Santa Barbara Dance Art’s Annual Show celebrates a positive outlook, features student choreographers
Center Stage Theater continues to be the center of dance this week and next in Santa Barbara after the engrossing and wide ranging HH11 Dance Festival finished up. One of the companies that performed–Santa Barbara Dance Arts–led by one of its Apogee Award winners, Alana Tillim, returns for five performances starting this Saturday and running through next Sunday. “Configuration” is the annual showcase put on by this teen company, and has been a fixture on the scene since 2000. Thousands upon thousands of dancers have worked under Dance Arts’ roof, and this year’s group shows that teens are heading in the right direction. As Tillim explains it, teen girls (and SBDA is mostly girls, with a scattering of boys) face more external and internal pressures than ever before.
Her dancers have gone through trauma from natural disasters and otherwise, and dance has been their refuge.
Tillim expects dedication and gets it: these are teens that train up to 10 hours per week in between maintaining high grades and volunteering in the community. Part of their work with The Arts Mentorship Program also produces a video for the end of the evening, in front of which the teens also speak about the meaning of dance in their lives. Support helps scholarships to more vulnerable students, and Tillim says she hopes that this gives them skills that they can then take with them.
“We’re creating the next generation of philanthropists,” she says. “And we now have alumna that are donors and clients. It comes full circle, because (SBDA) defined their childhood and helped them through their darkest hours.”
To help speak to that, five numbers in the show are student works, choreographed by the dancers, mentored by Tillim and others. (The winning piece out of five earns the choreographer $250.)
“They have such complex and incredible minds,” Tillim says. “It shows how dance has helped heal them through such trying times.”
Mille Reitherman has created the piece about living in the middle of chaos called “The Tempest”; Frankie Harman dances solo in a piece called “Sound and Color”; Mia Farrar and Rose Barton have teamed up for a work exploring loss called “Amen”; Emily Cornejo explores femininty on the threshold of adulthood called “Intertwined”; and another duet by Quincy Spaulding and Mykenzie Kangas have a work on anxiety called “Radical Self”.
The show also features works by Tillim and fellow choreographers Brittany Sandoval, Chloe Roberts, and Lauren Serrano.
Sandoval creates family-friendly hip hop routines that “defy gravity and are really cool” says Tillim. Sandoval is also a SBDA alum and teaches 25 classes a week. Roberts’ work has won SBDA many awards out on the road at competitions and like to tackle serious or fun subjects–this year it’s a piece devoted to Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust”; and Lauren Serrano has a piece celebrating “the Happiest Place on Earth” that she co-created with Tillim called “Once Upon a Dream”. And Janaya Cradle, also the captain of the UCSB dance team, has a piece celebrating Aretha Franklin (“Every Woman”).
Two choreographers from Los Angeles are also helping out. Phil Wright has a huge YouTube following–each video of his group dance routines earned 4 million views easily. And Richard Elszy opens the show with “Rainbow,” which uses Hoberman spheres in its hopeful and happy routine.
“Last year was really heavy, (with works about) suicide and tragedy,” says Tillim. “And this year feels a little more lighter and a little more hopeful.”
SANTA BARBARA DANCE ARTS: CONFIGURATION
When: 7 p.m. This Saturday, Friday March 15 and Saturday March 16; 2 p.m. This Sunday and next Saturday, March 16
Where: Center Stage Theater, Paseo Nuevo, Upstairs
Cost: $25/$17Information: http://www.centerstagetheater.org/ or (805) 963-0408