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The NutCracker, presented by State Street Ballet.

Playing with tradition is a bold move, and one Rodney Gustafson, artistic director of State Street Ballet, is not afraid to try. Last weekend, the company presented its annual holiday production-a 1930s Hollywood twist on The Nutcracker.

Les Patineurs and The Night Before Christmas

Santa Barbara has proved itself as a world-class venue for the arts, but any town can import talent. This past weekend, the city got a chance to see its domestic artistic accomplishments as two preprofessional ballet companies put on their annual Christmas spectacles.

The Nutcracker, presented by Santa Barbara Ballet Center.

For regional devotees of Christmas’s most popular ballet, the question has become how to distinguish one Nutcracker from another. Santa Barbara Ballet Center’s version, performed annually at the Arlington Theatre, has become a holiday tradition for many Santa Barbara families.

Through Darkness and Light

Audiences witnessed all sorts of choreographic statements this weekend when undergrads in UCSB’s Dance Department showcased their original work at Hatlen Theatre. The show, called Through Darkness and Light, explored dramatic themes through choreography that ranged from playful to moving. The inconsistency of dancers and styles of movement, however, fell just short of full realization.

UCSB Dance Professor Tonia Shimin Directs Her Final Concert

“Through darkness and light”-it sounds like a wedding vow, but it’s the name of UCSB’s fall dance concert, opening this Friday at the Hatlen Theatre. It’s no coincidence that the name conjures both the mercurial quality of human experience and the commitment it takes to stick with it; the works included touch on everything from love and grace to insanity and death.

Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie.

Montreal-based dance company Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie made its California debut at Campbell Hall on Friday night, delivering high-energy artistry and engaging the audience in ways rarely seen at dance performances.

The Whirling Dervishes of Turkey.

Led by a 22nd-generation descendant of Sufi mystic Mevl•na Jal•ludd®n Rumi, the Mevlevi Order of Whirling Dervishes brought their ancient ritual to a modern audience last Tuesday at Campbell Hall. Whirling, or spinning in place, is only one element of a seven-part ritual of ecstatic connection with the divine and with all humanity, one that begins and ends with prayer, and includes instrumental music.

The World’s a Dance for Bill Coleman and Laurence Lemieux

For many who pursue the creative life, it’s the ultimate dream: marrying a fellow artist. For Bill Coleman and Laurence Lemieux, it’s an obvious union-dance and family are the primary languages they use to engage with the world.

I.V. Live Presents Buck World One

Bring on da noise, bring on da buck. That’s right, buck. Not funk. This Saturday night is all about “getting buck,” as the Buck World One performance shakes, shimmies, and slides into town.

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