The East India Dance Company fused modern movement and classical Indian dance in its Bollywood-style "Aaja Nachle."

Paul Wellman

The East India Dance Company fused modern movement and classical Indian dance in its Bollywood-style "Aaja Nachle."

International Dance and Music Festival, presented by the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance

At the Marjorie Luke Theatre, Saturday, September 13.

Saturday’s 14th Annual International Dance and Music Festival managed an admirable feat: compressing what has always been a weekend-long festival into a half-day event. Starting at 2 p.m. outside the theater, short dance lessons in a variety of international styles, from hula to capoeira, were offered to the approximately 75 eager participants.

At 5 p.m., the crowd moved inside for the stage performance, with 12 different troupes adding their multicultural flavors to the mix. And a delicious blend it was, starting out with Hula Anyone? under the direction of Angelita Eller. Always a crowd-pleaser, the troupe performed a lovely, swaying hula and then a Tahitian number, with live drumming adding a dramatic flair.

Also notable was Daniela Zerme±o’s flamenco solo, and her duet with 12-year-old Marlon Dorantes, recently featured as a “Child Prodigy” in Dance Magazine. A longtime Dance Alliance scholarship recipient, Dorantes left no doubt as to how he earned the title, and danced with a precision and passion that showed glimpses of the man he will become.

The Oak Park Village Dancers, led by Luis Goena, presented Balkan folk dances with great panache. Dressed in beautiful, authentic costumes from Bulgaria and Macedonia, they appeared to have just stepped out of a charming old-country village.

Middle Eastern dance was represented with two duets-an Egyptian cane dance and a fusion number done to an Egyptian pop song-by Cris! and Kalila, directed and choreographed by Alexandra King. Both women danced with grace and charisma befitting the style.

Just Baila, including directors Hector and Avital Sanchez, showed off some snazzy salsa styling. Two couples performed astounding lifts, drops, and twirls, and projected an exuberant charm.

Hip Brazil closed out the show with a suite of dances, including a high-energy, jazzy trio and a beautiful, flowing solo by troupe director Vanessa Isaac.

These groups embody the best aspect of ethnic dance traditions; they dance for the enjoyment of it rather than for an audience. That we delight in watching them is testament to their authenticity, and their infectious energy and joy.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

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:

Mandatory Evacuation Called for Fire Zones in Santa Barbara County

Heavy rains expected Tuesday-Thursday; debris flows feared.

Cannabis Farmer Gets over $1 Million Insurance Payout

Thomas Fire ash destroys crop; analysis finds asbestos, lead, arsenic, and magnesium.

Next Debris Flow Could Take Different, Unknown Path

"I've never seen this degree of hazard," says Cal Fire scientist.

Biggest Storm Since 1/9 Approaching Santa Barbara

The storm system brings increased threat of flash floods and debris flows.

Jack Johnson Tours Montecito Disaster Area Ahead of Benefit Concert

Jack and Kim Johnson met with Bucket Brigade leaders to see the destruction firsthand.