BASSH: Ballroom, Argentine Tango, Salsa, Swing, and Hip-Hop
At the Lobero Theatre, Sunday, April 9.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Schwyzer
“It just takes passion, dedication, and desire,” they claimed. “And a lot of dance classes.” The MCs of this year’s social dance showcase, Cathy Rice, Derrick Curtis, and Santa Barbara Dance Alliance Executive Director Julie McLeod, hosted an evening dedicated to highlighting the passion for dance that burns in our community, and the devotion it takes to bring that passion to the stage.
Adjudicated by a panel three months ago, the choreography selected for inclusion represented everything from Nova Dance Studio’s snappy Cha Cha and Rhumba duets to music video-inspired hip-hop from the 12 teens of 14K Jules Dance Company. Whether you like your men in pork pies and pinstripes and your women in slinky sequins, or you’re more captivated by fishnet armbands and shredded T-shirts, BASSH exhibited fashion and flair to suit all tastes, although the dancing outstripped the costumes: Earrings flew from ears, hats tumbled from heads, and medallions spilled from collars as these performers went at their work with the abandon of true zeal. Forget the thrill of the big stage, the buzz of big names, and the lure of the big apple — this was down-home dance at its best, and the thrill was contagious.
Romanian dancer/choreographer Alex Zagrean and his partner Jamie Powers oozed with sensuality in the Paso Doble as they pursued each other with sleek, polished presentation, while Fardad Michael Serry and Julie Stillman’s Argentine Tango was less hot flash, more subtle sizzle. BASSH regular Fay Villanueva danced a dramatically romantic tango with Marlon Ruckle, while the inimitable Teresa Johnson hit the stage twice: first for a Bolero and Paso Doble with David Alvarez of the Santa Barbara Dance Center, then with Chris Stewart for her signature Savoy Style Lindy Hop, complete with aerial work. We even got a nibble off the big apple: Rice, who once danced for Bob Fosse on Broadway, and McLeod, who performed in the original cast of West Side Story, treated us to a little jazzy New York glitz.
Between the romantic and partner-based ballroom dances, the next generation of social dance busted out with unrestrained ensemble breakdancing, hip- hopping, popping, and locking from groups including Fusion Dance Company and Annihilation. “I can’t understand the lyrics,” noted the ballroom fan beside me. That’s probably for the best.
There’s no question how hard these dancers work to hone their talents, or how intense is their passion, dedication, and desire. “We bring dance to the community and community to dance,” McLeod reminded an enthusiastic audience Sunday night. Curtis chimed in, “You too can be up here next year dancing — if you have the passion.” Any takers?