Santa Barbara Dance Theater director Christopher Pilafian posed the question “What part do art and artists play in the face of tragedy and loss?” as he, the company and guest artists were putting together their January show in the midst of fire and storm in December. Like many before them, they decided the show must go on, bringing people together to find some joy and affirmation of the human spirit after loss and sorrow. Some of the pieces they were working on were well suited to the goal of seeking to heal through artistic expression. Pilafian’s “Toggle “began the show with what could be seen as an energetic celebration of survival propelled by live music courtesy of Jon Nathan leading members of the UCSB Percussion Ensemble. Miche Wong choreographed and danced “Aspara” in collaboration with local artist Mary Heebner whose paintings and poetry formed the basis of the piece, inspired by a huge bas relief at Angkor Wat depicting the Thai origin myth “The Churning of the Sea of Milk,” symbolizing the struggle between good and evil and finding what has been lost. The huge projected paintings of swirling, turbulent waters couldn’t but bring to mind the all too recent flooding in Montecito. Faculty member Nancy Colahan’s “Déja Vu for Strings and Percussion” set to music by Gianna Abondolo and danced by the UCSB Dance Company was second on the program, a revisiting of Nancy’s and Gianna’s collaboration in the past, looking back and looking forward. Guest artist Jacquilyn Buglisi and her company Buglisi Dance Theater presented her piece “Requiem” which she created in response to 9/11. Even the final piece, Andrea Shermoly’s “Mooonscapes,” referenced a desolate place, though with a great deal of humor and inventiveness. The program was a moving tribute to artistic vision, passion and perserverance.