Renowned international dance company Ballet Hispanico will help kick off the new year at UC Santa Barbara, offering free instruction to dance students as well as free performances and classes in the community. Their appearance comes courtesy of alumnus John Arnhold, class of 1975, and his wife, Jody, herself a veteran dance teacher and passionate advocate for dance education.
A six-figure gift from the Arnholds will fund the residency by New York-based Ballet Hispanico –– the nation’s premier Latino dance ensemble –– that also includes outreach to area schools. Their arrival launches a new season of ¡Viva el Arte de Santa Barbara!, a multi-organization collaboration to bring free music and dance from diverse traditions to venues and schools across the county.
Ballet Hispanico’s visit will feature family shows in Isla Vista, Guadalupe, and downtown Santa Barbara; free classes in Latin social dance in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria and Guadalupe; and assemblies at nine local schools. The ensemble will also instruct UCSB dance students in ballet and modern technique, and give them a private showcase.
Such community connections are a priority for the 12-member company, which preserves and celebrates today’s Latino cultures through innovative artistic collaborations, world-class dance training, and national education and outreach efforts. Led by artistic director Eduardo Vilaro, who is credited with steering the company to new ground with innovative new programs, Ballet Hispanico has performed in 11 countries on three continents. It boasts dancers from the U.S., Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, and Italy, whose collective repertory blends Latin dance with ballet and modern techniques.
Jody Gottfried Arnhold is a Ballet Hispanico board member, most recently serving as its chair. The group paid her special tribute at a recent gala celebrating its new season. A dance teacher in New York City’s public school system for nearly 25 years –– and a champion for dance education –– Arnhold received the National Dance Education Organization’s Visionary Award in 2009. She is founding director of the 92 Street Y’s Dance Education Laboratory, and co-chair of a committee to draft the New York City Department of Education Curriculum Blueprint for Teaching & Learning in Dance. She partners in several efforts to recruit and support certified dance teachers in New York, and chairs the Hunter College Dance Education Advisory Committee. She earned a master’s degree in dance education from Columbia University’s Teachers College.
Arnhold, who earned a bachelor’s degree in English from UCSB, is a trustee of the UC Santa Barbara Foundation. The Arnholds have been generous benefactors of the English department since 2005. For the last three years, they have supported UCSB dance students participating in the 92nd Street Y Summer Intensive Dance program in New York.
Ballet Hispanico’s three free family shows will be held at:
» Isla Vista School –– Friday, Jan. 11, 7 p.m., 6875 El Colegio Road, Isla Vista; 805.893.5037 for information
» Guadalupe City Hall –– Saturday, Jan. 12, 7:30 p.m., 918 Obispo St,, Guadalupe; 805.343.2939 for information
» Santa Barbara Junior High Marjorie Luke Theatre –– Sunday, Jan. 13, 7 p.m., 721 E. Cota St., Santa Barbara; 805.884.4087 x7 for information
Free Latin social dance classes will be held at:
» La Cumbre Junior High –– Thursday, Jan. 10, 7 to 8:30 p.m., 2255 Modoc Road, Santa Barbara
» Abel Maldonado Youth Center –– Saturday, Jan. 12, noon to 1 p.m., 600 S. McClelland St., Santa Maria
» El Padrecito’s Dance Studio –– Saturday, Jan. 12, noon to 1 p.m., and 1:15 to 2:15 p.m., 950A Guadalupe St., Guadalupe
» Santa Barbara Junior High –– Sunday, Jan. 13, 1 to 2 p.m., 721 E. Cota St., Santa Barbara
¡Viva el Arte de Santa Barbara! is a cooperative program of the Marjorie Luke Theatre, the Guadalupe Cultural Arts & Education Center, Isla Vista School and UCSB Arts & Lectures. In 2011, it was recognized by the National Association of Performing Arts Presenters as one of two exemplary outreach programs in the nation.