Wednesday, March 21 , 2018, 6:28 pm | Light Rain Fog/Mist 57º


Ballet Santa Barbara Takes Fans on a Spirited Spin

Interactive performance shows off repertoire while introducing the art to youngsters

Ballet Santa Barbara kept its audience on its toes while showing off a range of styles at its community workshop and performance, “Ballet: Up Close and Cultural,” on Saturday.

In the ballroom of the Carrillo Recreation Center, dancers swooped, spun and pirouetted through five ballet pieces, from an excerpt of the classic Prelude from Les Sylphides to the contemporary Midnight Tangle. Two Afro-Brazilian pieces completed the set.

The event also featured live music from accompanist and Ballet Santa Barbara music director Eric Valinsky and Afro-Cuban drummers Philip Hernandez and Nikolas Valinsky.

Click here for a slideshow of the Ballet Santa Barbara workshop and performance.

The interactive event made room for the kids in the audience as the dancers had children work out their dancing talent in a couple of workshops. Afterward, the audience got a chance to ask the performers questions about their experience with dance.

“I wanted to be a figure skater,” said Colombian-born guest dancer Jekyns Pelaez, who is now based in the Bay Area. “But they didn’t have figure skating in my country.” Dancing, he said, was a lifestyle that found him.

The whole point of the event, said Ballet Santa Barbara co-founder and president Carrie Diamond, was to make ballet feel more accessible to the community. Ballet Santa Barbara leans toward contemporary ballet styles and a less formal presentation. Some of the dancers are in residency at Roosevelt School, which also makes them available to underserved kids in the community.

“For elementary ages, I think dance is even more important than music because it’s physical. It allows the kids who need to move, who obviously are very impulsive, to express through their bodies,” said Diamond, who choreographed Saturday’s performance with Brian Carey Chung and Lizabeth Skalski. Kids can learn elements of music like rhythm and tempo through dance, Diamond added.

Diamond and her husband, Eric Valinsky, founded Ballet Santa Barbara soon after they moved to Santa Barbara from New York City after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. After a few years of concerts and performances of contemporary ballet, the focus of BSB has become community outreach, concentrating on bringing more dance to local schools and youth groups, as well as teaching adults. Outside of ballet, BSB is expanding its teaching repertoire with other styles of dance, including Afro Brazilian and Balinese.

Saturday’s free workshop was sponsored by Santa Barbara Bank & Trust and was a joint project with the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission and the Carrillo Recreation Center.

Click here for more information on Ballet Santa Barbara. Click here for a related David Bazemore video clip from last year’s performance.

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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