Some things just get better with age. That’s the case with the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance (SBDA), a nonprofit founded in 1979 to connect artists and resources. Over the years, SBDA has grown to become a key player in the city’s performing arts culture. In addition to all the behind-the-scenes work they do to support dance in our community, SBDA now hosts a range of performances every year, including a showcase of teen choreography. This Saturday, June 11, at 7 p.m., the 16th annual On the Verge will take place at the Marjorie Luke Theatre. For tickets, call 966-6950 or visit sbdancealliance.org. Here are three reasons to check it out.
1. Professionalism: The show represents more than just an opportunity for young dance makers to put their work on the stage. Participants are paired with adult mentors who work as dance professionals. Teen choreographers are responsible for casting, lighting, costumes, stage direction, and marketing. It’s a fast-paced process; applications were due at the end of April, so the whole thing has come together in little more than six weeks. That’s the way the pros do it, and SBDA wants to give these teens the skills they’ll need to succeed in the world of professional dance.
2. Variety: It’s not often you’ll get to see aerial dance, classical ballet, contemporary, hip-hop, and flamenco on a single program. The teens in this year’s show come from high schools, colleges, and dance studios across Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. They represent a wide swath of our region’s cultures and communities, yet they’re linked together by their love of dance and their dedication to improving their craft. The diversity of styles on display is a reminder of our region’s rich performing arts culture.
3. Growth: It’s great to see artists at their top of their game, but there’s nothing quite like witnessing the development of creativity. For those who have attended On the Verge in recent years, there’s the thrill of seeing some of the same young artists return with greater maturity and more distinct voices. But even for those who’ve never seen the showcase, there’s no denying you’re witnessing a formative moment for the dancers involved. Among this year’s returning choreographers is 19-year-old Thomas Salgado Jr., who has been mentored by Rose Marie Cruz. “Working with her has really helped me grow,” Salgado noted, adding, “There’s a great thrill when you finally get to see your piece on stage after working so hard to create it.”