weather icon Clear

Artists from Nevada Ballet, Cirque team up for show on Las Vegas Strip

For six months, a select number of Las Vegas’ greatest performers have worked to choreograph, direct and produce a show that will stage just three performances.

In one of the most only-in-Las Vegas offerings one can find on the Strip, “A Choreographers’ Showcase” pairs artists from Nevada Ballet Theatre and staff from all facets of Cirque du Soleil to design an annual show centered on celebrating the performers’ expansive talents.

“It’s one of the most unique, special collaborations in existence anywhere,” Nevada Ballet Theatre Artistic Director Roy Kaiser says. “And this is the only place this can happen.”

In its 12th year, choreographers from the two companies are encouraged to embrace the theme “Beyond the Stage” by utilizing unique staging and multimedia elements.

The result is a show of original dance numbers that make use of the artists’ various disciplines, set-design resources and staging of the “Mystere” Theatre at Treasure Island.

‘Taking chances’

As a creative guide for the show, which debuts Sunday, Taras Shevchenko, a performer from Cirque du Soleil’s “Love,” is helping choreographers realize their artistic visions.

In expanding the live performance beyond the stage, choreographers will incorporate video projection. And Shevchenko has been stepping n to help produce the new medium.

For a piece by the ballet’s Jaime DeRocker that plays on the idea of working in a cubicle, Shevchenko coordinated the use of office space to film a video that will air during the performance.

“The main goal is to support them in making sure their vision is presented in fullest,” he says. “It’s about creativity, taking chances.”

Being vulnerable

For her piece “Through Your Eyes,” ballet artist Krista Baker is portraying the story of her relationship with her husband.

“It’s the first personal choreography piece I’ve done,” Baker says. “Usually I’m more abstract. The challenge is being more vulnerable with my choreography.”

To represent establishing a home in the Las Vegas desert after six and a half years of long-distance dating, Baker filmed supplemental footage of her two dancers at the dry lake bed in Sloan.

Set to a slow-moving score, her pas de deux features dancers dreamily swaying and spinning in front of images of the desert at sunset.

As a dancer, Baker looked for artists who could find a personal connection with her choreography.

“I was looking for dancers who could show emotion off the bat, without forcing it out of them,” she says. “I want them to take what I give them and make it their own.”

Thinking globally

Arnaud Boursain, a performer in “Zumanity,” and his co-choreographer Alexis Ochin often build pieces that center on larger, global issues.

“Our first pieces were more contemplative, more a song for hope,” Ochin says. “This one is a raging call for sanity.”

In “Hubris,” the duo intends to confront audiences with the realities of climate change. The piece opens with a large red curtain rising to reveal the bodies of the dancers, meant to represent the issues humankind faces in our treatment of the Earth.

“In French, ‘entertainment’ is the same word as ‘diversion,’ ” Ochin says. “When we hear ‘entertainment,’ we think ‘what don’t you want to look at?’ Art has to make you think and question you.”

The piece requires their ballet and circus dancers to not only dance, but to perform in a more theatrical style than they may have before.

In his second year with “A Choreographers’ Showcase,” “Hubris” is challenging ballet artist Robert Mulvey to move and act in new ways.

“I think that’s the breath of the whole program,” Mulvey says. “The only place you learn is outside your comfort zone. So if I just stay in my comfort zone, I’m taking myself out of that.”

For Allison Burke, 27, an ensemble dancer and aerialist with “Love,” the theatrical work is intimidating.

“It’s such a challenge, something I’ve never done before to unwire the ‘prettiness’ of dance and be ugly and act like a buffoon,” Burke says.

She describes the piece as avante-garde, apocalyptic.

“We’re embodying these clown characters and getting this message across that the earth is dying,” she says. “It’s a satire of our current society.”

In the piece, Burke represents a myriad of personalities, all shaping a narrative of buffoonery toward unsustainable global consumption.

“I’m happy to make them think, even if they think I’m ugly,” Burke says. “The bigger goal here than just being pretty on stage is to get the message across.”

‘Perfect collaboration’

Rather than just convey a thematic element, Ochin and Boursain’s secondary goal with “Hubris” is to conceal who may come from ballet and who may come from circus.

While dancers come from disciplines as far-ranging as hip-hop, contemporary and traditional dance, the choreographers are aiming to create a common language through unified movement.

In France, Ochin and Boursain say that producing a show like “A Choreographers’ Showcase” would be difficult if not impossible, but it is uniquely suited for Las Vegas.

“Vegas is a nest for creativity,” Ochin says. “You have artists from all over the globe and a chance to put everything in a big cooker. And you have this perfect collaboration in Vegas. It’s a country of yes.”

Contact Janna Karel at jkarel@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jannainprogress on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Binion's debuts a spinning bar overlooking Fremont Street Experience
Binion's debuted its spinning bar inside the Whiskey Licker Up Saloon. The Rotating bar only goes at one full rotation per 15 minutes overlooking the Fremont Street Experience. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Green Eggs and Ham at Carson Kitchen in Las Vegas
Scott Simon, executive chef at Carson Kitchen in Las Vegas, makes a Green Eggs and Ham Flatbread with pistou, smoked mozzarella, tasso ham and eggs. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Lemon Semifreddo Dessert at Vetri Cucina in Las Vegas
Ashley Costa, pastry chef at Vetri Cucina at the Palms in Las Vegas, freezes lemon curd with whipped cream, sandwiches it between polenta-based crumiri cookies, sprinkles it with powdered sugar and drizzles it with argrumato, a lemon olive oil. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Hard Rock Memorabilia Exhibition
The 2,600-square-foot exhibit, which is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays to Mondays through Jan. 31, spans eras and genres alike. There are numerous rare and never-before-seen items here, featuring artists from ZZ Top to Nine Inch Nails, Bo Diddley to Britney Spears. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Museum of Selfies coming to Las Vegas - VIDEO
The interactive attraction offers several new selfie opportunities. (Museum of Selfies)
Show of Strength in 'A Choreographers Showcase' - VIDEO
"A Choreographers Showcase" pairs artists from Nevada Ballet Theater and staff from all facets of Cirque du Soleil to design an annual show. (Elizabeth Page Brumleyy/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
David Chang talks about what to expect at his new restaurant, Majordomo Meat & Fish - VIDEO
David Chang tells fans what to expect at his new restaurant, Majordomo Meat & Fish, at The Venetian on the Las Vegas Strip. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pink Lady and Rosey Mary cocktails at Therapy in Las Vegas
Terence Beach, bartender at Therapy restaurant in Las Vegas, makes original pink cocktails to benefit breast cancer research. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Torrijas dessert served at Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill in Las Vegas
Chef Christian Lee of Sugarcane at The Venetian in Las Vegas makes a dessert of torrijas, a Latin French toast, serving it with a caramelized-apple sauce and cinnamon ice cream. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
David Chang to sell Tasty Patties at Palazzo in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Chef David Chang has announced a casual concept that will accompany his new Majordomo Meat & Fish at Palazzo on the Las Vegas Strip. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Latkes, tzimmes at Market Place Buffet in Las Vegas for Rosh Hashanah
Ryan Swanson, Market Place Buffet room chef at the JW Marriott/Rampart Casino in Las Vegas, makes potato dishes as part of the resort’s Rosh Hashanah buffet. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
How Elphaba In "Wicked" turns green - VIDEO
Mariand Torres gets "painted" by makeup supervisor Joyce McGilberry for her role as Elphaba in "Wicked" at The Smith Center. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Hangover is served at The Crack Shack in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Khine Moore, executive chef at The Crack Shack at Park MGM in Las Vegas, makes The Hangover with a fried chicken breast or thigh dipped in honey-butter, sprinkled with Crack Seasoning and topped with an egg. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dessert Before Dinner winner Becky Quan
Nine of Las Vegas’ top women pastry chefs offered original creations built around Girl Scouts Trefoils shortbread cookies Saturday night at Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada’s annual Desserts Before Dinner Gala. The top dessert, as voted on by the audience, was an homage to Good Humor’s old-fashioned Strawberry Shortcake ice cream bars created by NoMad’s Becky Quan. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Chef Sammy D is cooking again in Las Vegas
Sam DeMarco served his first public meal since returning to Las Vegas on Sunday, with a pop-up brunch at 7th & Carson. And the veteran of the First Food & Bar, Rattlecan and Sam’s American has more in store for the downtown spot. The chef, known as Sammy D. to his friends, is taking on a consulting chef role with restaurant that will see some of Sunday’s offerings added to the regular menu. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Carl’s Donuts in Las Vegas celebrates National Cream-Filled Doughnut Day
Carl’s Donuts, a Las Vegas-based company that’s been serving the city since 1966, celebrates National Cream-Filled Doughnut Day with specialties themed to fall. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rick Harrison of "Pawn Stars" has a new store - VIDEO
Rick Harrison, the Pawn Stars co-star and owner of Gold & Silver Pawn, talks to the Review-Journal’s John Katsilometes about his soon-to-open Rick’s Collection retail outlet of mostly mid-century masterworks at the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pok Pok Wing at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas serves Pad Thai Thamadaa - VIDEO
Because of popular request, the 1-year-old Pok Pok Wing at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas serves Pad Thai Thamadaa, with shrimp, ground pork, neither or both. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trial by Fire cocktail at the Golden Tiki in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Adam Rains, head bartender (also Grand Poobah and a few other things) at The Golden Tiki in Las Vegas, makes one of the bar’s tiki drinks, (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gordon Ramsay renovating Las Vegas steakhouse - VIDEO
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is preparing to re-launch his Paris Las Vegas restaurant, Gordon Ramsay Steak. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cats owners compete for top show awards
The annual Jazzy Cats event is taking place at the Rio Convention Center this weekend attracting cats owners from around the country and the world to compete for the top show awards. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brooklyn Bowl in Las Vegas serves blackened Cajun catfish - VIDEO
Troy Remer, sous chef at Brooklyn Bowl at The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas, blackens Cajun catfish on the grill before serving it with mashed potatoes and collard greens. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Gold Encrusted Filet Mignon at Mr. Chow - VIDEO
This just may be the gold standard for the filet mignon. Mr. Chow at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas has introduced The Gold Encrusted Filet Mignon, which is coated with real 24-karat gold. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Working as a mermaid in Las Vegas - VIDEO
McKenzie Kawano works as a mermaid at the aquarium at the Silverton in Las Vegas. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pinkbox Doughnuts opens third store in Las Vegas area
Las Vegas-based Pinkbox Doughnuts, which opened its third store at 9435 W. Tropicana Ave., specializes in doughnuts such as the new Station Wagon, with Butterfinger; pink-velvet Pretty in Pink; and hybrid Glazed DoughCro Bites. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal, with image courtesy of Pinkbox Doughnuts
Starbucks brings back Pumpkin Spice early
Starbucks declares Aug. 27 the first day of fall as they make their pumpkin spice items available a full month early. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bachelor Party Fra Diavolo at Carmine’s in Las Vegas
Roberto Leon, a line cook at Carmine’s at The Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas, makes Bachelor Party Fra Diavolo with eight pounds of lobster, a pound each of mussels, clams and shrimp, two pounds of pasta and two gallons of sauce. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
'American Idol' auditions in Las Vegas
“American Idol” was in Las Vegas Monday looking for singers to compete in its upcoming 2020 season. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegan part of the Harlem Globetrotters
Scooter Christensen, who grew up in Las Vegas, will play with the Harlem Globetrotters at The Orleans in Las Vegas Sunday, Aug. 25. (Mat Luschek / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MSG Sphere at The Venetian to cost $1.2B plus
Scheduled to open in 2021, it is expected to be busier than Madison Square Garden in New York. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)