Last year’s shattering natural disasters had a profound effect on the work being created by Santa Barbara artists. Programs such as Configuration, Santa Barbara Dance Arts’ annual showcase of new work, reflected the moody angst of a community struggling to overcome tragedy. This week, Configuration is back at Center Stage Theater with a fresh lineup of work in a variety of styles that suggests a brighter, more colorful outlook. “Last year was an emotional time,” said Santa Barbara Dance Arts owner and Configuration director Alana Tillim. “This year it feels like we’re lifting up.”
This week’s performance features the up-and-coming generation of dance students, ranging in ages from 10 to 17 years old. These dancers are dedicated to their craft, often putting 10-15 hours a week or more into refining and developing their work. The numbers chosen for this year’s program indicate sophistication beyond the dancers’ young ages; pieces such as “Rainbow” offer a succinct emotional arc that dancer Frankie Harman describes as “getting to a place where you can really be yourself. The entire piece is the process of getting there and finally reaching that place.”
The program continues in this theme, expressing the voices of these young dancers through the language of movement. Along with student-devised work, Configuration features choreography by area dance artists Brittany Sandoval, Chloe Roberts, Lauren Serrano, and Alana Tillim, and L.A. choreographers Phil Wright and Richard Elszy. The SBDA artists have also created a short film focusing on female empowerment, a concept that the dancers are embodying within their arts education and perpetuating into the community with the presentation of their work.
Configuration is presented in collaboration with the Arts Mentorship Program, an organization that offers financial assistance and mentorship to community members seeking an education in the arts. This showcase runs March 9-10 and March 15-16 at Center Stage Theater (751 Paseo Nuevo). Call 963-0408 or see centerstagetheater.org.