Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater

 

By Hal de Becker

 

It was literally ‘standing room only’ at the West Las Vegas Library Theatre recently when Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater presented a program entitled “Love with LVCDT.”Bernard H. Gaddis is the company’s founding artistic director and a former principal dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. As well as directing LVCDT he is a featured dancer in “Mystere” at Treasure Island.His troupe was founded in 2007 and, in addition to its local engagements, has already performed in New York City and Mexico.

 

Although ‘Love’s’ emphasis was on contemporary dance styles, its 14 talented dancers appeared to be classically trained, for in many instances the choreography had a ballet foundation the challenges of which they met admirably.

 

Most of the numbers were set to love songs and, of course, many of them dealt with broken hearts and betrayals.Some of the dancers were mature artists and their dramatic interpretations were especially deep and moving.

 

Jason James Skinner: Photographer

 

Particularly memorable were finely crafted and superbly performed solos by Eddie Otero passionately longing for his absent lover in “Ain’t No Sunshine,” and Agnes Roux resigned to her lover’s cheating in “Don’t Explain,” and irresistibly provocative in“Come on Strong.” A duet with Mr. Gaddis and Heather Farrell to “Baby You Got What It Takes” was joyously lighthearted as was “L.O.V.E.” danced by Mr. Otero, Mr. Pantoja, Antoine Banks-Sullivan and Emanuelle Mirabal-Torres.

 

The most compelling work among those for smaller groups was the trio “Sacrifus” in which a love duet between two males is observed by an anguished woman in love with one (or both?) of them.It was performed with riveting intensity by Mr. Gaddis, Mr. Pantoja and Danielle Howard.

 

In works for the full ensemble, the dancing, like the choreography, was exemplary.It’s difficult to imagine movements more lyrical than those devised for “Mood Indigo” or more gleeful than the updated, 1960’s popular dances of “Papa Got a Brand New Bag.” The tongue in cheek formality of “Opulence,” was heightened by delightfully bizarre costuming with the ladies in short fluffy skirts and the men bare legged but wearing courtiers’ jackets.“Fever” was exciting and the afro-Cuban, “Rhythm 101,” even more so. Credit for choreography wasn’t indicated in the playbill.

 

Mr. Gaddis appeared in several works and his dancing was flawless. His technique in all disciplines was full and secure and the freedom and quality of his movement unique.He seemed to be a man born to dance.

 

Jason James Skinner: Photographer

 

The program was generous -- perhaps too much so: twenty three different numbers were presented and, inevitably, there was some repetition and not all the pieces attained the same high choreographic level. Contrary to a statement in the playbill, Las Vegas has had other professional contemporary dance companies: ‘New Works Project’ and ‘Opus’ both flourished here in the 1980’s and 90’s.

 

Lighting and staging were excellent with the dancers’ entrances and exits set in a way that made the company look twice as large.Costuming ranged from the elaborate, as in “Mood Indigo,” to the brief trunks of “Sacrifus.”

Mr. Gaddis gave a short talk at the performance and expressed his dedication to having LVCDT enhance Las Vegas’ image and create a wider appreciation of the City’s artistic potential.That mission deserves community and corporate support.

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