“We’re reinventing ourselves. It’s the re-birth of the International Dance & Music Festival,” said Julie McLeod, director of Santa Barbara Dance Alliance (SBDA). For 13 years, this tireless nonprofit dance advocacy organization has sponsored the two-day mash up of ethnic dance and music at Oak Park. Now, with park permit fees spiraling beyond their reach, SBDA has changed things up and are holding the event at the Marjorie Luke Theatre (721 E. Cota) for one day only-Saturday, September 13, from 2-7 p.m. But don’t fret; this year’s festival will be just like it was in the park. You can dance, you can watch, and you can listen-this time on the other side of town. The best news of all, 2008’s fest will all be concentrated into one afternoon and parking promises to be much easier. For information and tickets, call 966-6950 or visit sbdancealliance.org. Here are five reasons you should definitely check it out:
1] You get to say a bad word (kinda) every time you mention the event: Okay, this joke might go a bit further if you’re nine and not 40, but it’s still fun to say. “I’m going to that DaM Festival!”
2] It’s free for kids (and cheap for everyone else): Here’s the scoop: Attendees 16-years and under get in for free, and for everyone else admission is only $10 : for all the international dance and music you can imagine. What a deal! Bring the whole family. Heck, bring the neighbor’s kids, too.
3] It’s not just a spectator sport: From 2-4:30 p.m. there will be free dance classes where you can try out capoeira, hula, salsa, Balkan, African-American, Chicago two-step, Mexican folkloric, Middle Eastern, and flamenco styles. Who knows? You might discover a hidden talent.
4] Variety, baby! From 5-7 p.m. in the theater, 14 troupes will perform dance styles including flamenco, salsa, Spanish classical, hula/Tahitian, capoeira, Brazilian, African, Balkan, Middle Eastern, Balinese, and Indian Bollywood. There will even be a performance of international folk songs. It’s like taking a trip around the world without leaving your seat!
5] Help preserve tradition: “Ethnic dance is a very important part of dance in Santa Barbara,” said McLeod. “And it’s very important to keep it alive. It’s as much legitimate dance as ballet, modern, jazz, and ballroom. We need to continue to honor our ethnic folk dancers and different cultures in the community.”