Women in flowing gray slips dance in the moonlight. Performers skip through a flower garden in a merry promenade like elves in a child's fairy tale. Four dancers, their bodies buried in sand, their faces covered by seaweed, slowly emerge from the beach in a representation of Genesis.
All three of these dances were choreographed around and rely upon their environment. "We feel the outdoor sites are beautiful sources of artistic information and inspiration," said choreographer and dancer Robin Bisio of the Cormorant Dance Foundation. The three numbers will be performed this weekend as part of the Santa Barbara Outdoor Dance Festival, founded by Bisio four years ago.
Each piece "emanates from the sense of the place in which it was born," Bisio said. For example, the "Mimetic Moon Dance" expresses the haunting, mysterious qualities of a moon-shadowed night, the "Rose of the World" number takes on the mood of a garden of flowers. "It almost conveys the feeling that little, magical people are coming out in secret and dancing around the roses," Bisio said.
The popular moon dance will be performed for the third time in the festival's history Friday at 9 p.m. at the County Courthouse sunken gardens, Anapamu and Santa Barbara streets. This is the second year for the rose dance, which was also performed during the opening ceremonies of the Los Angeles Festival on Sept. 1. Unlike prior daytime performances, this one will be at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Mission Rose Garden lawn, Los Olivos and Garden streets. Bisio said, by way of explaining the time change, "The spirits of the garden come out to play by night; we wanted to be there when they did."
New to the festival is the "Sand Shiva" which will take place at 3 p.m. at Mesa Lane Beach, at Mesa Lane Drive off Cliff Drive.
Once again the grand finale will be the Coastal Dance Project, Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. at Thousand Steps Beach, Santa Cruz Street below Shoreline Drive. The beach stairs at Shoreline Park can also be used for coastal access.
About 40 artists and dance groups will gather on a half-mile stretch of beach to dance in the waves and sand, to create works of art by the ocean, to read their poetry out loud. "This is a gathering of artists, not an art show and sale," Bisio said. "The whole event is noncommercial."
All events are free, and the audience is encouraged to bring lawn chairs and picnic foods. The dances last about half an hour each. For more information, call 962-6945 or 963-0611 Ext. 4539.
Solvang will also be animated with dance and song this weekend during the annual Danish Days Festival. The small town founded by Danish settlers is best known for its Danish look--even modern hotels and restaurants boast window boxes and windmills. The streets are lined with bakeries, and a replica of the Little Mermaid fountain is located in town as is the Hans Christian Andersen Museum.
Ethnic food and entertainment will be featured in the festival, and not only will clowns and jugglers wander the streets but so will the Danish performance trio of Linie 3, known in the States as The Three Danes. The singing and comedy group is currently one of Denmark's most popular acts. As well as wandering the streets, The Three Danes will perform Friday at 8 p.m. at the Sheraton Hotel, 400 Alisal Road, 688-8000. Tickets are $10.
Saturday starting at 3 p.m., a parade will weave through the village. For more information, call the visitors' bureau, 688-6144.
Another celebration of cultural heritage, the Mexican Independence Day Festival, with authentic food, music and dance, will be held 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in Santa Barbara's Oak Park.
And the culture and history of Southern California will be represented in "You Oughta Be in Pictures," a costume party from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Friday at Fess Parker's Red Lion Resort, 633 E. Cabrillo Blvd. Guests are encouraged to dress as their favorite Hollywood movie star or character. The party--a benefit for the Santa Barbara County Chapters of the American Diabetes Assn. and the American Heart Assn.--will offer prizes for the best costumes, a silent auction of celebrity memorabilia, a motion picture trivia contest, a band and dancing, and a buffet. Alice Faye, who starred in more than 40 movies in the 1930s and '40s will be special guest.
Tickets for the event are $60 per person. For more information, call 963-4194 or 963-8862.