Mariano Silva, Founder/Director of Brazilian Cultural Arts Center of Santa Barbara, with group | Photo: Courtesy

“There are so many shortcuts to happiness, and one of them is dance.”  —Nilay Engin, Turkish dancer

It has been said among folk dancers that you don’t understand someone until you have danced in their shoes. Drumbeat of Humanity: A Celebration of Cultures offers the audience an opportunity to metaphorically dance in the shoes of many cultures, and see the world through their eyes and hearts.

Mariano Silva | Photo: Rob Hoffman

Combining a colorful and passionate documentary with live performances and a fascinating panel discussion, Drumbeat of Humanity will kick off Santa Barbara’s summer season of cultural events with a powerful message of hope on Saturday, June 15 at Center Stage Theater.

The program combines live performances with a documentary, produced by Transform Through Arts, which takes the audience into the multicultural worlds of the performers as they share their art, their philosophy, and their research. Some of the artists will perform music and dance of the cultures in which they were raised, such as Turkish dancer Nilay Engin from Ankara, Turkey. Others will perform music and dance of cultures into which they were not born, but with which they fell in love and dedicated their lives to studying, such as American born musician Chris Cornelius, who will perform Middle Eastern drumming.

In the words of ethnomusicologist John Martin III, one of the featured artists in the film, “Any time you have two cultures together they’re very often that of the colonizer and the oppressed, or the rich and the poor, the foreigner and the native. Music has the ability to balance these polarities and fuse them into something new and beautiful.”

Yulia Maluta and Ron Parker performing Argentine Tango | Photo: Rob Hoffman

Producer Yulia Maluta said her inspiration for this project was the realization that we are at a pivotal point in the evolution of humanity. “On the one hand, we face pain, suffering, and war, and many people lose hope because they focus on this pain. On the other hand, we have so many visionaries who create life affirming art, showing us that we can create our own reality.”

This documentary is meant to focus our attention on positive solutions through making music and dance together.

“I joined Drumbeat of Humanity because I wanted to experience dancing in unison with other dancers to a shared drum beat,” said  Caterina Malinowski, dancer and drummer.

Maluta has chosen an eclectic group of multicultural performers who are rarely seen together in one showcase. The live music and dance performances include Argentine Tango (Maluta with Ron Parker), Flamenco (Flamenco Santa Barbara), Hawaiian (Hula for Everyone), Chinese (Suns Performing Arts), Middle Eastern music (Cornelius Brothers), and Samba (Brazil Cultural Arts Center of Santa Barbara). Terrill Williams will sing the theme song, “Rhythm of Humanity.” Other groups who are featured in the film include Taiko drummers, Aztec dancers and drummers, Afro-Cuban drummers and dancers, Middle Eastern dancers and drummers, as well as those who are performing live in the show.

Whether you are a dancer, musician, scholar, or just love a good show, you will walk away feeling uplifted and inspired!

Drumbeat of Humanity: A Celebration of Cultures takes place at Center Stage Theater on Saturday, June 15 at 7:30 p.m.To purchase tickets see Through the nonprofit Transform Through Arts organization, founder-director Yulia Maluta is offering free tickets to students in K-12. See

Watch the trailer:

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