Spirit of Fiesta Auditions on Saturday

Spirit of Fiesta Auditions on Saturday title=
Spirit of Fiesta Auditions on Saturday
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Norma Escárcega and Eve Flores (Photo: Fritz Olenberger, courtesy of Old Spanish Days)

Source: Old Spanish Days

One of the most anticipated events of the Fiesta year takes place next Saturday, April 14, as a total of 20 dancers aged 8 to 20 audition for the coveted titles of Spirit and Junior Spirit of Fiesta 2018. The event begins at 12 noon at La Cumbre Jr. High School.

For the first time, this year’s Spirit Auditions will include a male participant in each of the two categories – one vying to be named Spirit and another Jr. Spirit. In all, 11 dancers will participant in the Spirit category, and another 9 in the Jr. Spirit category.

The Spirit of Fiesta tradition began in 1949. The Junior Spirit was first introduced in 1965. The Spirit and Junior Spirit of Fiesta serve as goodwill ambassadors to local residents and visitors alike, and they perform at multiple private and public Fiesta events throughout the year. Traditionally, the Spirit, dressed in white, leads El Desfile Histórico while the Junior Spirit leads the Fiesta Children’s Parade in like fashion.

“It all began 69 years ago with our first Spirit Lia Parker leading the way,” said this year’s Fiesta La Presidenta Denise Sanford. “Our Spirits embody the true meaning of Fiesta. They serve as goodwill ambassadors to our community and visitors. They are role models to their peers. Our Spirits are forever part of our Fiesta family.”

The Spirit Auditions signify the official change over from the previous year’s Spirits. In 2017, Norma Escárcega and Eve Flores were the Spirit and Junior Spirit of Fiesta respectively.

Norma Escárcega and Eve Flores (Photo: Fritz Olenberger, courtesy of Old Spanish Days)

For the Auditions, the OSD Spirit Committee works hard to ensure that every entrant has an equal, fair and honest opportunity to be selected that year’s Spirit or Junior Spirit. Information about those auditioning to be a Fiesta Spirit is a tight kept secret. Except for name, all information about the contestant is withheld from the judges who are kept anonymous to assure impartiality. The interview judges are selected from within the community. None of the judges are involved with Old Spanish Days as a board member or in another capacity.

Every spring, the Audition to chose that year’s Spirits is intense as the contestants perform before a lively packed audience.

“The Spirit auditions are so exciting,” said Michelle Bischoff, 2018 OSD Fiesta Division Chief for Dance and Entertainment. “It is the day that the participant gets to showcase all of their hard work preparing for this performance, on stage in front of the judges and their supporting family and friends.”

The Spirits Audition is multi-faceted – an interview followed by a dance performance. Each entrant is first interviewed by a judging panel focusing on the participant’s ability to present themself in a confident manner, including poise, ease of speaking in public, stage presence, sincerity and spontaneity.

In the dance portion of the contest, a separate panel of judges grades the contestants. Each participant displays their ability to improvise within the promenade portion, and then dances a solo that is judged for Rhythm and Timing, Technique, Interpretation, and appropriate or effective costuming for the selected genre of dance.  Several genres of dance can be represented including folklorico, Spanish classical and flamenco.

Old Spanish Days Fiesta is one of the country’s largest regional festivals, and has been an important historic and economic element of the Santa Barbara community since 1924. This year, the Fiesta “week” runs from Sunday, July 29, 2018 through Sunday, August 5, 2018.

For tickets to Fiesta events, please visit Night Out or contact the OSD office at 805.966.8101.

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