Joyous. Experimental. Vibrant.
Those three words describe “A Choreographers’ Showcase,” the collaboration of the Nevada Ballet Theatre and Cirque du Soleil on Sunday at the Mystere Theatre in Treasure Island.
It’s a joy to watch the mingling of dancers from the two companies. When this grand experiment wobbled to its feet six years ago, it was easy to spot the differences by body type and movement style.
But now, the companies blend effortlessly. The dancers from the Nevada Ballet and Cirque move comfortably outside their comfort zones — modern, jazz, tap, break dancing, contact improvisation, acrobatics and, yes, ballet. Without a program, you’d be hard-pressed to tell which dancers came from what company.
But true to its name, this showcase turns the spotlight on the choreographers. And they shine brightly as they explore a variety of styles in nine new pieces.
James Cleary laid down the groove in the opener, “Haute Couture,” growing balletic elements into thumping electro funk.
Terane Comito opened the door on tomorrow with “Shine Bright,” giving star turns to a stage full of Future Dance Scholars. A real crowd-pleaser.
Dany Rabello gave the audience a dose of Cirque with “The Loop,” allowing Nevada Ballet’s Nicole Federov and Hannah Schiller and Cirque’s Alexandru Cibotari to spin and hover above Mystere’s stage. It featured a wonderful abstract score by Scott Bucher and Krystian Sawicki.
Braeden Barnes’ behatted dancers shed twitching shyness for assured elegance in “Us and Them,” reminding a bit of Mikhail Baryshnikov channeling Fred Astaire for Twyla Tharp.
Jacqui Lynn Guimond played for laughs — and won — with “The Ballet,” contrasting ballerinas with a backstage “bunhead.”
Amy Von Handorf tipped her hat to Bob Fosse and Michael Jackson in “Six in Sync,” allowing a sextet of ballerinas to show their pop chops and all that jazz.
Tori Lubecki honored her mother in “The Last Summer,” a beautiful pas de deux by Danielle Dyson and Eric Jeffers. They were joined onstage by cellist Shana Tucker.
Andre Kasten amped up the afternoon with the loud and powerful “Dust Bowl,” all tense contact and taut lines. Sharp performances made this a showstopper.
Jason Nious began his percussive “Ke Nako” by reciting Darrius Gourdine’s poem “Can You Dance?” and then proving he, Isabelle Thomas, Ariel Triunfo and Greg Pennes definitely can.
The program’s finale was a vibrant restaging of Danny Ezralow’s “Read My Hips.”
Ezralow, a Cirque collaborator, choreographed this piece for the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in 1990. It was staged here by Cirque’s David Gomez, who danced the piece with Hubbard Street. Ezralow, who is busy in Russia with the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics, came to Las Vegas to work with the dancers.
Beginning with a single performer dancing in a square of light, it climaxes with 28 dancers swarming the stage. Along the way, “Hips” shakes its way through a delightful mix of styles, illusions and emotions.
This polished piece sets a high bar for the local choreographers, who are on their way to turning their young dances into mature works.
This isn’t a program for fans of traditional story ballets. They’ll have to wait for Nevada Ballet to tackle “Swan Lake” and “Sleeping Beauty” at The Smith Center in November.
But for dance fans who love shorter pieces with an edge, “A Choreographers’ Showcase” provides a sampler of treats.
Deputy Editor Mark Whittington can be reached at email@example.com or 702-387-2909.