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GOINGS ON : Dance Gala to Take on an Environmental Tune : This year's Santa Barbara festival will include music, poetry and standing art exhibits, all based on the common theme.

September 23, 1993|LEO SMITH | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Since its debut in 1987, the annual Santa Barbara Outdoor Dance Festival and Coastal Project has proven to be one of the more innovative and entertaining arts event each year.

And the 1993 version, Friday through Sunday, should be no different.

The series of dance performances, music, poetry, and standing art exhibits, all based on an environmental theme, will begin with the presentation of the "Mimetic Moon Dance," Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Arroyo Burro Beach.

Imagine five women dancing at dusk along the water's edge in a manner similar to that of a traditional Papua New Guinea dance. That's how the "Mimetic" was described by choreographer Robin Bisio, head of the Cormorant Dance Foundation, producer of the festival.

"A lot of folklore has been put into the dance," said Bisio. "It holds a lot of ancient wisdom about the moon. It's simple and elegant."

On Saturday, the dance troupe will give three performances of a piece titled "Heaven and Hell in Geologic Time." It will be presented at 8 a.m. at Las Positas Park Amphitheater, 1:30 p.m. at Shoreline Park Beach, and 5:30 p.m. at Stevens Park.

"It is an oblique look at our humanness, at being natural beings on this planet," said Bisio. "Basically, it was created after the accidental death of the young boy of a friend of mine. There is a heaven section in it, an angelic force." Hell, said Bisio, is represented by dancers being pelted with mud balls, hit by avalanches, and sliding over glaciers.

The festival will culminate, Sunday, when 40 artists present an eclectic collection of work at Leadbetter Beach, from 1 to 3 p.m. The installations will range from the fragile to the interactive, from the playful to the politically conscious. Some will incorporate the sand, others the water, the rocks, beach trash or other found objects.

Some of the presentations:

John Lofaso has created a life-size deer made of pine needles, which he will display floating offshore on an artificial island.

Olav Westphalen, in his performance piece "Walk on Water," will strap large pieces of styrofoam to his feet and industrial strength helium balloons under his arms, enabling him to, yes, do as the title suggests.

Alex Munoz and Nina Lindberg will send hundreds of clay eggs on a trip from the ocean to the cliff.

And Colleen Kelly will build tiny pueblos inside a giant cave in a giant cliff, evoking, she said, "images of ancient habitations and the continuity of our relationship to the earth."

So where are all the sites located? Arroyo Burro Beach, 2981 Cliff Drive; Leadbetter Beach, along Shoreline Drive; Las Positas Park Amphitheater, 1298 Las Positas Road; Shoreline Park Beach, La Marina and Shoreline Drive; Stevens Park, 258 Canon Drive.

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The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History will kick off its 1993-1994 weekly travel film series Sunday with a showing of "Africa Camera Safari." The movie will take a look at the hippos of Mzima Springs, the lions of Lake Manyara, and the crocodiles of the Nile. The safari will also stop at several African parks devoted to protecting animals from poaching. The screening will begin at 3 p.m. General admission is $5. In honor of the start of the new film series, there will be a free tea beginning at 2 p.m. The museum is located at 2559 Puesta del Sol Road. Call 682-4711.

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In conjunction with its current art exhibit focusing on women artists of California, the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum will host a three-part series of live events beginning Wednesday night.

San Francisco performance artist Rachel Kaplan will present a work titled, "The Probable Site of the Garden of Eden." Through dance, text, and music, Kaplan will take a modern look at the Biblical Garden of Eden, incorporating the issues of physical abuse of women, the environment and the Middle East.

CAF is located on the second floor of the Paseo Nuevo shopping center. The performance will begin at 8 p.m. General admission is $8. Call 963-0408.

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Looks like it's a choice between Texas and Oklahoma in Santa Barbara theater productions.

The Pasadena Playhouse will open its 1993-1994 Lobero Theatre season tonight, when the curtain rises on a preview performance of "A Tuna Christmas." The critically acclaimed comedy is a sequel to the long-running show "Greater Tuna," about the small town of Tuna, Texas.

"A Tuna Christmas" will run Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. through Oct. 10. Tickets are $26.50 (for preview shows through Sunday) and $28.50 (regular performances). Call (800) 883-PLAY or 963-0761. The Lobero is located at 33 E. Canon Perdido St.

(Bring a can of tuna to any show through Sunday to donate to the Council of Christmas Cheer and get in for half price. Clothing, food, and toys will also be collected at the door tonight.)

Meanwhile, Santa Barbara's Civic Light Opera will open its run of the much-loved Rogers and Hammerstein collaboration, "Oklahoma," with a preview performance of its own, tonight. The show will run through Oct. 17 at the Granada Theatre, 1216 State St. Show times are Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 7 p.m., with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. General admission ranges from $18 to $29.50. Call (800) 366-6064.

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