Last night, many members from around the Santa Barbara community visited UCSB’s Hatlen Theater to attend a remarkable performance by the Santa Barbara Dance Theater.

SBDT celebrated its 38th season as the resident professional dance company at UCSB with the opening night of an exciting program entitled “Time in Motion.”

The program featured three unique pieces, two of which were premieres by Artistic Director Christopher Pilafian, and another timeless modern masterpiece by the famous José Limón. Combining several styles of dance with interesting music and sounds, the full-length production showcased the powerful new era of the company.

Whenever I go to see a dance performance, I make sure to withdraw any expectations or memories of other dance events from my brain before it begins. Because every dance piece is so unique and different from others, I do my best to go in with an open mind.

“Time in Motion” did not let me down. Unlike any dance performance I have seen in the past, this program opened my eyes to the way dance is used to tell a story.

To me, just a mere observer in the audience, I gained a strong sense that the dancers were transforming time through movement as they took us through various narrative spaces.

Although equally detailed and intriguing to watch, three pieces, entitled “Smolder,” “The Moor’s Pavane” and “Spark to Shine,” each unraveled a different story.

The one I particularly enjoyed was “Spark to Shine,” a modern piece that accompanied many vibrant colors and up-beat music. It was difficult not to tap my feet to this lively performance. The dancers appeared in red underwear and pajama pieces, often well aware of the playful stage props that included balloons and giant square inflatables hanging from the ceiling.

The audio surprised me, varying from sounds reminiscent of children playing in a park to refreshing jazz and disco-like tunes. The performers’ attitudes and body language reflected this bustling theme, for they were smiling and sometimes giggling amongst themselves on stage.

With this piece I grew well aware of why the program was named “Time in Motion.” The cheerful atmosphere that it radiated through the theater exuded youthfulness. Many parts of the piece included dancers acting like children, as they were running around behind each other or playing with the stage props in a way that reflected the behavior of a child.

However, other parts greatly mirrored the lifestyle of an adult, such as the intimate and romantic behavior of two lovers. The ways in which the performers moved and used their bodies signified the program’s main concept of moving through time and reminded me of the drastic changes we go through as we leave childhood behind and enter the adult world.

The Hatlen Theater will be showcasing this compelling program for three more nights, from Jan. 16 to 19. Students can enjoy all of these innovative creations for only $13.


A version of this story appeared on page 9 of Thursday, January 16, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.