Mark Dendy
Courtesy Photo

Spring has officially sprung, and Santa Barbara dance fans know what that means: DANCEworks is about to usher in a fresh new season.

Starting next Monday, March 31, New York-based choreographer Mark Dendy and his company will spend one month in residence on the Lobero stage, creating an evening-length work of dance theater. They’ll be crafting a piece called Dystopian Distractions; a darkly comic work of social commentary that considers contemporary American culture, from the cult of celebrity to the machinery of war.

As in years past, locals have a chance to join the professional dancers onstage for the culminating performance. Yet instead of appearing in a short segment of the production, community members will be woven throughout the work.

Back in February, Dendy spent one week in town selecting dancers of all ages to join in rehearsals; if you missed the boat and want to take part, there may still be a few spaces. (Email for info.) For those who’d rather dip into the creative process, there are multiple opportunities: a master class on Monday, April 7, and a “Friday Club” for those who donate $50 or more to watch rehearsal and chat with the artists at the end of each week (April 4, 11, and 18). Those who have taken part in past residencies should mark their calendars for Friday, April 18, when there will be a DANCEworks reunion party.

And anyone who supports the arts in Santa Barbara belongs at the culminating performance on Saturday, April 26, to witness the intensely athletic, wildly irreverent results. It’s rare indeed for a choreographer to spend a full month in the theater to develop new work; to be part of DANCEworks is to participate in the legacy of American dance making. For tickets, call (805) 963-0761 or visit To learn more about DANCEworks, check out, and for more on Mark Dendy Projects, head to


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