A residency and performance program at UCSB.
In 2004, LAUNCH PAD Artistic Director Risa Brainin and the Department of Theater and Dance began an initiative to bring playwrights of national stature to the University of California, Santa Barbara, working side by side with students, faculty, and guest artists to create plays. The goal for these extended residencies is three-fold:
- To intimately expose serious theatre students to the working processes of people who make plays for a living every day
- To provide a safe and fertile environment for artists to boldly explore new ideas.
- To establish UCSB as a magnet for the creation of new work.
While professional theaters are not always able to take a risk on fully producing new work, the university offers the playwright the chance to work on the play in a safe environment with students who are deeply engaged and hungry to learn how this process works. These “Preview Productions” are fully realized allowing the playwright to see his/her work in 3-D. In 2010, the department formalized this initiative dubbing it “LAUNCH PAD, a residency and performance program at UCSB."
Santa Barbara Dance Theater, directed by Christopher Pilafian, is the professional contemporary dance company in residence in the Department of Theater and Dance. The company presents an annual season at the Hatlen Theater and has the distinction of being the longest continually operational contemporary dance company in the Santa Barbara area. A keystone performing arts organization in our community, SBDT has provided innovative and inspiring performances for thousands of audience members throughout California and on tour internationally for over thirty years, including extensive educational outreach. International touring has included performances in China, Korea, Ireland and the Czech Republic. Guest choreographers Charles Moulton, Joe Goode, Mitchell Rose, David Parsons, Remy Charlip, Louis Falco, Lucas Hoving and others have created or set works for the company. The company serves an important educational role in the department. The SBDT dancers inspire, validate and focus student aspirations by modeling professional work process from daily class through creation, rehearsal and performance. Since the company’s inception in 1976, many company members have been former UCSB Dance majors, invited to join the company immediately after graduation or after pursuing a professional career.
The UCSB Dance Company directed by Delila Moseley is a student company in residence established in 1990. The company provides extensive performing opportunities for outstanding senior-year dance majors selected by the dance faculty. Through their performances the company benefits the UC Santa Barbara campus community as well as Santa Barbara arts patrons, young adult audiences and school children of all ages in the area. The company’s local, regional, national and international performance activities bring them in contact with a large, diverse population while raising public awareness of the UC Santa Barbara Dance Program. The company toured China in 2008 and 2009, and Italy in 2011 and 2012. The company has received recognition for its high standard of excellence through successful grant applications from the National Endowment for the Arts - most recently for Jennifer Muller (2010/2011). The NEA Mulleraward facilitated the setting of Muller’s seminal work Speeds for the UCSB Dance Company, a scholarly conference on Muller’s work attracting nationally known writers and critics, a multi media exhibit about Muller’s life and work and publication of a book about Muller. In the 2012/2013 season the company will offer a dance outreach program to Santa Barbara schools and will tour throughout California, perform in New York City, and complete a fourteen day performing tour in Italy.
The Odyssey Project
The Odyssey Project is part of the new Theater and Community initiative that is designed as an outreach performance program. The project brings incarcerated youth into the university to undertake a series of specialized modules, mentored throughout by university faculty, and joined in their experience by undergraduate students as their peers. The experience incorporates reading and writing exercises, improvisation classes, martial arts choreography, mime, mask building, animation, dance, drumming, and performance ritual, that culminates in a public theater performance in downtown Santa Barbara of an adaptation of the Homeric epic poem The Odyssey.