State Street erupted in music and movement on Saturday as the community celebrated what Mayor Marty Blum proclaimed the official Santa Barbara “Dance Day.”
The event was coordinated by Santa Barbara Dance Alliance, an umbrella organization that encourages dancing and choreography throughout the Santa Barbara community. Dance Alliance Executive Director Julie McLeod said the day’s festivities included over 18 performing groups spread out along lower State Street between Sola and Gutierrez Streets.
“Anything that’s dance speaks from the heart,” McLeod said, adding that she hoped the day’s activities helped “foster and encourage dance throughout the Santa Barbara community.”
A broad variety of dance genres were represented, ranging from the Argentinean tango to ballet. One of the performing groups, Las Fiesteras, demonstrated a number of early Californian social dances.
Diana Replogle-Purinton, a member of Las Fiesteras, said she supported the event as an efficient way for dance organizations to reach out to the broader community.
“It’s exciting being out in the community reaching people who wouldn’t necessarily come to formal dance performances,” she said.
Everybody Dance Now! – an organization founded in 2005 by then 14-year-old Jackie Rotman – was another local group that drew crowds from all over the county. The foundation, which is sponsored by Santa Barbara Dance Alliance, has encouraged over 600 Santa Barbara children and teens to get involved in dance.
Alex Smith, a psychology and linguistics student at UCSB, attended a Hula performance and said he sensed a lot of positive energy generated by the day’s performances.
“I thought it was fun to see people involved with something they really love doing,” he said.
Dances were performed between 1 and 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, with dancers staggering their routines at different intervals to reduce traffic and allow passersby the ability to see multiple dances. All the performances were free to the public.
Sheila Caldwell, a Program Associate with Santa Barbara Dance Alliance, explained that the Dance Day festival was a strong sign of community support for the performing arts.
“[The event is] keeping dance arts alive in the community through student involvement and audience exposure,” she said.