Debut Ballet

Ballet Santa Barbara

At the Marjorie Luke Theatre, Sunday, March 12.
Starting a new dance company is an arduous undertaking. Ballet
Santa Barbara Artistic Director Carrie Diamond took on the task to
realize her vision: original and diverse contemporary ballet
performed by a combination of talented professional community
dancers, students, and guest artists. Ballet Santa Barbara’s first
performance delivered diversity and creativity, and enjoyable
dancers, although with some overall inconsistency in the program
and a few growing pains.

“The Triumph of Terpsichore” was choreographed by Diamond and
set to a romantic score by David Noon. This pastoral scene, which
favored mood over technique, eloquently told the story of a peasant
girl led off by a pair of fairies, danced by Ellen O’Connell and
Aimee Lopez. Sam Mitchell and Eduardo Cueto were strong partners
for Christina Sanchez and Colleen Bialas, who played the girl
enticed by the sprites.

“Premonition” was choreographed by the late Benjamin Harkarvy,
creator of the Nederlands Dans Theater and Dance Division Director
at Juilliard. The piece’s Ravel score and ’20s bathing costumes
created an art-deco sensibility. Gesture and style abounded,
particularly in the protracted solo by Carlos Fittante. Though the
story was sparse, Fittante danced well with fellow bathers Bialas,
O’Connell, and Lopez. Fittante reprised the role he created in this
piece when Diamond presented it as part of the New American Ballet
Ensemble repertoire. An eminently watchable dancer, Fittante also
performed a gender-bending, culture-fusing solo “Amantes,” which
merged Balinese gestures with a Spanish score.

“Midnight Tangle” began with a playful twist on a tango lesson,
but suffered from a lack of chemistry between partners Kaitlyn
Ezell and Shane Scopatz. Bialas’s solo “New Step Rag,” on the other
hand, sparkled. Choreographed by Diamond, with music composed and
performed onstage by pianist Eric Valinsky, it was easy to see how
Bialas was one of the inspirations for Diamond to put together this
company, whose next performance Diamond projects will be in
November. For those looking for the contemporary with nods to the
classical, the dancers and dances presented will be something to


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