Five exciting works on show at SB Dance Theater’s Lobero show
SANTA BARBARA DANCE THEATER
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday
Where: Lobero Theater, 33 E. Canon Perdido
Cost: $21 – $54
Information: (805) 963-0761 or lobero.org
After a year’s absence, Santa Barbara Dance Theater, Christopher Pilafian’s professional company based out of UCSB, returns to the Lobero with one mission: prove the vibrancy of contemporary dance.
“Dance is both part of the human impulse and extremely diverse in its manifestations,” Mr. Pilafian says. “And this program honors both of those things…I’m very impressed with the range.” Likewise, his repertory company shows both diversity and unity in Wednesday and Thursday night’s program, featuring two works from Mr. Pilafian, and three works commissioned by the company.
The oldest work hails from 1998, and is a revisiting of an earlier Mr. Pilafian piece, entitled “Anemone.” Originally, it was created as a showcase for one woman dancer, going through a “psycho-emotional transition” in life, designed for and with dancer and choreographer Nancy Colahan. At that time she was approaching retirement as a dance, but the work showed off her self-possession and self-knowledge, a range of special skills. Mr. Pilafian brought it back when he found another dance with the same kind of physical strength and a background to inspire him: Lauren Serrano, who returned to Santa Barbara to teach at Santa Barbara Dance Arts.
“Ten years ago, or even in 2011, I wouldn’t have imagined her doing this solo then,” Pilafian says. “But now she has life experience to draw from to bring depth and texture to this work.”
And making another return is Mr. Pilafian’s “Chanson,” seen in January performed by the student company, and based on the French singer “Barbara”, featuring seven different versions of her pop hit, tailored to show off each dancer’s unique qualities. “It also promotes each dancer’s personal growth,” he says, “because these women are all getting stronger and more powerful in their dance artistry.”
Andrea Schermoly’s star is rising in the choreography world, written works for The Ashley Bouder Project, members of the New York City Ballet, and for films like “Bunheads” and “Beautiful Now.” She brings “Moonscapes,” originally written for the 2018 season but delayed by the mudslides. (SBDT performed an incomplete version of the piece, but this is the full version.)
“It comes from a space of deep questioning,” he says. “Which is ‘what world am I in now?’ And coming from that she goes to the moon.” The piece is very challenging, very stimulating for the dancers, and Ms. Schermoly has really made that connection with SBDT, exactly the kind of choreographer Mr. Pilafian is looking for.
Faculty member Brandon Whited will also premiere a new work, “95 North,” which alludes to the east-coast interstate that runs from Miami to the border of Maine and Canada. Like that drive, “95 North” is about wanderlust and travel. “But they are also memories for him of international touring and just wanting to see all parts of the world, that desire to do all that. It’s a youthful desire for expanding horizons.”
And finally “Swept In” introduces guest artist Ephrat Asherie, a dancer with Dorrance Dance (also coming to town in May) and a b-girl, hip-hop, and house dance enthusiast with a Bessie Award to her name. Joining her will be members of the UCSB Dance Company who are the “guest company” on the show. However, the company have just come back from Europe, having performed Asherie’s exciting piece (and others) other 20 times.
“Seeing growth is one of the throughlines of what we do,” Mr. Pilafian says. “And having performed it so many times they fully own that experience, and that’s what they have to offer.”