o what fun

Doug Elkins is happy.  His dancers are happy.  I am happy.  Our Santa Barbara world has become a happy place.

Elkins’ gifted dancers Donnell Oakley and Cori Marquis told me they feel like small children again as they discover the beauty of Santa Barbara, after leaving behind the grimness of the harsh NYC winter.  Their group is extremely pleased to have landed for a month on Western shores.  In fact, after arrival, and touring their new digs,  they described themselves as “giddy.”

Doug is high on inspiration enabled by the opportunity provided here to dig into a new work.  He’s only been able to dream about it until now.  He confided, half-jokingly, with a little Elkins’ grin, “You know you can keep touring The Sound of Music for just so long!”

As I viewed rehearsals last week, one image kept coming to mind.  I love to feed the beautiful carp in gardens when I go to Japan. The fish see you coming, swim over to you, and  open their mouths wide to be fed as they gobble (do fish gobble?) down the fish food. At rehearsals, Doug was generously feeding his dancers and they, hungry for the moves, ate their “food” with obvious delight. The reciprocity, i.e. the give and take between choreographer and dancers, has me again believing in the goodness of  humankind.

Doug’s moves are intricate.  Think of the small complexity of patting your stomach and rubbing your head.  Now times 100. Elkins’ dancers pick up the movements effortlessly; gliding, swooping, dipping, ducking, lifting, and twisting as if they were born doing it. His partnering is delectable.  It’s pure pleasure to watch.

Our efforts were very successful to get community participants for the dance Flashmob we’re planning .  One hundred twenty men, women and children appeared at the entrance of the Lobero yesterday, ready to learn a dance from Doug.  They worked intensely for two hours.  Between Doug’s antic pranks and pratfalls and their eager attempts to learn the work, there was lots of laughter.   Everyone concluded the rehearsal in a great mood and ready for more.  Me included!

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4 comments

  • Diana February 28, 2011  

    Thank you once again, Dianne, for the unbelievable opportunity to work with yet another gifted and talented choreographer right here in Santa Barbara!!! Doug is AMAZING!!
    DANCEworks is a blessing to the Santa Barbara community and I am THRILLED to get to be a part of it!
    Keep up your inspired and inspiring work!

  • Starshine March 4, 2011  

    It is SO MUCH FUN being part of the flashmob. Thank you thank you thank you for inviting us in!

  • Dianne Vapnek March 9, 2011  

    Starshine! It’s been wonderful having you. You’re a mighty fine dancer as well as a writer!

  • Dianne Vapnek March 9, 2011  

    Diana, we need more people like you! Thanks for your enthusiasm and support!

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