Art Unframed

SonneBlauma Danscz Theatre Takes to the Streets

by Felicia M. Tomasko

misaleap.jpgAs Misa Kelly sits beneath an arch of powder-blue morning glories in her backyard, sipping coffee and talking about her vision as an artist, she seems to embody creative expression. She tells me the secret to watching a meteor shower (it’s making sure that you’re comfortable), and it feels like she is transmitting some esoteric knowledge. Her MFA is from Cal Arts, where she participated in an interdisciplinary program combining dance, film, and visual art, so it makes sense that, although she is the artistic director of Sonne­Blauma Danscz, a community-based dance group, her work also includes visual art, theater, and filmmaking.

Dance remains Kelly’s core form of self-expression. While we are talking, she leaps from her chair to dance out an answer. Resembling a forest sprite, she undulates, waves her arms, dips, and folds, at the same time talking steadily about the role of the artist in uncertain times, about her anger at the current administration, and about process and performance.

“I have a hunger for experimentation,” she declares, sitting down again. She believes that the true artist is a catalyst for social change, what she describes as a carrier of conscious evolution, community building, and rebelling against the status quo. As a result, Kelly wants to democratize her art. And this is what she has done for the group’s upcoming performances.

One Day Dances, which will take place at various Santa Barbara locations on August 26, is Kelly’s effort to strip off the proverbial frame that surrounds most art. Kelly’s One Day Dances take artistic expression out of what she refers to as the “churches of art” — museums and theaters — and brings it to street corners, bus stops, and parks. SonneBlauma Danscz is not the first dance group in Santa Barbara to take it to the streets; Kelly acknowledges “Dance About Town” —  Dianne Vapnek’s Summerdance brainchild — as one of her inspirations. Kelly’s vision of how this will work involves lots of audience participation.

One Day Dances will begin with breakfast and continue with warm-ups, vocal exercises, rhythm games, and conversation. Next the troupe will venture to a thrift store to outfit themselves with costumes for their adventure before heading out. Beginning from an improvisation, Kelly will lead the group to create the choreography that they will later perform. To complete the process, the cast will feast together in a potluck celebration.

Kelly muses on the process when she asks, “What would that texture be like: to take the dance knowledge birthed in the sanctuary of the studio out onto the concrete and be as vulnerable as one is in the studio out in the open in the creative process?” It’s a question that can only be answered by the experience, one that Kelly is opening up not only to her professional company members, but also to anyone who dares to dance with them.

For more info about SonneBlauma Danscz and the August 26 One Day Dances, visit or contact Misa Kelly at 569-0389.

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