State Street Ballet interprets AVA Santa Barbara and Pali Wine Co. in Funk Zone performance on May 29.
Courtesy Photo

Would you like a chassé with your chardonnay? A glissade with your grenache? A pas de poisson with your pinot? State Street Ballet will be employing these and other steps in an inventive Funk Zone soiree on May 29 in the gray modernist building that houses AVA Santa Barbara and Pali Wine Co., where, in what appears to be a completely novel creation, dance will be used to interpret wine.

“The dancers are going to make us feel what the wines taste like,” said Teri Jory, a State Street Ballet supporter who is organizing the “Funk Zone Style” event, which will showcase two wines each from AVA and Pali while raising money for scholarships to help dancers attend summer workshops. “This is the first time this has ever been done.”

When she sips wine, Jory explained, “I don’t think grapefruit or citrus, but I do think grand jeté or pirouette. I think movement.” Ballerina Leila Drake Fossek agrees and has wanted to pair wine with dance for some time. “I try to think about on what occasion I’d be drinking this wine,” she said of her interpretive process. “Is it a bad breakup or something happy, like a party? It’s more of the emotional side.” Dancer Ryan Camou tries to envision an entire experience around a given wine, such as a couple’s evening at home, where a brief spat gets romantically resolved. “This dance will definitely have its steamy moments,” said Camou.

The $75 event, whose tagline is “cool, trendy, and sexy fun,” will also feature tapas, guitarist Chris Fossek, DJ Empty Priest, and the chance to get your tintype portrait taken by photographer Lindsey Ross. In between the four dances, which will occur every half hour or so from 7-10 p.m. on a stage being built in the middle of the courtyard, guests will be encouraged to explore the building, which is located at the corner of Anacapa and Yanonali streets, while sipping on the chosen Pali and AVA wines.

“I’ve certainly never had any of our wines interpreted by dance,” confirmed Magan Eng, co-owner of AVA Santa Barbara with her husband, Seth Kunin, who both live upstairs from the tasting room. “And we really want people to get the vibe of the building.”

In a town where wine’s been paired with most everything else imaginable, the collaboration certainly gets top marks for originality, and it will definitely be a memorable affair. As Jory promised, “I guarantee that when our guests drink that wine again, they’re going to think about that dance.”



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