From the royal court Minuet dances of 17th-century France to the spirited Passinho steps blazing through Brazil’s favelas today, social dancing has endured the shifts and shuffles of economic and social changes throughout history, preserving the ethos and values of communities the globe over. The seemingly benign set of steps and kicks carry with them the weight of nationality and time, making their way across continents and centuries to tell an enriching and cultural story.

Santa Barbara has long enjoyed a vigorous group of social dance enthusiasts intent on keeping the embers of historical dance alit, with studios and forums dedicated to this community-driven genre. From fox-trot to Argentine tango, through recreational and competitive platforms, the art form lives on for new generations to relish.

This weekend (and just in time for Valentine’s Day,) 25 dancers and a handful of musicians and singers will reconvene at Center Stage Theater for the second annual Colors of Love showcase, a dazzling presentation directed by professional ballroom dancer Yulia Maluta that brings modern and traditional forms of social dancing together for an evening of “human expression and the celebration of life,” says Maluta.

Highlights will include the venerable Hector Sanchez and his electric Latin jazz number set to a live rendition of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good,” as well as Vanessa Isaac Dance Company’s samba prowess, complete with shimmering costumes and infectious rhythms. A contemporary burlesque number performed by The Dance Network, and torch singing by Joanna Lynn-Jacobs with piano accompaniment by John Douglas, will round out the evening’s eclectic offerings.

“I am so privileged to be part of such a diverse and supportive dance community here in Santa Barbara,” stresses Maluta, who emigrated to the city in 1997 from her hometown of St. Petersburg, Russia. “Social dance is a way to come together and freely share our emotions and dreams together, and Colors of Love is the result of that trust.”

Colors of Love performs on Saturday, February 11, at Center Stage Theater (751 Paseo Nuevo) at 8 p.m. Call (805) 963-0408 or visit


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