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Dance Theater Performance to Explore Being Human

Three premieres, and mid-century classic on playbill for May 4-5 programs.

Santa Barbara Dance Theater Ensemble, Mystique.
Santa Barbara Dance Theater Ensemble, Mystique. (David Bazemore)

What do you get when you marry a boundary-bending dance company to a world-renowned research university? To our common good fortune, this isn’t a rhetorical question.

Santa Barbara Dance Theater (SBDT), the professional dance company in residence at UCSB, is a vibrant art enterprise with creative dynamism and impeccable performance standards.

SBDT will present an evening of dance, titled NOW/EVER/MORE, at 8 p.m. May 4-5 at the Lobero Theater, 33 E. Canon Perdido St.

The program will include three diverse premieres by critically lauded choreographers; as well as Cante Flamenco, an historic, mid-century social protest classic by a dance pioneer, and Chamber Fantasy, a new work by Christopher Pilafian, SBDT artistic director.
 
“This program speaks to the timeless role of art,” Pilafian said. ”Choreographers draw upon the raw materials of inspiration, observation, empathy, resonance and passion to reveal what was invisible.

"NOW/EVER/MORE carves out a discrete time and space in which we reflect on the challenges and beauties of this grand collaborative project — being human," Pilafian said.
 
Guest choreographer Andrea Giselle Schermoly, a South African by birth, has danced with the Boston Ballet Company and Netherlands Dance Theater, performing works by Jiri Kylian, Mats Ek, Paul Lightfoot/Sol Leon, Ohad Naharin, Hans van Manen and Alexander Ekman.

As choreographer, she was twice awarded the Outstanding Choreographer award at Youth America Grand Prix and in 2014 was awarded the Emerging Choreographer grant to choreograph at Lincoln Center.

Schermoly’s new work, Hers, is characterized by a highly-wrought physical vocabulary whose expressionism teases out facets of humanity and the individual. She draws original, mature performances from SBDT’s Nikki Pfeiffer, Nicole Powell and Christina Sanchez.

Guest choreographer David Maurice trained at the University of Arizona and has performed works by Donald McKayle, Charles Weidman and George Balanchine.

He has performed with Ate9 Dance Company in Los Angeles and New York City, Luna Negra Dance Theatre in Chicago, and Loni Landon Dance Project in New York City.

His new piece, Were it Not for Shadows, is, in essence, a choreographic confession. Drawing upon cultural ritual, societal norms and romantic notions as forces that impose limits on the sense of self, Maurice and SBDT’s dancers explore conflicts between “I,” “we” and “they.”
 
Pilafian has performed on stage, television and in film with choreographers Jennifer Muller, Alvin Ailey, Judith Jamison, Charles Moulton, and Matthew Diamond. He was awarded the Doris Humphrey Scholarship and the Louis Horst Fellowship at The Juilliard School.

As founding member, principal dancer and associate artistic director of Jennifer Muller/The Works, Pilafian performed in 11 NYC seasons and 10 international tours of Europe, the Middle East, North, Central and South America.
 
Pilafian’s Mystique premiered in January and will be presented again May 4-5. This work for nine women is inspired by Pilafian’s appreciation of the female friends, teachers, partners, choreographers, artistic directors and colleagues who have influenced him throughout his life.

Film composer Will Thomas created the score, and Mary Heebner’s artwork has been transmuted into scenic imagery by designer Michael Klaers. Ingrid Luna’s hand-painted costumes complete the work's collaborative energy.

Pilafian’s newest piece Chamber Fantasy bubbles up from its source in a spirit of delight tinged with irony. Three dancers inhabit a space infused with anticipation and the music of Georg Frideric Handel.
 
The performances at the Lobero Theater will also include a work by dance artist Jane Dudley, a contemporary of legendary dance modernist (and onetime Santa Barbara High School student) Martha Graham.

A dancer in Graham’s company in the 1930s and '40s, Dudley created Cante Flamenco as a choreographic response to the Spanish Civil War, first performing it in 1944.

As staged for SBDT by Nancy Colahan and performed by Ailey alumnus and SBDT company member Christina Sanchez, Cante Flamenco has a renewed relevance in this time of political stridency.

Tickets are $17-$48. For information and tickets, visit www.sbdancetheater.org.

— Cindy Elster for Santa Barbara Dance Theater.
 

 

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