In February 2008, State Street Ballet (SSB) brought to the Lobero Theatre a showcase of dances inspired by the golden era of swing. Ballroom marked the Santa Barbara debut of a new principal dancer whose tremendous energy, stage presence, and stellar technique stood out from an unquestionably talented cast. That dancer was Spencer Gavin.
Just over a year later, Gavin, along with his girlfriend Andrea Dawn Shelley, have left SSB to do what many might not dare in a failing economy: start their own dance company.
“As dancers, we are always looking for work,” Gavin explained in a phone conversation last week. “It is a really hard time, but we can’t roll over and wait until the economy gets better.”
Never one to give up in challenging times, 32-year-old Gavin has for 12 years remained committed to making a living in the world of dance. That commitment has taken him from California-where he started out in his mother’s company, Redlands Festival Ballet-to Florida to Texas and back again. In the process, Gavin has danced with numerous ballet companies and supplemented his income by building dance floors. Now, he feels, it’s time to strike out on his own.
Infinite Movement Ever Evolving
- When: Friday, June 12, 2009, 8 p.m.
- Where: Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St., Santa Barbara, CA
- Cost: $20 - $50
- Age limit: Not available
“The more I dance and the older I get, I have found it’s harder to do the stuff I really love,” Gavin explained. “I really want to choreograph.” Gavin said he chose the company’s mouthful of a name-Infinite Movement Ever Evolving (IMEE)-to reflect his aims. “We’re infinitely striving to evolve as dancers and artists,” he explained. “Instead of calling it ‘dance,’ we chose ‘movement,’ because we don’t want to be limited to classical, modern, or hip-hop; we want to do it all.”
In order to prepare for IMEE’s debut show, six professional dancers flew to Santa Barbara in late May for nine days of rehearsal. They are artists Gavin and Shelley know from their work with a variety of companies, and they have been working eight hours a day learning dances most of them have never done before.
The program consists primarily of works by Gavin and Shelley, including Gavin’s hip-hop inspired “Doctor Developmental” about a mad scientist who tries to program dancers, and Shelley’s theatrical “Son of Dust,” based on the concept of the fallen angel. In the future, Gavin hopes, IMEE will also serve as a platform for other emerging choreographers. “There are a lot of amazing dancers out there who never get a chance to choreograph,” he explained.