Kelly Roth, 65, of Centennial Hills started his path in dance long before it took him across the world, he said. He was a young teen in Phoenix when he realized he wanted to pursue it as a career.
“I had karate training, so I could pick up movement,” Roth said. “One day, I saw some real masculine boys practicing ballet and I thought it was interesting. I started going to ballet classes with this girl I liked at 17. I was the only man there, but that’s where it started.”
Roth, also director of the dance program at the College of Southern Nevada, was in the audience at the Summerlin Library on July 26 and watched more than 40 dancers practice for a performance for the 21st annual Las Vegas Dance in the Desert Festival.
Roth founded the festival in 1999 alongside Kyla Quintero, a Strip dancer and choreographer he knew. The festival gave dancers a place to express themselves, Roth said.
“It gave dancers someplace to express the first kind of motivations they had when they became dancers,” Roth said. “We had it at CSN for a long time before coming here to the library. The event is free and open to the public each year.”
Elisa Marie Reed, one of the dancers performing at the two-day festival, traveled from Phoenix to participate.
“I came here last year to present my first work,” said Reed, 34. “It was such a great experience, and everyone was so nice and welcoming and very open to whatever you have to bring. I really like the community here. We all move and work well together.”
Reed said the festival is an opportunity for her to bring work to an audience that normally wouldn’t see it.
“This isn’t a Phoenix audience,” Reed said. “It’s nice to test things out on an audience who have no idea who you are. I like to see how other people are taking in my work.”