NEW DANCES, OLD DANCES AND NEW OLD DANCES

By:  Hal de Becker

 

Las Vegas’s upcoming theater season offers numerous programs certain to appeal to local dance and opera lovers.  Many of the performances will be accompanied by ‘live’ music.

Although it didn’t occur in a theater, one of the outstanding events has already taken place.  Earlier this month the Academy of Nevada Ballet Theatre began its academic season with an open house at its state of the art complex in Summerlin. 

It was attended by hundreds of youngsters and their parents as well as faculty members, administrative leaders, and the Academy’s new directors the illustrious international dance luminaries Monique Meunier and Nilas Martins.  

 

The open house was highlighted by non-stop student performances of varied dance styles including ballet, jazz, hip hop and more (all taught at the Academy) as well as classroom demonstrations, costume displays and an instructive lecture-demo by James Canfield, artistic director of NBT’s professional performing company.

   

NBT’s Executive Director Beth Barbre said that with the appointment of the new directors, facility upgrades to accommodate the hundreds of young dancers, and increased student participation in Nutcracker performances she expects this to be an especially exciting period for the Academy.   

 

Nevada Ballet Theatre’s professional company begins its performance season October 6th and 13th with A Choreographers’ Showcase. Thispopular annual collaboration with Cirque du Soleil will be presented at Treasure Island’s fabulous Mystere Theatre.

 

November 1- 2 the company performs two great ballet classics on the same program:  Swan Lake Act II which includes the romantic White Swan Adagio as well as the dance of the Four Swanlettes, and Sleeping Beauty Act III depicting the sumptuous wedding of Prince Charming and Princess Aurora.

 

Both ballets will have an ideal setting in Reynolds Hall the crowning jewel of The Smith Center. 

 

NBT’s traditional holiday performances of The Nutcracker run from December 14th through the 22nd.  Six of the ten performances are with ‘live’ orchestra.  A ‘Nutcracker’ evening or matinee performance makes a perfect ‘family’ Christmas gift.    

The company’s Spring Finale May 9-10, 2014, will be a full length production of Coppelia choreographed by James Canfield to Leo Delibes’s delightful score.  Coppelia, like the Nutcracker ballet, is based on a tale by E.T.A. Hoffmann and is the first ballet the legendary Anna Pavlova danced in America.

 

The story involves a dotty old dollmaker trying to bring a life-sized doll to life and the two young lovers who, with hilarious results, become embroiled in his efforts. 

 

The performing Arts Center at Ham Hall begins its season’s terpsichorean treats with the exciting Hungarian State Folk Ensemble on September 26th.  The last time the troupe appeared at this venue it ‘brought the house down’ with its exhilarating dancing, vibrant singing, Gypsy orchestra and authentic colorful costumes.

 

On October 18 -19 at Ham Hall, UNLV’s dance department presents Vaslav Nijinsky’s ‘scandalous’ ballet The Afternoon of a Faun set to Debussy’s sensuous score.  Its conclusion was considered extremely controversial at its 1912 premier in Paris: aroused by a passing nymph, the Faun satisfies his amorous desires with a scarf she’s left behind.   

 

What is so distinctive about UNLV’s presentation of ‘Faun’ is that it will be neither a new version nor one based upon memories of the century old work, but an actual reconstruction of the original dance based on the choreographer’s own notations.    

 

It was reconstructed by Ann Hutchinson and Claudia Jeschke who will come to Las Vegas to set it on the UNLV dancers.  ‘Faun’ and the program’s two other works from the period of Diaghilev’s legendary Ballets Russes, will be accompanied by the UNLV Symphony Orchestra. 

 

Louis Kavouras and Cathy Allen have choreographed an original version of The Rite of Spring set to Stravinsky’s revolutionary score.  Both the music and the original Nijinsky choreography created a riot of shouting and blows at the Paris premier in 1913.   

 

Completing UNLV’s intriguing trio of new old dances will be Mother Goose Suite choreographed byDolly Kelepecz and Don Bellamy to a composition of the same name by Maurice Ravel.  The musichad its first premier as a ballet in Paris in 1912 and its melodious score and fairy tale subject matter created no controversy.     

Russia’s Moscow Festival Ballet returns to Ham Hall February 1st, 2014, with a luxurious production of Cinderella. At the same venue on March 8th, 2014, Utah’s Repertory


Dance Theatre, together with dancers drawn from UNLV’s performance majors, presents a contemporary work entitled Elements reflecting earth, air, fire and water.  

The Smith Center hosts Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theatre November 8th , 2013, in a program featuring the late Ulysses Dove’s Bad Blood and a new version of Stravinsky’s Firebird choreographed by the company’s founder/director Bernard Gaddis.  The original Firebird enjoyed immediate success when premiered in 1910 Paris by the Ballets Russes.

 

Opera performances have been a rarity in Las Vegas, but this season The Smith Center presents two operatic concerts.  On September 28, 2013 soprano Suzanne Vinnik, tenor Cody Austin and the Las Vegas Philharmonic under the baton of Case Scaglione perform vocal and orchestral selections by Verdi, Puccini, Mozart and Richard Strauss. 

 

May 1st, 2014, the internationally acclaimed American soprano Renee Fleming makes her first appearance in Las Vegas in a performance ranging from grand opera to songs from the Great American Songbook.

 

December 19 - 23, 2013 at Summerlin Library Theater Las Vegas Ballet Company presents a sparkling Nutcracker production performed by its troupe of talented young dancers.

 

Ticket information: (702); Nevada Ballet Theatre 749-2847; Ham Hall 895-2787; The Smith Center 749-2000; Las Vegas Ballet Co. 275-7876.

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