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Dancing on air

Jazz dancer, aerialist, choreographer and teacher Lorenzo SantaBarbara was a big fan of Dick Clark&

s &

American Bandstand&

: &

At the age of 7, I was dancing in a living room with &

American Bandstand&

and that never has left me.&

Ashlanders may remember him for his Children&

s Dance Theatre, which drew 1,400 people to weekend performances of &


in 1999. He has been out of state and recently returned.

At 28 and having earned a master&

s degree, SantaBarbara studied dance for the first time, dancing with the Memphis Ballet. Later, he applied to the University of Utah&

s undergraduate dance program, where he hoped to study jazz.


I was literally on my knees, pleading with the department director. I told him I have so much passion to dance, please let me into your department,&

recalls SantaBarbara, explaining this is a very tough dance program. &

I wasn&

t technically strong. They said my passion got me in.&

Since earning his fine arts degree in jazz from Utah, he has danced, taught and choreographed for many years (he won&

t give away his age by sharing how many). In Boulder, Colo., he created his first dance company and eventually went to New York.



s the Mecca for dance; there are more dancers in New York City than anywhere in the world. And my family is in Upstate New York,&

SantaBarbara explains.

In Manhattan, he lived in a 6-foot by 10-foot studio with no windows in a brownstone where the bathroom was down the hall.

He danced in New York with jazz choreographers Lynn Simmonson and Lori Davido, taught dance to children in a private school Upper East Side school, and took his own dance company &

Kids in Motion&

(based on Jacque D&


s teaching method) to conferences out of state and in Europe where they performed.


I made my debut there &

as a truly starving artist in New York City!&

he says with a chuckle and with pride.

Later, he moved to Seattle where he studied and danced with Nancy Cranborn and created a Seattle dance company for youth, &


He also danced by invitation at Tokyo&

s Nikano Dance Festival.


— Name: Lorenzo SantaBarbara — Hails From: New York — Age: &


— Training: Bachelors of Fine Arts in Jazz from University of Utah. — Studied with jazz choreographers Alan Nicholai, Gus Giordano and the Ririe-Woodbury — team; and aerialists Robert Davidson and Nancy Smith. — Claim to Fame: Locally, directing and choreographing &


— Niche: Collaborating with children in musical productions. — Inspiration: &

The beauty and grace in the body line and in the — movement through space.&

— —


One of the greatest things I love about dance is supporting students to move on with their art and helping them sculpt their passion,&

he adds.

In 1998, he and his wife moved to Ashland, where she has family, to raise their daughter, Tiana. Here, he created the Children&

s Dance Theatre from which he has many happy memories, including providing the scholarship that fulfilled the dream of one dancer to attend a performing arts high school. The training she received at Idyllwild Arts Academy helped Aniala Mahzary into Juilliard Performing Arts School in New York.

Later, divorced, he took a position as director of an arts school near Chapel Hill, N.C., which he left this year after learning that his daughter&

s mother was entering chemotherapy: &

I told my daughter, &


s no way I am going to leave you,&

so I had to figure out a way to make a living.&

Currently he&

s teaching at his La Cirque Center, which houses the Circus and Dance Academy and allows him to rig up his trapeze, 6 tight wire and other aerial equipment. His aerial work was influenced by former Cirque du Soleil &


trapeze artists Elsie and Serenity Smith.

SantaBarbara who teaches jazz and, to those interested in aerial, both, says, &

The kids are having a blast. We are about strength, unity and self-esteem.&

The Circus and Dance Academy will perform an unusual &


this December, choreographed by SantaBarbara and scored by new Ashlander and former musical director for Cirque du Soleil&

s &


in Las Vegas, John Taylor.

Lorenzo SantaBarbara can be reached at 301-6864. His Circus and Dance Academy is located at 280 E. Hersey St., Studio 19.