Four dancers from Santa Barbara Dance Theater in a modern work that involves them tugging on the pink shirts that each one is wearing.
Performers rehearse for the upcoming Santa Barbara Dance Theater program. Credit: Jeff Liang

Santa Barbara Dance Theater (SBDT) will present its 2023 season — Intimacy & Autonomy — featuring the work of guest choreographers Helen Simoneau and David Maurice, and a premiere by UCSB dance faculty Brandon Whited, Jan. 18-22, at UCSB’s Hatlen Theater.

This is the second season for Whited, SBDT’s artistic director (he is also UCSB associate professor of dance and director of dance performance), and the 46th anniversary season for the company.

The upcoming concert reflects a shifting creative direction for the company toward a project-based framework and innovative contemporary dance.

Santa Barbara Dance Theater is the only professional dance company in residence in the UC system,

“I am so excited to bring together professional dancers from near and far, guest choreographers, UCSB dancers and students, and the greater Santa Barbara arts community in this production that has been in process since August 2022,” said Whited.

Last summer, Whited hosted a creative residency with guest choreographers Helen Simoneau and David Maurice, who worked with UCSB Dance Summer students to develop the new works that will be presented on the Hatlen Stage this month.

This season features Nicole Powell of Carpinteria, Paige Amicon of Los Angeles, Natalie Leibert, of Moorpark, and UCSB Dance alum, Derion Loman of Los Angeles; with apprentice-understudies Riley Haley (UCSB Dance class of ’24), Sky Pasqual (UCSB Dance class of ’24), and Dalya Modlin (UCSB Dance class of ’23).

Performance works include Simoneau’s “Darling,” which explores vulnerability and intimacy through the presence and absence of touch. “Darling” exposes audiences’ own biases towards the perceived power and strength of the people onstage. This iteration of the work is a 30-minute redux of the original evening-length version.

Maurice offers a premiere “Partial Adaptation” as part of the concert. It is created in the realm of absurdist theater, challenging autonomy and the “fourth wall.” For Maurice, “Partial Adaptation” is the start of a period of curiosity and the exploration of the roles of performers and audience, misuse of the fourth wall, and performer and audience autonomy. 

Whited’s “Her (abridged)” is a new ensemble work for five women — comprised of SDBT dancers and apprentices — that abstractly resonates on the ongoing injustice endured by women. Developed in partial collaboration with the dancers, the piece contrasts gestural explorations of strength and assertiveness, with durational group partnering reflecting community and mutual support among women.

For tickets and more information, visit theaterdance.ucsb.edu, or call the box office, 805-893-2064.

Health protocols for 2022-23 events will be determined in conjunction with evolving state, local and university guidelines, and are subject to change. Dheck the Theater/Dance website for details and updates closer to the date of the event.