Premiering 1989 in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Ojai and Salt Lake City, SERAGLIO is a three-act folkloric ballet about star-crossed lovers in early twentieth century Istanbul. It is the story of a Turkish girl and Greek boy who fall in love, despite their cultural and class differences and decide to risk everything to be together. She is the youngest daughter of the wealthy Turman family and he is a poor Greek immigrant who seeks a better life in the metropolis of Istanbul. When their relationship is discovered, they are forced to face the reality that their love and their lives are threatened.
Through the lens of the Aegean conflict, Seraglio reflects the hardship of young lovers who bare the cross of forbidden love in a multicultural society; it reflects the age-old struggle of immigrants to assimilate. Like Romeo and Juliet or Tony and Maria of West Side Story, Seraglio tells the age-old story of star-crossed lovers from a fresh perspective, and in a new style - folk dance, thus disrupting the status quo of dance theater as a European art. With 40 dancers, actors and a snake, elaborate sets and a grand score, Seraglio brings all the power and passion of Greek and Turkish music and dance to the stage.
1989: The first members of the UCSB Middle East Ensemble.
L to R: Mr. Koorosh Haghighat-Kish, Dr. Scott Marcus, Rebekah Scogin, Brad Wright, Alexandra King and Susan Rudnicki
Writer, Choreographer, Producer
Based in Santa Barbara, CA., Alexandra King is a recognized and highly regarded Middle Eastern dance artist throughout the United States. Since opening her school 1981, Alexandra King Dance has entertained audiences, trained students and inspired appreciation for and understanding of the diverse arts and cultures of the Middle East. She has worked internationally as a performer, choreographer, producer and teacher, and has traveled extensively throughout North Africa and the Middle East to observe and study the dances of these regions.
Her training includes ballet, pointe, tap, Middle Eastern folk dances, classical Persian dance, Polynesian dance, flamenco, Bharata Natyam and four styles of cabaret dance. From 2000-2004 she was a lecturer in the UCSB Department of Dramatic Arts and Dance teaching Dances of the Middle East.
In 1989 she co-founded the UCSB Middle East Ensemble with Dr. Scott Marcus and was its dance director until 2010 when she retired from the Ensemble. During her tenure as the dance director, she developed a broad repertoire of dance styles from throughout the Middle East. In 2023 she returned as its director.
She currently works as a freelance instructor, performer and choreographer and has returned to Direct the UCSB Middle East Dance Ensemble.
Her future plans include writing a screenplay about the ballet and make it a film. She is also planning on opening an accredited college of world dance and music, where artists can learn their craft, as well as the business of art and theater in the genre of their choice, without being limited to learning within the confines of European styles.
About Alexandra King Dance
World Peace and Prosperity through World Dance and Music.
To preserve and elevate world dance arts, and to broaden appreciation, equity and inclusiveness for all dance art.
1. To produce a spectacular folkloric ballet that exceeds expectations of the public, the media and the art world.
2. To contribute to a revival of cultural dance and music events in Santa Barbara, including festivals, theater performances, club events and restaurant floor shows.
3. To set a precedent for other world dance artists to create dance theater.
4. To establish MOSAIC, A World Dance and Music Festival in Santa Barbara that mimics the SF Ethnic Dance Festival and, like the (SFEDF), puts Santa Barbara on the map as a destination city for world art and culture.
Art exposes us to viewpoints and realities that are unfamiliar, and by considering them, we transcend our own world and connect with others'. Any dance style is art if it lifts the soul, moves the viewer and changes they way they see life and the world, for the better.
The Production Team
Dancers are a peculiar tribe of performing artists; they work harder than any other performing artists - physically, emotionally and mentally- no matter what style they belong to. A dancer is first an athlete,
but also a musician and an actor. Most of the people on the production team of Seraglio are accomplished dancers who bring their own passion and skill set to the production. I am grateful to have them on the production team and I applaud them as I applaud the artists on the stage.
Assistant Artistic Director
Marketing and Branding