Gustafson Dance, 2285 Las Positas Road, Santa Barbara, California 93105
(805) 563-DANC (3262) ext. 1

Gustafson Dance Newsletter


A March Celebration

SSBYD’s Celebration of Dance

State Street Ballet Young Dancers (SSBYD) Presents Celebration of Dance on March 18, 2017, at the Lobero Theatre. Featuring innovative choreography ranging from classical to contemporary, Celebration of Dance highlights the work of the pre-professional student training program.

Award-winning choreographer Kassandra Taylor Newberry returns with her fifth appearance at Celebration of Dance with her fun and quirky “Anomalous Collective.” William Soleau, the resident choreographer for State Street Ballet, presents “Thunder in Between,” a breathtaking contemporary work in which dancers are challenged to express their essential humanity.  

The contemporary “Lost Time Is Never Found Again,” by former State Street Ballet dancer and choreographer Autumn Eckman, displays hour glasses lining the stage as dancers explore the passage of time through movement. Also featured is the original ballet, “Degas and the Little Dancer,” by Allison Jones Gustafson, based on a story by Laurence Anholt. Celebration of Dance also presents choreography by Marina Fliagina, Gary McKenzie, Thomas Fant, Fiona Chandrasekaran and student choreographer Kate Winterbauer. Want a poster?


$35-VIP, $25-General, $14-Student

Lobero Theatre, (805) 963-0761,


SSBYD Dancer Spotlight

This month’s dancer spotlight highlights an interview with Isabel Clark


State Street Ballet’s Library Dances. A worthy effort that needs your support!

Today, students need arts education and positive role models more than ever. Library Dances can provide both by bringing State Street Ballet dancers alongside Santa Barbara Junior High students in “The Legend of Zorro”. With a new script based on the 1919 serial by John McCulley called, “The Curse of Capistrano”, this new collaboration between State Street Ballet’s Library Dances and Santa Barbara Junior High’s Theater Department will have audience members on the edge of their seats.

From February through April, the students will be working with principal dancers from State Street Ballet to learn choreography by Library Dances Director Cecily Stewart. Not only will students learn ballet basics, they will expand their dance skills to include salsa, merengue, and even some tango. In addition to learning to move their bodies, students will gain experience from seeing the professional dancers work and interact, and from learning how to work as a team to create the best production possible.

For more on Library Dances visit

Ways to Help:

Donate to our Fundly campaign

Attend our Painted Cabernet event on March 9th at 6 pm a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Library Dances PLUS you get a glass of wine or beer and your very own painting to take home (21 and over).

Buy a gift card for CPK or attend our fundraiser on April 13th! Not only does Library Dances receive 10% of any gift card you buy, if you use that gift card on April 13th or simply come in and have a meal, Library Dances gets 20% of your check!  Click here for a gift card or here for the flyer.


Letter from the Director, Allison Gustafson

In case you missed it in your inbox, one of the most frequently asked questions we get is around participating in dance competitions.  Allison lays out the costs, benefits and considerations below.


Every once in awhile, we are asked about ballet competitions.  Although Gustafson Dance is not a competition studio, meaning the focus of our school is not to prepare for and compete in competitions, we want to support individual dancers who do wish to compete.  There are many prestigious competitions in the ballet world (i.e., Youth America Grand Prix, Dorothy Chandler Spotlight Awards, International Ballet Competition, etc.), in which competing and placing will definitely enhance a dancer’s career.  Dancers wishing to pursue a professional career in dance would be wise to learn about these competitions.  Any of the teachers at Gustafson Dance are available to do private lessons to prepare for competitions.  The cost of an hour private lesson is $75 and the cost of a half hour private lesson is $50.

As far as whether your dancer should engage in competitions, you should consider the pros and cons.  On the pro side, it provides an opportunity to work individually with a teacher, fine tune ballet technique, and enhance performance qualities through the repetition of a variation.  Dancers hone skills that are valuable to have in auditions, as well as college and job interviews.  Dancers who perform well in competition will receive positive recognition, potential awards and scholarships, and greater confidence in their abilities.  However, dancers who do not perform well in competition, or who do not perform as well as others, may feel defeated and may lose confidence in their abilities as dancers, even if the result is not a valid assessment of their abilities as dancers.  In addition, engaging in competitions is expensive and the payoff on that investment is unlikely.  If you pay for ten private lessons at $75 per lesson ($750), purchase a tutu ($800), travel to the competition and stay overnight ($600), and pay the entrance fee ($200), you could have paid for the summer program for which you were hoping to get a scholarship.

In addition, another con would be the subjectivity of the judges.  Judges are individuals who have personal preferences and biases.  In many competitions, they are not as qualified as they should be to evaluate a dancer’s abilities.  Sometimes, preference is given to a dancer who works with a well-known coach or comes from a well-known school.

In other cases, judges are just not knowledgeable enough to be judging.  Leeza Domracheva, Marina’s daughter, participated in the nationally broadcast “Russia’s Most Talented” in Russia.  She was selected out of over 1000 applicants to perform a classical ballet variation.  She did so beautifully, as I watched it on television.  She had to take the judge’s criticism with deference and respect when he told her, most incorrectly, that she needed to learn how to tie her pointe shoes in the right way, with the knot on the outside of the ankle.  To any dancer, that was a very ignorant comment, clearly demonstrating his lack of qualifications in judging ballet.

Ballet is an art, not a sport, but there does seem to be more and more of a push to make it competitive.  Having had my daughter in figure skating, I have seen the pros and cons of a competitive individual sport.  The individual work and the development of close relationships with her coaches were invaluable.  Participation at such an intense level clearly kept her focus through adolescence and helped her develop the discipline and work ethic to be successful later in life.  Although she placed in many competitions early in her skating, the higher the level, the less likely that became.  Working through frustration, disappointment, and failure was very, very challenging, but it does contribute to a strong character.  Overall, I would say the pros and cons have cancelled each other out.

We at Gustafson Dance want to support your dancer in whatever ways we can.  If you have questions about competitions, please feel free to contact us.  We are here to guide you in your dancer’s quest to be the best dancer he or she can be.


Upcoming Events:

Thumbelina at the Lobero Theatre Tickets

Tickets for our Thumbelina show at the Lobero Theatre are now on sale! You can purchase tickets in person at the box office, by calling the Lobero Theatre box office, or by going to the Lobero website. You should receive an email this week from with which day and time your child is performing — either  June 3 at 2pm or 6pm; or, Sunday, June 4th at 2pm show. More information regarding dress rehearsal dates, volunteer requests and flower orders will be on our website soon under the Performance Tab.


Summer Session 2017 Registration Discounts Before First Week of April

Registration for our 2017 summer program is available at our website. This summer, there will be a Musical Theatre intensive with the theme of “A Summer Celebration of Broadway”; as well as, our traditional Junior Intensive entitled “Dance Around the World”. Our Dance Camp (6-12 years) in August will be centered around a “Mary Poppins” theme and include a Mini-Dance Camp (3-5 years).


Remember that there is a $50 discount on early tuition for all Summer Registrations received by April 10, 2017,  Please see our website for details and sign up today.


Spring Break Dates 

A reminder that there are no classes between March 27- April 1. Classes resume on Monday, April 3.