Right about now, in the midst of our dry season, dancing up a storm in Santa Barbara sounds like a pretty good idea. Luckily, the arrival of fall ushers in a new season of dance performances and classes, some of which promise to approach prayer in their fervor. Whether or not they are actual rain dances, it’s the season for dancing.
Les Petits Ballets Santa Barbara
Small but mighty, Ballet Santa Barbara has proven itself with strong performers and a wide range of contemporary choreography. The city’s newest professional ballet company celebrates the opening of its fourth season with four new ballets, including work by Artistic Director Carrie Diamond and East Coast guest choreographers Brian Carey Chung, Carlos Fittante, and Lizabeth Skalski. The show features live music, including an original score by Jose Luis Greco. Fri., Sept. 28, 7pm; Sat., Sept. 29, 2 and 8pm; Sun., Sept. 30, 2pm. Center Stage Theater, 751 Paseo Nuevo. Call 963-0408 or visit balletsantabarbara.org.
Flamenco Arts Festival
In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month-the period beginning September 15 that commemorates the independence of seven Latin American countries and the legacy of Hispanic culture in America-the Santa Barbara Flamenco Arts Festival kicks off its eighth season with a performance by Ballet Flamenco Javier Bar³n. The Sevillian company led by the master bailaor will perform Dos Voces para un Baile for one night only; a post-performance celebration follows the show. The festival also includes masterclasses in dance technique, choreography, and flamenco guitar. Performance: Sat., Sept. 29, 8pm. Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St. Masterclasses: Sun., Sept. 30, 11am-4:30pm. Santa Barbara Ballet Center, 1019 Chapala St. Call 963-0761 or visit flamencoarts.org.
The Santa Barbara Dance Alliance-the organization behind many annual dance shows and events including the International Dance, Art, and Music Festival, the Teen Choreography Showcase, and a masterclass series with visiting dance companies-holds its annual gala fundraiser in the festive atmosphere of the Montecito Country Club. Attendees are invited to wear their dancing shoes; DJ Mike Loeza will be spinning everything from swing to salsa. Fri., Oct. 12, 8pm-midnight. Montecito Country Club, 920 Summit Rd. Call 966-6950 or visit sbdancealliance.org.
Down on lower State Street, the professional dancers of State Street Ballet are preparing for a new season in rehearsals for Carmen. Georges Bizet’s music and William Soleau’s choreography tell the stirring tale of a Spanish military officer’s love for a gypsy girl. The company’s rendition has already played to a sold-out house in Hollywood. Go to the Web site for a sneak peek of the show. Fri., Oct. 19, 8pm; Sun. Oct. 21, 2pm. Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St. Call 963-0761 or visit statestreetballet.com.
Pilobolus Dance Theatre
Although perhaps best known for the striking photographs of its creative contortions, Pilobolus is best seen live and in motion. Founded in the early 1970s by students at Dartmouth College, Connecticut-based Pilobolus combines circus-style acrobatics, modern dance choreography, and sculptural and theatrical elements to produce shows at once wildly popular and truly innovative. This performance will feature work by Israeli choreographer Inbal Pinto. Members of the company will also offer two modern dance masterclasses. Performance: Tue., Oct. 30, 8pm. UCSB’s Campbell Hall. Call 893-3535 or visit artsandlectures.ucsb.edu. Masterclasses: Mon., Oct. 29, 5:30-7:30pm (teens) and 7:30-9:30pm (adults). Santa Barbara Jazz Dance Academy, 1 N. Calle Cesar Ch¡vez, Ste. 100. Call 966-6950 or visit sbdancealliance.org.
In what is less a performance than a sacred ritual, Turkey’s Whirling Dervishes will give a demonstration of its captivating method of communing with the divine. Members of the Mevlevi Order of the Whirling Dervishes, a group founded by Sufi poet and mystic Mevlana Jalaleddin Rumi in the 13th century, spin in circles to achieve a state at once hypnotic and ecstatic. Their whirling will be accompanied by live music. Tue., Nov. 13, 8pm. UCSB’s Campbell Hall. Call 893-3535 or visit artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.
Coleman Lemieux& Compagnie
Never before seen in California, this Montreal-based company is known for blending classical and modern technique and choreography. Its program features work by National Ballet of Canada choreographer James Kudelka, including his masterwork, Fifteen Heterosexual Duets. Members of the company will also offer a masterclass in contemporary ballet. Performance: Fri., Nov. 16, 8pm. UCSB’s Campbell Hall. Call 893-3535 or visit artsandlectures.ucsb.edu. Masterclass: Wed., Nov. 14, 7:30-9:30pm. Santa Barbara City College, 721 Cliff Dr. Call 966-6950 or visit sbdancealliance.org.
SonneBlauma Danscz Theatre
Joanna Nobbe, a former Santa Barbara resident who has been living in Istanbul for the past year and a half, joins SonneBlauma Danscz Theatre for an evening of contemporary dance exchange. Nobbe will share works created abroad, while SonneBlauma Artistic Director Misa Kelly will present two of her works from the company’s repertory, Nadar Sabe en El Agua Fria and Gypsy Dreams, as well as a new work, Le Jardin Bleu. The artists will also perform an improvisation. Sun., Nov. 25, 7:30pm. Montecito School of Ballet, 529 E. Gutierrez St. Call 569-0389 or visit sonneblauma.com.
UCSB Fall Dance Concert
UCSB’s Department of Theater and Dance presents its annual fall concert, this year under the direction of faculty member Tonia Shimin, who retires at the end of the fall quarter after more than 25 years with the department. Fri., Nov. 30 and Sat., Dec. 1, 8pm; Sun., Dec. 2, 2pm. UCSB’s Hatlen Theatre. Call 893-7221 or visit theaterdance.ucsb.edu.
Under the artistic direction of Denise Rinaldi, Santa Barbara Festival Ballet presents its 33rd anniversary performance of the Tchaikovsky classic. With more than 100 dancers accompanied by a full live orchestra, the production honors the tradition of the enduring holiday ballet, and appeals to all ages. Sat., Dec. 8, 2:30 and 7pm; Sun., Dec. 9, 2:30pm. Arlington Theatre. Call 963-4408 or visit sbnutcracker.com.
The traditional Christmas ballet is a staple for the holiday season in cities far and wide, but State Street Ballet puts a twist on the original, making it glitzy, glamorous, and perfectly at home in Southern California. Don’t worry: Clara, her prince, and the sugar plum fairies are still included, and they’ll join the kids in the audience for a post-show reception after the Sunday matinee. Sat., Dec. 15, 2 and 7pm; Sun., Dec. 16, 2pm. Call 963-0761 or visit statestreetballet.com.
Every New Year, Santa Barbara Dance Alliance presents a showcase of new dances created by area choreographers and dance artists. The works included are selected by an adjudication panel in November auditions, and always demonstrate a broad range of styles and themes. Fri., Jan. 11-Sun., Jan. 13, 8pm. Call 963-0408 or visit sbdancealliance.org.