WEATHER »
Diana Law's jazzy "Love's Avalon" gave State Street Ballet's dancers a chance to get into the spirit of swing.

David Bazemore

Diana Law's jazzy "Love's Avalon" gave State Street Ballet's dancers a chance to get into the spirit of swing.


Ballroom, presented by State Street Ballet.

At the Lobero Theatre, Saturday February 9.


Now celebrating its 15th year, State Street Ballet is known for stretching audience expectations of the art form. Its most recent program, a series of shorter works inspired by the swing dance era collectively titled Ballroom, took as its mission melding two very different dance forms: classical ballet and swing dance.

Historically speaking, ballet and swing are about as dissimilar as two dance styles could be. Ballet originated in 15th-century Renaissance Italy and then in the court of Louis XIV in 17th-century France; swing dance was popularized in North America in the years following the Depression, when a great number of African Americans moved north to New York and Chicago in order to escape the American South, bringing jazz music and syncopated partner dancing with them. In short, ballet was a courtly dance; swing was the dance of the masses. The developing style and the aesthetic of each was in keeping with its place in social life: ballet was codified, technical, and elegant; swing exuberant, defiant, rough-edged, and wild.

No surprise, then, that they don’t make for the most natural union. Six different choreographers approached the task, with varying degrees of success. The opener, Victoria Simon’s “Salute to Sinatra,” replaced the spontaneity and exhilaration of swing dance with a more stilted, stagey version of Dancing with the Stars. More enjoyable was Diana Law’s jazzy, Broadway-inspired “Love’s Avalon,” which gave the dancers space to strut their stuff and cop some attitude-an essential element of swing. Brand new to the company and already making waves, Spencer Gavin stole the show in this piece with his no-holds-barred show-off solo. UCSB faculty members Christopher Pilafian and Nancy Colahan collaborated on “Dream Dancing,” a duet danced in bare feet and silk pajamas, giving the dancers a welcome chance to move with greater freedom. In every piece, the dancers’ technical execution and total commitment to the work was outstanding-a standard that has become the norm for State Street Ballet. Let’s hope their next appearance on the new Granada stage gives these dancers space to really swing out.

To submit a comment on this article, email letters@independent.com or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email tips@independent.com.



Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Lawmakers Move to Impede Offshore Oil Leases

A pair of bills aim to counter the federal government's new push for production.

More Money Available for Santa Barbara County’s Disaster Victims

The United Way is giving to Santa Barbara nonprofits and offering direct cash grants.

Santa Barbara’s Commuter Train Brings Solid Ridership and Timely Service

The first two weeks of service have seen a daily average topping 180 riders.

Animal Care for New Cuyama

County Animal Services will host free and discount pet services on April 22.

Goleta’s Library Is Seeking Volunteers

As it separates from Santa Barbara, help needed to change barcodes.