A Celebration of Accomplishments
Dianne Vapnek Receives the Santa Barbara Independent’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Dance
In 1997, on a warm summer morning in downtown Santa Barbara, Dianne Vapnek threw open the doors of a tucked-away studio and ushered in a new dance festival the likes of which the city had never experienced. Her formula for the debut forum known as SUMMERDANCE was twofold: offer New York City dancers the invaluable commodity of uninterrupted studio time (in a bucolic environment, no less) while exposing west coast artists to cutting edge, contemporary approaches they might otherwise have to travel long distances to discover. The festival’s long-running success would set the stage for her groundbreaking follow-up series DANCEworks, solidifying Ms. Vapnek’s position as a leading force in the way dance is designed and digested on the central coast.
Two decades later, the effects of her visionary work continue to reverberate from coast to coast, and on May 21, the Santa Barbara Independent Dance Awards honored Ms. Vapnek with a Lifetime Achievement Award for both of her trailblazing platforms.
“I was truly almost blown away,” Ms. Vapnek wrote later. “It was a wonderful event, happy and joyous for so many of us who work to bring dance into all of our lives.”
Among a sea of award recipients, peers, and SUMMERDANCE veterans, Ms. Vapnek waxed nostalgic about the early days of the organization, and her singular vision of transmuting a well of passion for the dance arts into a viable and vibrant platform that builds on its own momentum with each passing year.
Thru wine and laughter, community members shared intimate stories of SUMMERDANCE’s lasting effects as well as their favorite DANCEworks moments; a buoyancy and warmth present throughout the festivities that underscored dance’s undeniable ability to fuel inspiration and unity within a community.
As DANCEworks continues to bridge the gap between artists and audiences, Ms. Vapnek shows no sign of resting on her noteworthy accolades, gearing up, instead, for a fresh new season of inspirational dialogue between the east and west coasts.