On Saturday, you and your friends and relations are all invited to the Anemone Ball.
What’s an Anemone Ball, you ask? This one-of-a-kind plein air dance event will take place below the stairs at Shoreline Park at 4 p.m. Saturday with an extreme low tide courtesy of the full moon.
Choreographer/director Robin Bisio, who just happens to live across the street, is renowned for her site-specific dance pieces, most recently Bees Circling Heaven, an original dance opera staged at Lotusland in April.
Anemone Ball will be danced by Weslie Ching, Kyle Castillo, Monica Ford, Cybil Gilberston and Kaita Lepore Mrazek. Costuming is by Anaya Cullen and live music will be performed by violinist Nicole McKenzie.
I was fortunate enough to sit down with Bisio and find out more about this unique dance piece.
Justine Sutton: Where did the idea come from?
Robin Bisio: I was thinking of the lotus blooming at Lotusland. My first impulse was pink. And then I thought of the pulse and aliveness of Anaya Cullen's costume design. I live on the Pacific and felt it was time to do another plein air dance. What was pink and undulating and gorgeous at the beach? The anemone, a flower of the sea. In some sense, the dancers are anemones and I am fashioning this dance with a lot of partnering, as if at a ball.
JS: What draws you to site-specific dance in the first place?
RB: I love to be outside and love to honor the earth. Nature is always the muse.
JS: What is different about this from other work you've done?
RB: This dance feels very formal, like an opera. It speaks to harmonious elements and romance. It is very tied into its setting, which is what I always aim for, but it seems to be more universal and less specifically my dance vocabulary, which is very satisfying.
JS: What are the satisfactions and challenges of working at this particular location?
RB: This gorgeous group of dancers is very game and thrilled to be on site. At the end of our last rehearsal, on a very hot afternoon, all of them were dripping wet and covered in sand and yet still eloquent in their pink costumed glory. When a bride and groom appeared on the beach for wedding pictures, the dancers decided on a surprise. With laughter and in beauty, they danced for the couple and seemingly for the universals of life and love. The bride cried. It was a glorious moment. My pet peeve is dogs loose on the dancers.
JS: What do you want audience members to take away from this?
RB: The beauty of the sea and the transporting power of dance.
At the Anemone Ball, Bisio will be launching a new book based on her plein air work in performance and film — Your Flesh Shall Be a Poem: The Art of Plein Air Dance. This is a collaboration of photography and the poetry that has inspired her site-specific outdoor dances in Southern California, with a forward by Elizabeth Schwyzer, local dancer and dance writer. Publisher Karyn Kloumann of Nauset Press will be on hand and is the sister of Santa Barbara dancer Erika Kloumann, who regularly collaborates with Bisio.
Allegra Snyder Fuller, professor emerita of dance and former director of the graduate program in dance ethnology at UCLA has called it “avery attractive, wind-blown and provocative book.”
The book will be for sale at the discounted price of $18 at the event and will officially launch on Amazon.com on Sunday for $21.99
Park in the lower lot of Shoreline Park or in the adjoining side streets. The beach stairs in Shoreline Park are located by the Japanese Arch. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted. It is recommended to bring blankets or beach chairs for seating, with the only limit on space what the beach will hold!
— Justine Sutton is a Santa Barbara freelance writer and frequent Noozhawk reviewer. The opinions expressed are her own.