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Sunday, January 20 , 2019, 10:33 am | Fair 62º


Review: SBCC Dance Concert Melds ‘Visions, Dreams & Memories’

The students' site-specific performance takes the audience on a magical mystery tour

Dancing sprites in a sun-dappled garden, elegant ladies in silk shifts with parasols and hearty singing roustabouts with a traveling circus — all were encountered Saturday at various points on the SBCC campus. No everyday stroll across the quad, it was the students’ site-specific dance concert, “Visions, Dreams & Memories,” directed by Pamela Lappen.

The audience gathered outside the dance studio and the scene was set when Lappen read aloud a delightful story of five lovely sisters and their wide-ranging journey 100 years ago to search for the meanings of the words Darkness, Earth, Tranquility, Flight, Love and Innocence. In addition to deeper significance of those words, they found friendship among the roustabouts of a traveling circus, yet were tragically lost at sea. All that remained were six hand-carved boxes containing their findings on the six essential words whose meaning they sought.

The audience was then led up to the gardens overlooking the harbor, where beautifully costumed dancers representing the six words were dancing around and behind trees and plantings.

Nikki Rossignol, who embodied Flight, also was responsible for the costume design. In addition to her own beautiful blue costume with feather headdress, especially effective was Skylar Harrison’s flowing, chocolate brown dress (Earth) draped gracefully over one shoulder. All of the dancers beautifully portrayed the essence of their roles.

Next, the audience was led to a spot where the five sisters danced in radiant salmon-orange, Asian-style shifts with parasols to live guitar music by Ben Valenzuela. They made good use of a long, molded concrete bench by sitting and dancing on the back and seat of it, creating levels to the dance.

The final stop on the tour was a spot with a round grassy knoll, where the audience perched on a stone wall while the six “spirits” danced again, to Helena Catherine McGahaga’s soulful and heartfelt viola music. Then the roustabouts made their appearance, dancing and singing with great gusto and irreverence, in contrast to the elegant spirits and the demure sisters. Live drumming was provided by Hamid Ziaee and Kia Medina, after a playful bout of capoeira-style sparring. The roustabouts then led the way back with spirited songs and more drumming.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and a stellar example of site-specific dance. It was also part of a larger project. The next step is creating a film of the performance, which will be shown to the public Nov. 20-21 in the SBCC Dance Studio (PE 113). For tickets or more information, call Lappen at 805.892.3732.

— Justine Sutton of Santa Barbara is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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