Ask most dancers what inspired them to get started, and they’ll tell you a story from their childhood. Kids respond to dance instinctively, and whether or not they’ll set their courses for a career onstage, every child should have a chance to dance. Luckily, Santa Barbara’s got a wealth of upcoming opportunities for kids to watch dance, learn, and give it a whirl for themselves:
1. The Flamenco Arts Festival’s Concerto para los Niños: For over a decade, the Flamenco Arts Festival (FAF) has been bringing some of the world’s top flamenco artists to town. Now, for the first time, FAF presents a concert specifically designed to introduce children to this passionate art form. The Concerto para los Niños will take place at the Marjorie Luke Theatre (721 E. Cota St.) on Saturday, April 21, at 2 p.m., and features dancers Yolanda Arroyo and Emilio Ochando, who will also teach flamenco workshops for kids the following day. Musicians include famed Spanish gypsy flamenco singer Jesus Montoya and Los Angeles–based flamenco guitarists Paco Arroyo and Kai Narezo. Tickets are free to children 12 and under. To reserve a spot, call 963-0761 or visit lobero.com. To preregister for the dance workshops on Sunday at Santa Barbara Dance Arts (1 N. Calle César Chávez), call (805) 967-4164 or visit flamencoarts.org.
2. ¡Viva el Arte de Santa Bárbara! Presents Grandeza Mexicana: Los Angeles’s premiere folklórico dance troupe returns to Santa Barbara this month courtesy of ¡Viva el Arte! — a partnership between UCSB’s Arts & Lectures and the Marjorie Luke Theatre that brings international performing artists to the Spanish-speaking communities of Santa Barbara County. The company will showcase dances from the northern Mexican states of Durango and Zacatecas, as well as from Michoacán, Veracruz, and Jalisco. Free family performances take place Friday, April 20, at 7 p.m. at Isla Vista School (6875 El Colegio Rd., Goleta); Saturday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m. at Guadalupe City Hall (918 Obispo St., Guadalupe); and Sunday, April 22, at 7 p.m. at the Marjorie Luke. A free reception and artist meet-and-greet will follow each show.
3. Santa Barbara Launches Let’s Dance: After years in the works, it’s official: Starting in September 2012, all 10 Santa Barbara School District elementary schools will offer their students a dance curriculum. Let’s Dance is a collaboration between the Children’s Creative Project, the Santa Barbara School District, and American Dance & Music, and it’s funded by the Santa Barbara Foundation. Come fall, our kids will be dancing.