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Nevada Ballet Theatre to honor 2 longtime community leaders at gala

Updated April 8, 2021 - 11:48 am

Years ago, Larry Ruvo convinced Nevada Ballet Theatre co-founder Nancy Houssels to change up the choreography in the company’s Woman of the Year honor at its annual Black & White Gala.

“I watched Nancy work tirelessly with the amount of hours she put in, her financial support, creativity, in these events,” Ruvo said during a phone chat this week. “I finally said, ‘People like entertainers, and a big component for this award could be the celebrities. You should start looking in that direction.’”

NBT took heed and shifted to a star-driven strategy, honoring Debbie Reynolds in 2001, the first Black & White Gala after that conversation. Over the years, the ballet company has honored such celebs as Celine Dion, Bette Midler, Marie Osmond and Priscilla Presley, through Shania Twain’s honor in January 2020.

But during the pandemic reopening, NBT has now spun full circle in honoring Larry and Camille Ruvo in a return to recognizing community leaders. The 37th Annual Black & White Gala is set for May 1 at Wynn Pavilion at Wynn Las Vegas. The event is open to the public, go to nevadaballet.org for info.

The event is the first to be held primarily outdoors, at a reduced capacity, and also the first to honor a couple. That makes Mr. Ruvo the first male ever to be honored by the NBT, as every honoree since Elaine Wynn in 1985 has been female.

“I didn’t even realize that,” Ruvo said with a chuckle. “But we have been a supporter and a giant fan of Nancy from the inception. We have always supported NBT.”

As Camille Ruvo said, “Nevada ballet Theatre has been around and part of our community and the fabric of our lives for a very long time. Larry and I are thrilled to help support and be the first and help support not only the NBT, but the entire arts and entertainment community.”

The Ruvos are certainly a deserving couple, we say in understatement, as founders of Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. The Ruvos host the Keep Memory Alive Power of Love Gala, setting the standard for celeb philanthropy, which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary.

The ballet, founded in 1972, has has picked up sponsorship from Wynn Las Vegas. NBT board member Todd-Avery Lenahan and his partner, John Gorsuch are honorary Dinner Chairs for the event.

NBT has not expressed whether it will stay with the community-leader emphasis in 2022 or beyond. Houssels is focused on the May 1 event, and recognizing the Ruvos.

“During unprecedented times, it is the strength and heart of a community that shines through. As we look to safely reunite with our supporters for a re-imagined Black & White Ball, we find ourselves truly inspired by the people of Las Vegas,” she said in a statement. “There is no better time like the present to recognize two exemplary individual, Camille and Larry Ruvo, as our inaugural Couple of the Year. Their leadership, outstanding philanthropy, and compassionate commitment to our city gives us hope for a bright future.”

‘Ruff’ cutt

See what I did there?

Paul Shortino has fronted Rough Cutt, along with Quiet Riot and Raiding The Rock Vault in Las Vegas. The ever-rocking vocalist is also a famous lover of canines, and hosting Las Vegas Rockin’ for Dogs fundraiser from 2 p.m.-6 p.m. Sunday outside at the new Boston’s Fish House at Tivoli Village.

Chris Phillips of Zowie Bowie hosts, with musical interludes from Rock Vault alumni Andrew Freeman, Phil Soussan and Shortino himself. The new lineup known as the Dirty Pool Boys Band, DJ Greggy, Jen Romas and members of “Sexxy,” magic man Murray Sawchuck of Laugh Factory at the Trop, dancer and fitness trainer Rico Bozant, the artistic couple Michael and LeeAnn Godard, hypnotist Anthony Cools and Benny the Ice Skating Dog are all listed to appear.

The event is a benefit for Retriever Rescue of Las Vegas, a non-profit, volunteer dog rescue organization that saves canines from awful conditions overseas. Tickets are $20 for GA, $250 for a VIP table of four with sit-down service for food and drinks (including, we are told, some hair o’ the dog).

Go to eventbrite.com and search “Rocking for Dogs” for tickets and info so these pups can find their “FUR-EVER” home. That pun was from the organizers, but we abide.

Cool Hang Alert

Marking a shift in midweek Cool Hangs, the uniformly gifted Anne Martinez’s Red Penny Arcade combo is at Tuscany’s Piazza lounge from 7:30 p.m.-11 p.m. Wednesdays. No cover charge, and no hassles, man.

Martinez is backed by guitar great John Wedemeyer, bass master Peter Fand and thumping drummer Mikey J. Moreno. Sitting in from time to time on keys are frequent Martinez collaborator Dan Ellis, and Barry Manilow’s music director Joey Melotti.

The act steps in for Kelly Clinton-Holmes, who held down the Wednesday night spot for about four years but has been recovering from the effects of COVID. She’s not performing until further notice. But the scene she created, Wednesdays at Tuscany’s Piazza, remains a Cool Hang destination.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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