Celebrating Experimentation

New Works, presented by the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance. At
Center Stage Theater, Friday, January 27.

Our tight-knit dance community exhibited bravery, daring,
creativity, and prowess in this year’s New Works showcase. Nine
pieces by as many chorographers were selected from a group of 20
aspirants, and variety was the order of the evening. The pieces
ranged from a languid exploration of poetry with a Victorian mood
by captivating dancer J’aime Morrison, to Misa Kelly’s primal
dreams, and Valerie Huston’s lively juxtapositions of ballerinas at
crescendo.

The dancers in Misa Kelly’s “Twang” roared, and mimed elephants
and monkeys while alternating acrobatic dance and tumbling to a
cathartic soundtrack — with moments of humor tossed in. Vanessa
Kent provided the costumes in primary colors that clothed Kelly’s
primitive motifs.

In Marcos Duran’s “Fix,” four dancers switched partners,
transformed, and traded interactions in still moments and flashes
of darkness. The simple sound score was haunting, but the piece as
a whole moved too slowly and ended too abruptly.

In “Resuscitate” the lights came up on Emily Proctor to reveal
her bound with rope and held by a masked and caped man from the
back of the stage. As she writhed and danced she toyed with the
leash, indicating interplay between bondage and freedom.

Next was Nancy Colahan’s “Mini-Circular #2,” in which a group of
UCSB sophomores costumed in blue jeans opened and closed formation
in circular, kaleidoscopic patterns. Waves of blue sparkled in the
light of the stage. Colahan plans to develop this piece further
with these dancers, and if the first segment is any indication, it
will be remarkable.

“Oh How They Fall …” was a delight. The combination of
accomplished dancer Cybil Gilbertson in pink tulle and Robin
Bisio’s daring choreography was heady, and the immediacy of the
live musical accompaniment by James Connolly and Laura Hackstein
produced one of the evening’s most stunning new works. At the end
of the evening Santa Barbara County Arts Commissioner Patrick Davis
was lauded for his quarter-century of support of the arts in
general, and dance in particular. Davis is the first non-dancer
ever to win the Dance Alliance’s “Martha,” or lifetime achievement
award. Davis was also recognized that evening by the City of Santa
Barbara, California Arts Council, and the United States Congress
via Lois Capps. The applause and camaraderie was a fitting end to
an evening celebrating our most explosive art form.

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