Friday, September 28, 2007

Event: Evenings 9/07

Three weeks of preparation came to a head tonight as 11 State Street Ballet dancers put on an in-studio performance for over 100 guests. With choreography ranging from the mostly classical "Stars and Stripes" to the premiere of a contemporary ballet by company dancer Dana Young, Evenings gave dance novices a lot to taste, and dance experts a lot to savor.

Terez Dean and Ryan Camou kickstarted the evening with a performance of the coda from Balanchine's "Stars and Stripes". A virtuoso showpiece punctuated by the pin-sharp steps of Terez, the hopping pirouettes à la seconde of Ryan, and their outsized personalities and dancing, Stars and Stripes grabbed everyone's attention and made sure they sat up and paid attention.

Whoops and catcalls greeted the second piece, Enton Hoxha's mysteriously named "Tango 1", as Leila Drake, in a very short dress, and Enton, in a very open shirt, demonstrated how ballet steps and ballet partnering techniques were integrated into a sensual tango.

Terez and Dana Young performed the third piece, Jackie Clark's "My Friend", that explored the relationship between two friends through the use of hip-hop inspired contractions fused with ballet pointe technique and African drumming. White long-sleeved T-shirts formed a bond between the two friends as they found new ways to twist and pull the T-shirts to hold and push each other apart, literally and metaphorically.

The equally mysteriously named "Tango 2" by Galina Valeryuna danced by Alyson Mattoon and Ryan showed us again how compliantly ballet technique can be merged with other dance forms. If "Tango 1" was about a relationship in full bloom and perhaps decline, then "Tango 2" seemed to show us the hopeful, playful beginnings of a new relationship.

Next came the literally breathtaking pas de deux by Kenneth Balient with Dana and John Christopher Piel, as this duet of extreme physical demands made both dancers' breaths audible from across the room by its end. A piece that showcased difficult lifts and partnering steps linked together smoothly and seamlessly, "Forgotten Desires" asked for trust as well as stamina, as the girl had to often commit to off-balanced poses trusting that the boy would be there to catch her before the ground did. Set to a mysterious, atmospheric score that unfolded as the choreography did, "Forgotten Desires" rewarded viewers who followed its long, lyrical line.

After such an intense piece, Enton's "Back Again" was welcome reprieve. Basically a showcase for male virtuosity, Enton and Bayaraa Badamsambuu used all of the stage space as they demonstrated huge leaps and turns done in unison.

Finally, the premiere of the night, Dana's "Not a Number" set for an ensemble of 6 girls --- Terez Dean, Leila Drake, Sarah Fuhrman, Alyson Mattoon, Jennifer Rowe, and Christine Sawyer --- had dancers moving to Apparat's Minimalist-inspired electronica, "Not a Number." While there were ballet steps interspersed, and everyone danced in pointe shoes, its entire sensibility was contemporary. Many of its steps have no equivalent in ballet: when do ballet shoulders purposely go up and down, and when do ballet arms form such sharp, straight lines? Its ensemble movement, its relationship to the audience, and the patterns it formed came from without ballet: right angles away from the audience with no hint of classical contrapposto, asymmetric patterns and movement all pointed to a more modern influence.

Leaving the performance, people could be heard to say that they wanted more, and that the program was too short. In dance, this is only good news, and we hope that they will tell their friends and come back to see us again.

10 of 11 Evenings dancers: Bayaraa, Christine, Leila, Terez, Sarah, Alyson, Ryan, Dana, John, Enton

Ballet makes people happy: the performer's eye view

Friday, September 14, 2007

News: Evenings returns on September 28!

Save the date of Friday, September 28, because Evenings returns to the studios of State Street Ballet kicking off our 2007-2008 Santa Barbara season!

Celebrate the end of a long work week, and join us for a casual evening of fun and dancing: enjoy a glass of wine and light food while watching new choreography created and performed by the dancers of SSB. With a little bit of everything in a short program, Evenings is a great way to see a wide variety of dance in many styles you won't see in a traditional ballet performance. Afterwards, meet the dancers and find out what makes them tick.

Doors open at 6:30PM. Tickets are $20 in advance, and $25 at the door. RSVP to or call (805) 965-6066. The SSB studios are located at 322 State Street.

The poster you'll be seeing around town.