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In 2008, Dianne Vapnek approached me about partnering with the Lobero to continue the work of her SUMMERDANCE festival. The feedback from the visiting artists expressed the impact of these residencies to their careers, and ignited the idea to provide a month-long creative residency with only one requirement; to share the work with Santa Barbara audiences.

DANCEworks evolved from the SUMMERDANCE experience of providing choreographers during their festival residence with time and space to create new work. SUMMERDANCE built enduring relationships with the contemporary choreographers it presented from 1997-2006 such as Doug Varone (the 2019 Choreographer-in-Residence), Doug Elkins, Larry Keigwin, Mark Dendy, Aszure Barton and Brian Brooks–all of whom have returned for a DANCEworks residency.

We are here as a resource to the community, and it’s our mission to bring creative ideas to life. DANCEworks is a perfect example of this; it has never been our idea and we would never take ownership away from Dianne and her dynamic board of directors, but, it simply won’t work without the Lobero driving it. The Lobero team works closely with each visiting artist and tailors their residency to meet their needs. No two residencies have been the same, posing some wild and memorable challenges–everything from a huge delivery of two tons of rubber mulch to sourcing over 50 pairs of combat boots. Our talented crew and staff who take on each challenge with creativity and enthusiasm.

The idea was unconventional... and perfect for the Lobero

Our mission is quite simple – preserve and maintain the Lobero Theatre and facilitate the finest in the performing arts. We provide the space that holds all of this wonderful activity along with the personnel needed. It is the performers–the artists, dancers, musicians, and visionaries like Dianne Vapnek–that are the lifeblood for a vibrant performing arts scene.

The choreographers that she´s brought to this stage have been nothing short of exemplary. I think the greatest endorsement the program could receive is that all past choreographers were represented in that show. These are successful, in-demand artists, and it says a lot that they all made a point to be part of the 10th Anniversary showcase. We’re honored to work with Dianne, and we’re very proud to have added something valuable to the modern dance community.

When you take on a new project–especially something as hard to define as DANCEworks was in the beginning–it’s impossible to picture it ten years later. I look back on a program that has accomplished so much in the face of dwindling arts funding and a crowded media marketplace that competes with live performing arts, and I am very proud to play a role.

Here’s to dance.

David Asbell, Executive Director, Lobero Theatre Foundation