Santa Barbara Dance Arts/Arts Mentorship Program Shines in ‘Configuration’
Performances Continue Through March 18 at Center Stage Theater
The 25th annual Configuration show presents a gorgeous array of dances performed by the combined companies of Santa Barbara Dance Arts (SBDA). Playing at Center Stage Theater through March 18, the young dancers are talented and energetic, and the choreography — by staff, guests, and students — is fresh and innovative. There are more than two dozen dance pieces on the program, but as they are relatively brief, the show moves along energetically.
In an effective opening piece, titled “You,” dancers wear leotards that say “ME” under shirts that say “YOU” and utilize this labeling in clever ways as the group dynamics shift.
There is a satisfying range of music used here — from the hip-hop tunes surely favored by the young dancers to old-time gems like “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” In the surprising middle era are songs from Billy Joel, Carole King, and INXS.
A very special part of this show is the “Pride Video Advocacy Project,” a video directed by René García Hernández. To the song “Rainbow Reign” by Todrick Hall, the video features SBDA students dancing in locations around town, including the middle of State Street, and also includes cameos by some of Santa Barbara’s premiere drag queens.
The finale is a gratifying tribute to Lin-Manuel Miranda conceived by Company Director Alana Tillim, with five video clips followed by dance numbers. Starting off with Hamilton, of course, the dancers also celebrate Miranda’s work in Mary Poppins Returns, Moana, and the song “Love Make the World Go Round,” which he created with Jennifer Lopez in response to the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting.
Configuration ends with a dazzling, colorful number from Encanto, another animated musical featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda, where the already crackling energy level soars to even greater heights, and the audience is left with a deep and abiding sense of these young dancers’ joy.