This Saturday, the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance presents its 16th Annual International Dance Festival, one of the city’s very few locally organized multicultural celebrations. But rather than resting on the festival’s now well-established model, Dance Alliance is pulling out all the stops to make this year’s event one for the record books. With a larger venue, more activities, and a newfound partner (they’re now collaborating with the über popular Moon Over Morocco Festival), this weekend’s gathering promises to be the organization’s best yet. Below you’ll find a rundown of our reasons to attend. The party kicks off at Chase Palm Park (236 Cabrillo Blvd.) on Saturday, August 28 at 11 a.m. and runs to 7 p.m. For more information, call 966-6950, or visit

Courtesy Photo

1. Go Big: For this go-round, the International Dance Festival is taking its party to the spacious Chase Palm Park, meaning lots more room and lots more ways for attendees to get in on the action. And with the new, free-to-the-public admission setup, you can bet the place will be swarming with new faces.

2. Travel the World: As one of the largest ethnic dance festivals on the Central Coast, this weekend’s festivities are certain to bring a world of culture to Santa Barbara. Scheduled performances range from Alma de Mexico’s Mexican folk steps and Melange’s Afro-fusion beats to East India Dance Company’s Bollywood-ready moves and Rhythm Fitness’s hip-hop grooves. Also on board are flamenco groups, Polynesian teams, Afro-Cuban dancers, Irish steppers, and good, ole-fashioned country-western stompers.

3. Bring Something Home: Another expanding element of this year’s program is the festival’s art mart. Boasting culturally diverse crafts and wares from a number of S.B.-based vendors, the festival is reaching even further to “celebrate artistry from around the world.” In addition, the inclusion of the Moon Over Morocco crew means a larger representation of Middle Eastern culture, from food to arts and crafts to dance lessons.

4. Learn Something New: Most importantly, though, Saturday’s event is a rare chance to watch and learn from a bevy of international dance aficionados. Whether you’re classically trained or the proud owner of two left feet, you’ll be encouraged to get out and try some steps with the festival’s participants. And that’s an experience that’s as valuable as they come.


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