Dance scene buzz: Sunday’s HIVE produces sweet dance honey

"Please, Please" with Curtis J. (vocalist), Jeremiah Tatum, Melvin Clark and Kenya Williams H. Wang photo
“Please, Please” with Curtis J. (vocalist), Jeremiah Tatum, Melvin Clark and Kenya Williams
H. Wang photo

Despite the amount of dance that passes through Santa Barbara, and the amount of schools and instructors in our town, there still is a dearth of opportunities for modern choreographers to have their works performed. Companies come and go, and find that locations and funding are a problem. According to Stephen Kelly, part of the collective called Hive, spearheaded by Maria Rendina Frantz of Motion Theatre Dance Company, the cost of rehearsal space in Santa Barbara is even higher now than New York City. The answer to that dilemma: form a collective, and focus on delivering a wide-ranging evening of dance, while turning a profit. They believe it can be done, and if the advance tickets to this Sunday’s show “Buzz” are any indication, they may be right. And dance fans will benefit.

“We’re hoping this will provide a model that is not just sustainable here, but elsewhere in the country,” Mr. Kelly says. He and his wife, choreographer Misa Kelly, have broadened the scope of their own organization ArtBark to encompass the East Coast and Eastern Europe, and Hive is another offshoot of their collective ideal.

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A teaching moment – Defying Gravity shoots for poetry, falls to earth in DramaDogs latest

DramaDogs only produce one play a year — recently, anyway — and have such short lives in the theater (only three performances), that many in town might not be aware of their long existence. E. Bonnie Lewis, co-director with husband Ken Gilbert, stars elsewhere in other company’s plays, but a DramaDogs show is her fullest expression of her art and DD’s techniques. Those techniques were out on full display in their production of “Defying Gravity,” Jane Anderson’s 1997 play about the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

Or at least that’s the springboard for a play that means to tie together our dreams of flight with concepts of faith and art. Ms. Anderson’s play is a lightly comic collage of disparate parts that intersect at humdrum moments. There’s a Christa McAuliffe stand-in, just called the “Teacher” in the play (Michelle A. Osborne) and her child (Natascha Skerczak) who narrates the play as an adult, but plays a five-year-old in the scenes with her mother. There’s a retired couple, Ed and Betty, played by Juan Rodriguez and Meredith McMinn, who are touring the country in a Winnebago and head to the Kennedy Space Center to see the launch. There’s a NASA engineer C.B. (Joe Andrieu) who spends his after hours at a local bar, flirting with the bartender Donna (Erica S. Connell), and after the Challenger explosion, drowning his sorrows and blaming himself. And there’s Claude Monet (Ken Gilbert), the Impressionist painter who died in 1926.

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