Felicia Guzman and Jekyns Pelaez, dancing Liz Skalski's "Midnight Tango."
David Bazemore

Last October, four-year-old contemporary classical ballet company Ballet Santa Barbara (BSB) collaborated with the Carrillo Recreation Center to present the first of its biannual community dance events, Ballet: Up Close and Cultural. With a turnout of more than 100 people, the afternoon of dance, discussion, and education at the Carrillo Ballroom was an undeniable success.

On Saturday, March 28, from 2-3:30 p.m., the folks at BSB give us another chance to experience this delightful free event. Children, families, and dance enthusiasts of all walks are welcome to attend. The afternoon includes performances of six pieces from the company’s repertory, including original choreography by BSB Artistic Director Carrie Diamond, and an excerpt from the classical ballet, Les Sylphides. Live music for one piece will be provided by BSB Music Director Eric Valinsky and soprano Stephanie Sivers.

“One thing I feel committed to as a director, especially for this type of event, is showing a diversity of culture,” said Diamond. “One of our company members, Rachel Kaltenbach, happens to be really well-educated in Afro-Brazilian dance, so she is going to perform that along with live drummers. Our goal is to look at dance very broadly.”

In addition to BSB’s company members, Bay Area guest artist Jekyns Pelaez (of Diablo Ballet) will appear with the company for the second time.

“It’s a very welcoming atmosphere, very informal,” said Diamond. “We talk about the dances, let people ask questions, give their feedback about what they’re seeing. I try to help people see the difference between a classical work and a more contemporary one, for example.”

And just when the little ones start to get restless, kids from Roosevelt Elementary School, where BSB is now in residence, will participate in a short dance workshop as part of the event. All children are welcome to join in as well. Afterward, stay for a reception with treats, courtesy Tuttini’s and Coffee Cat.

“The idea is to start to engage the community in dance in a way we haven’t seen done before,” said Diamond, “and in doing so, allow the company to become more a part of the community.”


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