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I’m headed down to Santa Barbara to see what Aszure Barton and her New York-based company are creating at Santa Barbara DANCEworks.  DANCEworks is a new month-long residency and commissioning program started by Dianne Vapnek, who over a decade of producing the Santa Barbara SUMMERDANCE festival displayed a distinct taste for sexy, edgy, humorous choreographers, among them Doug Elkins, Doug Varone, and the rising talk of New York in recent seasons, Larry Keigwin.

Barton was a personal favorite of mine among the roster of past SUMMERDANCE presentations. One of the first artists in residence at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, she toured to California three years ago with works created for Baryshnikov. Overwhelmed by her aching but quirky treatment of Martynov’s beautiful score “Come In!” I flailed for words in the SF Chronicle and said simply that she is “clearly brilliant.”

She and her company are now in the midst of a full month’s unfettered creative time at the charming Lobero Theater; I’ll be seeing what Aszure & Artists have cooked up at work-in-progress performances (which will also include past Barton works) Friday and Saturday.

Santa Barbara DANCEworks, meanwhile, has space and support secured for three years, and plans already in the works to grant another choreographer a full month of creative time on the Lobero’s stage in 2010. As though Santa Barbara itself weren’t enticing enough, DANCEworks is really worth checking out.

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