Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dancing ... with stars and scarves


“Dancing with the Stars” has been one of the biggest hits on television since the reality show hit the airwave a couple of years ago.
While Santa Barbara’s version of the competition can’t boast sports heroes, Hollywood superstars, famous others or other world renown celebrities, we do have something you can’t get in a stuffy back lot studio: the gorgeous climate of Santa Barbara.
Hence, “Dancing Under the Stars,” the second annual benefit for the Make a Wish Foundation of the Tri-Counties, which takes place Sunday night at the Fess Parker Doubletree Resort’s outdoor rotunda.

The event features four local celebrities paired with instructors from Arthur Murray Dance Studios of Santa Barbara & Thousand Oaks competing for the title.
This year’s participants include Irene Robles, Ty Warner’s executive assistant, who will dance salsa with Ricardo Razo; Mark Whitehurst, owner/publisher of CASA magazine, who will dance the waltz with Staci Thorne; Ally De la Cruz, Assistant Student Leadership Coordinator at UCSB, paired with Felipe Castenada for the rumba; and Josue Cono, a personal trainer in Ventura who will do the cha-cha with Sydni Afman.
Just as on the competition, criteria for winning include input from the ou-site judges – including Christian Perry, a professional who does similar work at professional competitions and has been associated with “Dancing with the Stars” – plus “votes” in the form of contributions and tickets sold by the contestants.
But the audience on Sunday night will be the final arbiters in deciding who will win the competition. Attendees will also enjoy hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, silent auction, and use of the dance floor before and after the competition.
Dancers from the studios will also be highlighted in a program showing off the various styles of dance they teach at Arthur Murray. Last year featured a fully choreographed number using all the dance instructors. in a jitterbug.
Last year’s winner, publicist Mo McFadden, raved that the show was the most fun I’ve had that was legal in a long time.”
The action gets underway at 6 p.m. Tickets are $75 advance, $80 at the door. INFO: 963-6658 or


If ballroom dancing seems too staid, there’s also a more exotic alternative this weekend. “Moon Over Morocco.” the seventh annual Santa Barbara Middle East Festival, boasts two days full of dance workshops, drum & belly dance lessons, arts, crafts, lectures and yummy food from the region all available in a souk, a Middle Eastern marketplace, all at the Carrillo Recreation Center.
Both novice and experienced dancers should find something suitable, and not all the dancing involves shimmying with scarves. There’s also the Middle Eastern folk dances, which are akin to country line dancing.
Tomorrow night at 8, a concert featuring Santa Barbara’s superstars and visiting artists highlights the weekend. Local belly dance impresario Alexandra King hosts the activities and performs along with other Santa Barbara dancers Elizabeth Strong and Tamra-Henna. The festival takes place tomorrow 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are just $5, or $30 for the concert ($25 with festival hand stamp). Get full details and a schedule online at or call 687-8823.


On your mark, get set…get out of town: No, not to Beijing; the Olympics end this weekend. But a road trip up to San Francisco may be in order for the Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival at Golden Gate Park. The line-up of pop acts is truly impressive:
Today’s headliners include Radiohead, Beck, Steel Pulse and the Black Keys. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, Primus, Cake, Steve Winwood, Devandra Banhart, Abigail Washburn and M. Ward are among tomorrow’s big acts and Jack Johnson, Wilco, Widespread Panic, Toots & the Maytals and Santa Barbara’s own ALO take the stage on Sunday.
Tickets are $225.50 for a three-day general admission pass, $85 for a single-day ticket.
Get tickets, details and a full schedule online at

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