In an endearing flurry of tousled hair and rumpled chinos, they were suddenly here, touching down on Santa Barbara for a swift introduction and an exclusive preview of their remarkable work to come.

With engaging vitality and infectious charm, choreographer and director Shannon Gillen, along with Vim Vigor Dance Company members Laja Field and Martin Durov, breezed into the Lobero Theatre and launched into a creative jam session for the eighth installment of the DanceWORKS creative residency series; the season had officially begun.“Right away I knew this company meant business,” said Lobero Theatre Technical Director Todd Jared. “Shannon knew exactly what she wanted, and this work is unlike anything I’ve seen before.” With little more than a set of boom lights and two microphone stands positioned on opposite sides of the stage, Gillen and company set about the business of fleshing out a conceptual narrative, inviting community supporters of the DANCEworks series in for a sneak peek of their choreographic method.

Part physical theatre- part love letter to the art of the monologue, Gillen’s innovative style blends acrobatic prowess and intimate storytelling, with dancers rolling and diving in expert flippancy as their pre-recorded voices filled the expansive theater with tender punctuations. “Just stunning!” shouted one audience member as the curtains were drawn and Gillen emerged from the control booth to field questions from an eager crowd.

With legs dangling casually over the edge of the stage, the trio chatted excitedly over their artistic endeavors and the chance encounters that brought them all together for a creative collaboration unlike anything they’d experienced before. “This is such a luxury,” remarked Gillon, gesturing around the theatre. “To be able to have all of this to work with is an indulgence.”

Inviting guests on stage for a post-preview reception, the dancers weaved thru the crowd with warm familiarity, sharing tidbits of their grueling schedule that includes stopovers in Europe and New York before circling back to Santa Barbara in late August.

The hours rushed by quickly; community members sipped wine and waxed nostalgic over the innovative work the DANCEworks series has consistently pulled in. And then, with the matching ferocity of their glorious arrival, Vim Vigor was suddenly gone, memories of their jolting performance hanging decisively over the lingering crowd. With drawn breaths and mounting anticipation, the left coast awaits their impending return.

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