Colors of Sensuality
Where: Center State Theater
When: Aug. 17
Tickets: $35 advance; $40 at doors
Information: 805-963-0408 or transformthroughartstheater.org
Through dance and music, Colors of Sensuality will embrace sensuality and femininity at the Center Stage Theater. This show will dazzle its audience with Argentine tango, belly dancing, burlesque and pole art. Such dancing in some parts of the world (in the past and the present) would be censured, and one of the organizers Yulia Maluta, who is also a dancer herself, knows all too well the effects of a censure.
A native of St. Petersburg, Ms. Maluta grew up in Russia when it was known as the Soviet Union during the Iron Curtain, a cultural barrier that cut off the USSR and its satellite states from the rest of the world.
“It was kind of depressing to be honest,” Ms. Maluta recalled. “There was a shortage of everything.”
What brought life for Ms. Maluta during this time was a music video.
Around 1990, the Iron Curtain slowly but surely began to deteriorate, and among the things that rushed in as the curtain began to crack was the video for “Lambada,” a song by a French Brazilian band by the name of Kaoma.
In the music video, people are dancing lambada, a type of Brazilian dancing that involves heavy swaying of hips between a couple. Ms. Maluta saw the video as a teenager in a discotech and was instantly entranced.
“It was like a breath of fresh air,” said Ms. Maluta.
Immediately after seeing the video, Ms. Maluta enrolled herself in latin dancing classes, and she found her joy in life.
“It was almost saving my life,” she said. “I could feel hope for my life through dance.”
Ms. Maluta let that joy and hope guide her, and now she is a professional dance teacher. She is also the creative director and producer at the Transform Through Arts Theater, the producer behind Colors of Sensuality.
With the show on Aug. 17 and her career, Ms. Maluta is challenging what empowerment of women entails.
For Ms. Maluta, it is dismaying that “the businesswoman is considered more empowered than a belly dancer,” but she believes it is equally important to be empowered by embracing one’s sensuality.
“It’s a different time where we can embrace the femininity,” said Ms. Maluta. “It’s an essence of woman. We have our own centers as women. We don’t have to become somebody who we’re not, like emasculating ourselves.”
To the critics who would say that placing women on a stage for belly dancing and pole art is actually not women empowerment, Ms. Maluta would explain that empowerment is about honoring.
“Empowerment is honoring ourselves as women,” she said. “We don’t have to shut it down and be emasculated. We’re honoring our femininity. We’re leading the world by not trying to be masculine.”
Ms. Maluta acknowledged though that sensuality and empowerment are fluid ideas that are not straightforward.
“It’s paradoxical,” she said.
Colors of Sensuality will play a role in exploring these paradoxes.
There are about 40 dancers from Just Baila, Seventh Dimension Dance, Daisy Dance, Kat D hoops, Sino West Performing Arts, MC Beth Amine and Ms. Maluta’s Tango L’amore. The singers include Harry Garret and Kanga LaVrado. Opera singer Eduardo Villa was slated to perform but will no longer be doing so.
Colors of Sensuality is a spinoff of Colors of Love, the show that Transform Through Arts Theater has put on annually for the past six years. Colors of Love usually happens the weekend before Valentine’s Day, getting lovers in the mood.
Ms. Maluta told the News-Press that about a quarter of the profits from the show will be contributed to Art Without Limits, a Santa Barbara-based arts nonprofit.