UCSB’s arts series expands its venues to downtown, there’s a sort of delicate balance between campus and downtown.

“Much of our audience is community oriented, so it often makes sense to have it downtown,” says Roman Baratiak, Director Celeste Billeci’s second in command. The organization has its eyes on using The New Vic more too. And dance usually does better downtown.

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Jurassic 5 performs a headline show in March in Perth, Austrailia

Jurassic 5 performs a headline show in March in Perth, Austrailia

One of the highlights of last year’s Coachella music festival was the reunion of Jurassic 5, the well loved (and six-member) hip hop outfit that was totally West Coast in all the best ways: laid back yet totally tight and in control of their craft, individually as well as a team. They had cited artistic differences when they quit in 2007, but none of that was apparent when they got back together last year. Now they’re heading to the Santa Barbara Bowl this Sunday and they recently dropped an ace new single, “The Way We Do It,” which chops up the White Stripes’ “My Doorbell” to devastating effect.

But here’s the thing: they weren’t broken up that long, only by hip-hop standards. And the new single is really from 2006, part of a set of as-yet unreleased songs produced by Heavy D just before his death.

“I remember Heavy D saying, ‘Now I wanna make a hit for you guys,'” says Marc7, one of J5’s four vocalists, along with baritone Chali2na, Akil and Zaakir. “That’s the main thing he kept saying. That particular song was one of the last sessions we did. We had already recorded four or five songs with Heavy D. And on the last day of recording, he had that beat waiting for us. And we just wrote it right then and there … It was one of those songs that was just sitting in the vault.”

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