For this year’s fundraiser in support of The Dance Hub on East Victoria Street, American Dance & Music is hosting an event honoring the career of Santa Barbara resident and former professional dancer Albert Reid.
On the evening of October 11, the event titled “Albert Reid: A Tribute to His Illustrious Life in Modern Dance” will take a retrospective look at the 85-year-old’s dance work from his time touring with the New York-based Merce Cunningham Dance Company to his appearance in the D.A. Pennebaker documentary film “Rainforest.” The Dance Hub’s artistic director Carrie Diamond will present the tribute to Mr. Reid, who she described as “the only one of my students that has the keys to the studio.”
The two met in 2005, the year Ms. Diamond started teaching dance in Santa Barbara, and Mr. Reid has taken her ballet class ever since. Though Mr. Reid is technically her student, Ms. Diamond said doesn’t usually think of him as such, but rather as an “inspiring mentor.”
She added, “He’s the most dedicated, committed, dancer and student you could ever ask for.”
Having made many friends in Santa Barbara’s dance community over the 20 years he’s lived here, Mr. Reid was pleased that they decided to throw a “culminating celebration” for him. In an interview with the News-Press, Mr. Reid said that he began dancing later in life than most people, at the age of 23. Though he performed in musicals while attending Stanford University, Mr. Reid had no technical training and didn’t seriously start learning dance until after graduating.
He recalled, “First I just was taking it out of interest, and it just developed that I was good enough to be chosen for a company within a year.”
After working for several dance companies in New York City under figures like Yvonne Rainer, Mr. Reid started working under Merce Cunningham in 1964. The October 11 celebration will cover his four-year tenure dancing with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, which included the organization’s first 6-month world tour in 1964. During his final year with the company, Mr. Reid danced in the first performance of Merce Cunningham’s piece “Rainforest,” captured in documentarian D.A. Pennebaker’s 1968 film of the same name, which will be screened during the fundraiser.
Featuring music direction by composer John Cage and set design by artist Andy Warhol, the film features a duet performance between Mr. Reid and dancer Carolyn Brown, who was an early muse of Mr. Cunningham, according to a press release. As Mr. Reid recalls, Mr. Pennebaker captured his and his fellow dancers’ performances with three cameras and the resultant film was not a straightforward record of the dance.
“It’s not sequentially exactly the way the dance was, but it was interesting,” he said.
When asked what he loves most about dancing, Mr. Reid called it a “freeing and liberating” experience and described controlling his body’s movement through space as “exhilarating.”
“It’s challenging and if you can meet the challenge, it’s very satisfying,” he added.
In addition to Mr. Reid sharing memories from his dancing career, the fundraiser will also feature a solo performance by Santa Barbara Dance Theater’s Robin Wilson to choreography by Indy Award-winning choreographer Weslie Ching. Original art pieces will be sold during the event’s silent auction and tapas and libations will be served.Tickets for the event range between $100 and $250 and can be purchased online at www.adam-bsb.org, with all proceeds going toward The Dance Hub and its community-based activities. The Dance Hub is located at 22 E. Victoria St.