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One woman began with a vision of bringing dance to Santa Barbara schoolchildren. The other was a circus artist who wanted to teach dancers to fly. Six years later, both are watching their visions soar. In the coming week, there’s a chance to see what these two companies have accomplished since their launch.

1. S.B. Dance Institute’s Imagine That! This Sunday, May 20, at 3 p.m., nearly 300 kids will take the stage at the Marjorie Luke Theatre. They are 3rd and 4th graders from El Camino, Solvang, and Adelante Charter schools, and for the past year, dance has been a regular part of their week, thanks to the Santa Barbara Dance Institute (SBDI). This isn’t just any elementary school dance concert. Rosalina Matthies, founder of SBDI, holds high standards for her students, and the results she gets extend to improved behavior, academic performance, and leadership. The inspiration for this year’s production — Imagine That! — came when Matthies realized she was tired of defending the importance of arts education. “What if we didn’t have creativity; what if there was no dreaming?” she mused. From there, the show developed into a rousing celebration of the imagination and the creative process. Imagine That! will feature a range of popular music, as well as special guests from the community, including Mayor Helene Schneider, Councilmember Grant House, and County Arts Commission director Ginny Brush. For tickets, call 963-0761 or visit For more about the Santa Barbara Dance Institute, visit

2. La Petite Chouette’s Indah: On Tuesday, May 22, at 7 p.m., nine performers will demonstrate the art of aerial dance at the Lobero Theatre. Like SBDI, La Petite Chouette Aerial Arts is celebrating its sixth year, and founder Ninette Paloma has grown her vision from a handful of kids in a loft to a fully dedicated studio offering a range of classes for all ages. She has also built an adult company who will be on stage this week. The show they’ll present is Indah, which means “lovely” in Indonesian, and it’s inspired by the company’s all-female cast. “I decided to take advantage of this luscious, vibrant female strength,” Paloma explained. “We’re testing and poking fun at the female archetype.” The performance will incorporate a variety of aerial apparatus, from the trapeze and the lyra to fabric slings, aerial silks, and ropes. Though aerial dance takes great strength and coordination, Paloma emphasized the emotional challenge as much as the physical. “These pieces are very emotionally charged,” she explained. For tickets, call 963-0761 or visit To learn more about La Petite Chouette, visit


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