Mestre Mariano Silva, a dancer and student of the Brazilian martial art capoeira, has always believed that "if you can walk, then you can dance." This positivity permeates everything he does, from his work with underprivileged youth to his time professionally dancing. It was this contagious optimism that caught the attention of master Amen Santo in Brazil, who invited him to tour globally with the renowned Ballet Folclorico do Brasil. As it turned out, Mariano was a huge hit, playing to sold-out crowds all over the world. His skill and popularity on the stage led Amen to convince him to relocate to Southern California and bring his passion for Afro-Brazilian dance to the States. Today, Mariano owns Capoeira Batuque Santa Barbara along with the Brazilian Cultural Arts Center of Santa Barbara, sharing his talents and affirmative worldview with adults and children through a slew of classes and community-outreach programs.
Each of mestre Mariano's fast-paced classes introduces pupils to the rhythmic techniques and cultural significance of traditional Afro-Brazilian dance forms. Capoeira—considered Brazil's second national sport—fuses martial-arts techniques with the rhythmic and collaborative elements of dance. He teaches stylistic combat maneuvers, which weave in aerial acrobatics and various instruments. During his Afro-Brazilian dance class, he'll calibrate students' hips to swivel to movements that fuse traditional African dance with Brazilian moves, and in his Samba classes, he introduces students to the history, culture, and traditions inextricably linked to each movement. He also lets dancers try their hand or fourth toe at banging timbaus, repiniques, and other Brazilian drums in the Brazilian batucada drumming course.
Yasa Yoga’s name comes from the Sanskrit words for “good-hearted,” a reflection of the studio’s noncompetitive, welcoming community of yogis and instructors. They gather to practice in a red-tiled, Mission-style building originally constructed in 1912. Husband-and-wife duo Ryan and Stephanie Besler lead a majority of the classes, accommodating students of all skill levels with a variety of yoga styles. During Yasa Basics classes, students absorb foundational yoga poses and breathing techniques in a naturally lit practice space with 20-foot arched ceilings. Yasa Flow yoga instructors crank up the room temperature to bolster flexibility and teach challenging, inverted moves during workouts suited to intermediate stretchers. Students also gather inside the building—Charlie Chaplin’s former home and production studio—for a variety of other classes such as prenatal, deep-stretch, and flow-style sessions.
Though each course strengthens core muscles and focuses the brain, students also calm their minds with meditation or revel in the camaraderie of like-minded classmates as they learn to control their breathing or tendency to constantly blurt out their credit-card numbers.
All 78 acres of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden are bursting with life. More than 1,000 species of native Californian plants and regional flora line its 5.5 miles of serene, public trails, allowing visitors to witness the overwhelming diversity of the Pacific coastline's plant life. Along with stands of oaks and riparian woodlands, botanical collections inhabit precisely arranged landscapes, echoing the founders' goal from 1926 to create a garden that would "unite the aesthetic, educational and scientific." In 2003, Santa Barbara County rewarded the garden's decades of cultural and scientific contributions, granting County Historic Landmark status to 23 of the acres.
The garden's specimens and displays exist just as much for education as they do for appreciation. Guests can gather landscaping ideas from the Home Demonstration Garden, a cottage surrounded with water-conserving plants. The Japanese Teahouse and Demonstration Garden melds traditional East Asian design with California-native flora. Throughout the grounds, tour guides dispense invaluable information on the displays and the retired tree nymphs that tend them. Additionally, scientific researchers use the facilities in their efforts to both study and conserve numerous rare and endangered species.
Once a costumer for TV shows including House and Weeds, Tami Macala switched careers midstream when she discovered the art of creating mosaics, according to a Santa Barbara Sentinel profile. She started mosaicking everything from fireplaces to fountains to other, lesser mosaics, eventually landing high-profile projects at the Florida Ritz-Carlton Hotel and Arby?s restaurants.
After more than a decade of working as a professional mosaic artist, Tami opened the Santa Barbara School of Mosaic Art (SBSMA). At the school, Tami and guest artists from near and far teach how to trick out tables with colorful shingles, coax gently luminous Mexican smalti into intricate patterns, or fuse glass for even more complex designs. Students can pick up tools and tiles at the SBSMA supply store and drop by during lab hours to work on independent projects.
In 1917, the Ranger was a sport-fishing yacht—the first built on the West Coast—that hosted celebrities trying their luck at snagging tuna, swordfish, and other swimmers. Flash forward nearly a century, and the Ranger is now a lure, one of several vintage boats that entice visitors to the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum. Inside a former Naval Reserve building, the museum traces the history of the California Coast seas, from cannons to seaplanes and surfing to the environment. The Munger Theater brings the sea to life with films that could feature maritime history or a trip around the coast, and lectures and other events further enrich the experience.
For more than 20 years, Channel Islands Outfitters's Paddle Sports Center has helped humans commune with nature through their guided expeditions, courses, and gear rentals. Their expert guides lead kayakers and hikers to California destinations such as Anacapa Island and Santa Cruz Island, where explorers enjoy picturesque scenery and native wildlife that haven’t yet learned about sarcasm. The outdoor fitness center also offers instruction for outdoorsmen ranging from courses that cultivate Wilderness First Responders to lessons in the art of standup paddleboarding. Meanwhile, their surf shop doles out aquatic equipment such as surfboards, paddleboards, and an array of kayaks that are available in single-seat or tandem models.