This year has seen some of America’s most renowned modern dance companies come through town, from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater this winter to the upcoming performance by Paul Taylor Dance Company in April. But the Santa Barbara dance scene is not to be overlooked, with performances by modern dancers, ballet, and even ballroom gracing the stage. Dance, although gorgeous in performance, is not merely a spectator sport. This spring offers opportunities for even the faint of heart to take a step or two, whether it is a dollar class to celebrate dance day, or a masterclass with some of dance’s modern masters. Summer, as well, is just around the corner, and Summerdance just announced its no‑longer‑secret guest, Mikhail Baryshnikov (tickets on sale April 8).
Sacred Music and Dance with the Tibetan Monks of Gaden Shartse Monastery In Tibet, performance is sacred and even observing the monks perform is a transcendent meditative event. This evening is part of a multiday visit that includes creating a sand mandala and lectures about Buddhist Tibet. Wed., Mar. 29, 7:30pm; MultiCultural Center Theater, UCSB; $10; 893 8411.
State Street Ballet’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream Shakespeare’s classic tale of fairies and love, magic and jealousy, marriage and mystery is set to the music of Mendelssohn and choreographed by State Street Ballet Artistic Director Rodney Gustafson. The evening will also include the Russian romantic revival of the mythic “Esmeralda” as well as the fiery and classic “Flames of Paris” recalling the French Revolution with music by composer Boris Asafiev. Sat., Apr. 1, 8pm and Sun., Apr. 2, 2pm; Lobero Theatre; $24 $44; 963 0761.
Summerdance Baryshnikov tickets on sale Summerdance Santa Barbara is opening its 10th season with a performance by Mikhail Baryshnikov. Baryshnikov and the Hell’s Kitchen Dancers will be making their only Southern California stop at the Lobero, and will perform work by Aszure Barton, who was in residence at last year’s Summerdance festival. Performance dates are June 21 23, with a benefit reception for Summerdance June 23. Tickets on sale Sat., Apr. 8, noon; Lobero Theatre; $50 $65, $150 (Summerdance benefit reception); 963 0761.
BASSH: Ballroom, Argentine Tango, Swing, Salsa, & Hip Hop One of the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance’s most lively events, BASSH brings together otherwise disparate elements of the dance community to show off their talent and passion. More than 100 dancers and dance instructors take to the stage to kick up their heels in one of the year’s most exciting dance events. Become a patron and join the dancers on stage for a post performance gala. Sat., Apr. 8, 8pm and Sun., Apr. 9, 7pm; Lobero Theatre; $18 $50; 963 0761.
Ephemeral/Indelible: A Concert in Motion The UCSB Dance Department leaps into spring with this season’s offering of graduating student compositions along with a new restaging of some classic choreographic works. Professor Emeritus Alice Condodina has directed and adapted legend José Limón’s acclaimed “Psalm” for the university dancers. Condodina was one of the principal dancers with Limón’s company, and performed “Psalm” in its 1967 premiere. Accomplished students Blake Hennessy York, Nicole Helton, Cherise Richards, and Gina Schmidt will be presenting new work under the direction of faculty member Stephanie Nugent. Thu. Sat., Apr. 13 15, 8pm; Hatlen Theatre, UCSB; $13 $17; 893 3535.
Rhapsodies for Humanity Music is written in on the dance card with performances by Stephen Kelly for this benefit for SonneBlauma Danscz Theatre. The company focuses on contemporary dance with soul, movement that originates from emotion to tap into our shamanic nature. At the benefit, SonneBlauma will present the Glorious Being Award. Fri., Apr. 14; Music Academy of the West; $22 $25; 569 0389 or sonneblauma.com.
Westmont Fringe Festival With a creative and devotional spirit, Westmont faculty and students present a montage of theater, dance, and performance art in their spring festival held in the newly renovated Porter Theatre. Thu. Sat., Apr. 20 22, 8pm and Apr. 22, 2pm; Porter Theatre, Westmont; $5 $10; 565 6040.
Rite of Spring The Santa Barbara Dance Theater breaks the barriers of modern dance for its spring fling combining movement, puppetry, video, and spectacle for three dramatic works. “Artifice” superimposes video and dance to explore perceptions of beauty, shape, and the natural world, “Rite of Spring” is a new version of Stravinsky’s moving score exploring a puppet’s sacrifice, and “Holding Pattern” features dancers stunt diving through hip hop. Fri., Apr. 21, 8pm; Lobero Theatre; 963 0761.
Santa Barbara Dance Day Have you always wanted to take a dance class, but thought you had two left feet? Shake off your shoes, and collect your change. Santa Barbara dance studios are offering classes for less than the price of a cup of coffee — merely one dollar — to celebrate National Dance Week and to convince you that anyone can dance. Sun., Apr. 23, all day; $1 per class; 966 6950 or sbdancealliance.org.
Paul Taylor Master Class Paul Taylor’s company is one of the country’s institutions of modern dance, yet always innovative. Take your dance to a new level in this masterclass, or just come to watch the raw edge of dance. Tue., Apr. 25, 7:30 9:30pm; Santa Barbara Ballet Center; $5 $10; 966 6950.
Paul Taylor Dance Company Living legend Paul Taylor, choreographer, dancer, and icon, is still in the midst of celebrating 50 years of his dance company with a tour of all 50 states. Thankfully, Santa Barbara is one of the stops. Taylor continuously pushes the edges of modern dance, with lively dancers and inspiring choreography. Wed., Apr. 26, 8pm; UCSB’s Campbell Hall; $19 $40; 893 3535.