Teamwork has always been at the heart of Nebula Dance Lab, but next week the Santa Barbara dance company is taking that collaborative spirit to new realms. Starting Thursday, October 9, and stretching through the weekend, the group will present Dreamscape, a multipart, evening-length production that attempts to “explore the inner landscape at work within the dream world,” explained executive director Devyn Duex.
While Dreamscape brings with it a number of firsts for the four-year-old company, the show’s biggest milestone goes back to its start. Nebula has always prided itself on being a collaborative force, but Dreamscape found the company pushing those joint efforts further than ever before.
“Our foundation has always been based on a lab environment, where collaboration and experimentation thrive,” said Duex. “But this season, our repertory expanded by extending the collaboration to involve everyone, and in this case, the largest transformation of our process was including the choreography in this collaborative approach. Dancers became choreographers, directors, and more. The entire piece was developed internally by the company and two guest choreographers.”
Dancer Meghan Morelli came up with the initial idea behind Dreamscape, recalled Duex, who said that the concept of dreaming “seemed to lend itself well to a fully collaborative process.” From there, the company worked together to discuss, storyboard, and workshop Dreamscape’s 14 subsections. “The process was built on respect, ability to share ideas freely, experimentation without judgment, and a lot of laughing,” said Duex, who also notes that this is the first time the company is actively incorporating humor and whimsy into a production. “We spent a lot of time talking through the reality of each moment and learning to understand that playing true to the reality is what creates truly humorous experiences.”
But the list of firsts doesn’t stop there. Dreamscape finds Nebula employing an original score for the first time, too, thanks to musician and arranger William Pasley. “It’s a ‘dream’ for any company,” laughed Duex, who said that Pasley has been working closely with the company since the early stages of production. “Every time we get a new sound, it does provide an opportunity to inform the choreography in a new way,” she explained. “It might allow a dancer to take some of the movement into a new texture or intention than initially anticipated. It has definitely kept the process fresh throughout.”
In keeping with Nebula’s long-standing history of community outreach, the company will also be staging a free matinee performance for underserved youth in Santa Barbara County. Thanks to the help of the High Tide Foundation and Dan and Katherine Gunther, 130 children will not only see Dreamscape but also participate in a post-show Q&A and a company-led workshop.
As for what Duex hopes the kids (and adults) take away from Dreamscape, it’s simple: “We just hope audiences will be transported, trigger memories, spark imaginations — inspire.”
Nebula Dance Lab presents Dreamscape at Center Stage Theater (751 Paseo Nuevo) Thursday-Sunday, October 9-12. Call (805) 963-0408 or visit centerstagetheater.org for tickets and info.