Over the course of several seasons at the Lobero Theater the Santa Barbara Centre for Aerial Dance has developed both an enthusiastic audience for this singular art form and a distinctive aesthetic the puts floor-based movement on a nearly equal footing with the more dramatic suspended activities. This year’s program focused on the talents of Santa Barbara dancers and choreographers exclusively, demonstrating the wealth of resources aerial dance has gained through the continuous operation of SBCAD.
The opener, “Haven,” featured choreography by SBCAD founder Ninette Paloma and performer Simon Solberg, and was inspired by a collaboration with fabric artist Tamika Rivera. Rivera created the brightly colored “hive” in which the piece was gestated and performed. Rachna Hailey’s corde lisse work in “Haven” was breathtaking, as were each of the individual routines performed by Olivia Powell, Lydia Johnson, Lucia Metcalfe, Kara Le, and Mariah Slechter. It was especially delightful to see the way the piece incorporated Rivera’s fabrics and the Centre’s youngest performers into one shimmering, transcendent moving image.
The evening’s second piece, “In Utero,” by Robin Bisio and Shelby Lynn Joyce, put dancer Kaita Mrazek in dialogue with a trio of expert aerialists. More meditative than the works on either side of it, “In Utero” showed the subtlety possible in relations between floor and air work. The raucous finale, a tribute to the city of Chicago by Ninette Paloma, gave Emily Auman a chance to shine as soloist to a score dominated by the great Duke Ellington orchestra. The speech-like mute work of trumpeter Bubber Miley lent a gritty sensuality to this marvelous piece.