The art of classical ballet, with its five positions, its formal technicalities, and its emphasis on flowing movement and weightlessness, forms the foundation for contemporary dance. Even the most innovative, radical modern dance choreographers work in relation to this fundamental technique, whether or not their work appears balletic. This season, Santa Barbara gets a taste of the art form in all its guises. Canada’s national ballet company, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, perfectly exemplifies the meeting of classical tradition and contemporary innovation with its performance of Ohad Naharin’s playful, emotionally charged Minus One, an evening-length work that promises to leave a lasting impact.
Cirque loize’s Rain
Back at the Lobero after a wildly enthusiastic reception in 2005, Rain combines acrobatics and acting, bringing the circus tent to the stage. Montreal’s Cirque loize joins forces with Italian writer and director Daniele Finzi Pasca, whose eye for the nostalgic and photographic lends a deeply emotional quality to the more physical aspects of circus art. The international cast of performers is a multitalented crew including musicians, gymnasts, jugglers, contortionists, comedians, and dancers. Thu., Mar. 22 and Fri., Mar. 23, 8pm. Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St. Call 963-0761 or visit lobero.com.
State Street Ballet’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
State Street Ballet’s own Marina Fliagina, ballet mistress and Russian-trained dancer, choreographs this full-length, family-friendly fairy tale. The ballet is an adaptation of the Grimm Brothers’ tale, although this version is considerably more family-friendly than the original. The production includes original music by Bodgan Pawloski as well as music by Karen Surenvich Khathaturian. Sat., Mar. 31, 7pm and Sun., Apr. 1, 2pm. Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St. Call 963-0761 or visit lobero.com.
UCSB’s Spring Dance Concert
UCSB has long been recognized for having a rigorous dance training program, but the university also produces new modern dance choreography every term. This season’s departmental performance showcases the work of both faculty and student choreographers, as well as a student company performance of At Last It’s Clear, choreographed by guest artist Keith Johnson. Students showing work in this show are eligible to compete for the Corwin Award for choreography. Fri., Apr. 13 and Sat., Apr. 14, 8pm; Sun., Apr. 15, 2pm. UCSB’s Hatlen Theatre. Call 893-3535 or visit www.artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.
Emio Greco | PC
When avant garde Italian choreographer Emio Greco began working with Dutch theater producer Pieter C. Scholten, he knew he’d found a natural collaborator. The result is a body of innovative research performance that’s avant garde, highly cerebral, and deeply stimulating. Their Double Points trilogy explores the interplay between movement, music, and electronic impulse. In April, they bring to Campbell Hall the concluding segment of the trilogy, Double Points: Narrow, which incorporates a full cast of dancers and points the way to a new body of works with dynamic movement and extreme lighting effects. Tue., Apr. 17, 8pm. UCSB’s Campbell Hall. Call 893-3535 or visit www.artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.
Les Grands Ballets Canadiens
Currently marking its 50th year, Montreal-based ensemble Les Grands Ballets Canadiens is Canada’s premiere ballet troupe and one of the most innovative classical companies on the international stage. Its repertoire is prolific, and its dancers are of the highest caliber. They will perform Minus One, an 80-minute piece by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, of whom Deborah Jowitt of the Village Voice has written, “If you could hold one of Ohad Naharin’s dances in your hand, it would feel smooth. Think of a polished stone. It looks like a piece of secret sculpture, but hurl it and it becomes a weapon.” On April 8, the company will teach two master classes in association with the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance. Mon., Apr. 9, 8pm. Arlington Theatre. Call 893-3535 or visit www.artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.
SBDA Dance Day
In celebration of 28 years of service, the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance sponsors a day of $1 dance classes open to the entire community. Participating studios will offer 50-minute, beginning-level classes in a variety of dance styles. Proceeds from the event will go to SBDA’s scholarship fund. Sun., Apr. 22, 11am-3pm. Various locations. Call 966-6950 or visit sbdancealliance.org.
Compa±-a Nacional de Danza 2
Unlike its European neighbors France and Italy, Spain doesn’t have its own extensive ballet history. For Nacho Duato, the artistic director of Spain’s Compa±-a Nacional de Danza 2, this is a mixed blessing; it forces him to build on more modern foundations. The company is known for using classical formalism to arrive at a strikingly contemporary aesthetic. Though it commissions work by internationally acclaimed choreographers, much of the repertoire, including its program in Santa Barbara in May, is Duato’s work. Tue., May 15, 8pm. UCSB’s Campbell Hall. Call 893-3535 or visitwww.artsandlectures.ucsb.edu.
On the Verge
This annual showcase of young choreographic talent is one of the highlights of the year for the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance. Under the guidance of mentors, 25 preprofessional teen choreographers and technical theater students and more than 75 teen dancers come together to produce original dance works in a professional theater setting. Sat., May 26, 8pm. Marjorie Luke Theatre, 721 E. Cota St. Call 966-6950 or visit sbdancealliance.org.