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For four days last week, contemporary dance’s transportive abilities were in full effect on the Hatlen stage as Santa Barbara Dance Theater rolled out one of their strongest programs to date: a smart, tightly edited, and thoughtful reflection on the kinetic and emotional implications of bodies as narrators.
From Stephanie Miracle’s punchy and measured patterns of gesture and repetition in “1221 Primrose Ln.,” a Technicolor consideration of gender roles and relationships that felt at once current and retro, to Nancy Colahan’s “A Trio of Glass Etudes,” which suspended audiences in a wistful trance of contours and shadows and shimmering fabric, with individual men’s and women’s sections that energized the cadenced landscape, to a formidable showing from soloist Joyceline Fekete, each of the four dance works elevated the next to rousing success.
After a swift intermission, Jennifer Muller’s “Miserere Nobis” filled the stage with an affecting study of grief and humanity in the spirit of Japanese butoh, with dancers clad in minimalist bandeau tops and crimson stockings against a focused light that transformed their feet into a haunting river of blood, followed by the evening’s closer: Christopher Pilafian’s ricocheting “Chrometrics,” where a flowing exchange of life force was transferred from dancer to dancer with mounting precision and revelry against a vibrant palette of color and graphics.
SBDT’s latest effort is a strengthening reminder that concert dance can be engaging, stimulating, and just long enough to leave the audience fulfilled and hungry for more.