New Era Dawns For Santa Barbara Dance Theater

Premiere of the new SBDT under the direction of Christopher Pilafian, whose vision is on display in a series of beautifully poignant solos, amazing duets, breath-taking trios in which the dancers explore the relationships of space & human connection.
Kyle Castillo by Eric Isaacs
Kyle Castillo by Eric Isaacs
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Jan. 10, 2013 - PRLog -- (Santa Barbara, CA  12.12.12)   Finding the physics between the four dancers has been the guiding focus of Santa Barbara Dance Theater’s new artistic director, Christopher Pilafian, since he took over the much-admired company last year.  Now the public will have a chance to see what’s been developing on the UC Santa Barbara campus where the contemporary dance company is in residence at the highly praised Theater and Dance Department.  A Leap of Faith will have its premiere January 16 - 20 at the Hatlen Theater – only five performances – Wednesday through Saturday at 8 pm and 2pm on Sunday.  Featuring Kyle Castillo, Monica Ford, Tracy R. Kofford and Christina Sanchez, the four dancers have been likened to a string quartet, but in their own métier, because their movements blend together so seamlessly.  

Moments of wonder and possibility will be seen in beautifully poignant solos, amazing duets, breath-taking trios and energetic quartets where the dancers explore the relationships of space, time and how humans connect. Pilafian has the company playfully interacting one moment and other times demonstrably pointed and challenging. Music tempos and moods vary throughout using original and classical pieces. Commenting on the partnering quality the dancers have achieved, Pilafian said, “It’s very rare for dancers to become as fluid together as these four have in so short a time. Their fluidity is a product of time spent working closely in the studio month after month, getting to know each other’s rhythms, temperaments and movement signatures.”  He continued “I have been blessed with strong dancers who have been able to respond to my ideas and bring their own kinetic signatures into the process.” Pilafian likes to “tune into the stories the dancers carry in their bodies, and then expand upon them.  What you will see in A Leap of Faith is the conversation – a dance script – that we developed while working together this past year.”  He continued, “SBDT provides an invaluable opportunity for dance majors to experience working in a professional contemporary dance company after graduation. I’m grateful to the University for maintaining belief in and support of the company.” In fact some of the strongest company members through the years have been alumni who, like Kofford or Teresa Chapman, have danced professionally elsewhere (San Francisco or New York City) and then returned to SBDT as seasoned professionals.  This resident dance company is establishing a great legacy.

Three of the four company members – Ford, Castillo & Kofford – graduated from UCSB.  Both Ford & Kofford were in the company when it was directed by Jerry Pearson.  The fourth member, Sanchez, moved to Santa Barbara to start a family with her husband Eric (they have two girls ages 4 & 8). She danced for many years with the internationally known and acclaimed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater as well as Complexions Contemporary Ballet. The latter company’s dancers are widely recognized as being very strong technically and in performance, with gorgeous lines – Sanchez’s long lines are especially featured in her solo and are astoundingly beautiful. After Kofford’s years with SBDT, he moved to New York to work with Jennifer Muller/The Works, (where Pilafian was a company member before he arrived at UCSB in 1990). Kofford returned to the South Coast recently and has been named Director of Dance at Santa Barbara City College. Together Christina and Tracy bring mature artistry while Ford and Castillo, in their 20s, bring a unique, fresh intensity to the stage. Castillo graduated as a Global Studies & Spanish major, although he trained as a dancer; he was not in the dance program – but you wouldn’t know it. Ford, began dancing at three years old, was with SBDT from 2009 -11. She received awards in dance and choreography throughout her college years graduating with a BFA in Dance from UCSB.  Together, these four are stunning to watch.  

The design team for A Leap of Faith includes: Choreographer & Artistic Director Christopher Pilafian, Lighting Designer Michael Klaers; Music Supervisor William Pasley; Costume Designer Anaya Cullen.  

Santa Barbara Dance Theater & UC Santa Barbara Department of Theater and Dance present A Leap of Faith January 16 to 20, 2013. Show times are Wed – Sat @ 8 p.m.; Sunday @ 2 p.m. at the newly refurbished Hatlen Theater on the campus of UC Santa Barbara. Located on Ocean Road, park in Lot 22 and follow the signs to the Hatlen.  For information, call the box office at (805) 893-7721. Tickets are $19 general; $13 student/senior, UCSB staff & faculty. Tickets can be ordered online now at:  

The Hatlen Theater is wheelchair accessible and has the Assistive Listening System in place for patrons who are hard of hearing. Please call in advance to make arrangements (805) 893-3022

Hi-Res and additional photos are available upon request -

Attached a lo-res shot of dancer Kyle Castillo. PHOTO CREDIT: Eric Isaacs

Articles and Interviews online:

Additional Press/Background for your convenience:

UCSB Today article

SB Independent article

Bravo California! interview

UCSB Theater and Dance Department site:
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Tags:Dance, Performance, Live, Professional, Entertainment
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Location:Santa Barbara - California - United States
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