State Street Ballet ends season with dances from ‘Don Quixote,’ ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and more
The “Don Quixote” pas de deux has been dancer Marika Kobayashi’s big dream since she was 5 years old.
Now 26, an ecstatic Ms. Kobayashi will get to perform it as part of a diverse State Street Ballet show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St.
The dancers will step up to perform everything from an iconic Aaron Copland work to dances inspired by Lawrence Welk’s champagne music and hip hop, along with a “Romeo and Juliet” balcony pas de deux.
That’s a lot of passion and energy in one show, which will also celebrate the end of this State Street Ballet season and the company’s 27-year history. On top of that, the Santa Barbara performance will honor local philanthropists in the arts community.
There’s no doubt the show will be romantic.
“I’m performing the wedding scene, a very happy scene,” Ms. Kobayashi told the News-Press this week about the “Don Quixote” pas de deux.
“I’ve been wanting to dance this specific duet since I was 5,” said Ms. Kobayashi, who was born in Saitama, Japan, and started dance lessons at age 2.
“I can’t remember how many times I’ve watched it,” she said about the “Don Quixote” duet. “It’s really passionate and very stylized. You have to make it look sassy.”
Ms. Kobayashi will portray the character Kitri in the dance, choreographed by Marius Petipa and Alexander Gorsky.
“She is very strong, very playful,” Ms. Kobayashi said. “It fits me great, I think. My personality is like that in my private life. It comes very naturally to me.”
During the dance, Ms. Kobayashi will make romantic eye contact with her Cuban dance partner, Harold Mendez, who will play Kitri’s lover, Basil.
“Everyone’s watching you, and you’re falling in love,” Ms. Kobayshi said.
In addition to “Don Quixote,” the Santa Barbara program will include “Appalachian Spring,” with choreography by William Soleau, State Street Ballet’s co-artistic director and resident choreographer. The costumes, moves and the dance’s tone will complement Copland’s iconic and kinetic score.
“It’s a nice way to start the gala because it’s about two families in the West. It’s beautiful,” said Rodney Gustafson, State Street Ballet’s executive and co-artistic director and founder. “I love ‘Appalachian Spring’ because it tells a story. It tells this story about this man from one family (played by Ryan Lenkey) and a woman from another (portrayed by Emily McKinney).”
Mr. Gustafson choreographed the balcony pas deux from “Romeo and Juliet.” The Shakespearean couple are played by Brazilian dancer Deise Mendonca and guest artist Aaron Smyth, who’s from Australia.
“I did the balcony pas de deux, where they fall in love,” he told the News-Press. “It’s very sentimental, very ethereal.”
When Mr. Gustafson talked about another dance, “Bubbles,” he recalled his childhood.
“I remember when I was a kid growing up. It was the late 1960s, and ‘Lawrence Welk’ was my mother’s favorite show,” Mr. Gustafson said.
“Bubbles” is inspired by ballroom dancing, with the creative twists and turns of a professional ballet company. The choreography is by Laurie Eisenhower.
The gala’s last work, “(con)version,” has a modern vibe. The choreography is by Kassandra Taylor Newberry, and the music is by Thomas Newman and the Junkman.
“It’s not quite hip-hop,” Ms. Kobayashi said. “It has hip-hop pacing in it.”
Ms. Kobayashi, who trained with Epris Ballet Studio, Elmhurst School for Dance in Britain and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s graduate program, joined State Street Ballet in 2015. Since then, her roles have included parts such as Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy in “The Nutcracker.”
“I’m creating my career in Santa Barbara, trying to stay positive and work hard every day,” Ms. Kobayashi said. “I’ve been really lucky to work with the company.
“A lot of the companies like to have the same style, the same height, so the dancers look the same,” the Japanese dancer said. “But with State Street Ballet, everyone’s so different. They’re from different races and different nationalities. That’s really neat.
“I feel I can show my personality on stage and not have to look exactly the same as other dancers,” Ms. Kobayashi said. “Rodney respects the differences among different dancers.”