NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
By: Hal de Becker
Sun City’s Sumerlin’s Starbright Theatre and the Gateway Arts Foundation hosted the debut of what could be a new local dance troupe. It certainly had enough talent for it.
The program, entitled A Love For Dance, was eclectic and spanned classical ballet to hip hop with contemporary and ballroom in between.
The performance was the brain child of Mary La Croix and her husband Barrington Lohr. The couple recently founded the Las Vegas Dance Academy where they train dancers of all ages.
For their first performance they gathered together 10 other professional dancers whose credits include major Las Vegas productions such as Nevada Ballet Theatre, Cirque du Soleil, Jubilee and Vegas! The show, among others.
Although Mary and Barrington created most of the choreography, the other dancers made significant contributions and the show appeared to a labor of love for them all.
The 14 dances had recorded musical accompaniment that included something for everyone. For the younger set there were James Brown, Marvin Gaye and a sparkling hip hop medley. The earlier generation had Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole while the classicists took special enjoyment from Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev. And of course the Beatles delighted everyone.
Two of the highlights were Mary’s solos as Aurora from Sleeping Beauty and as Juliet from Romeo and Juliet. Her warm charm and technical assurance invested both roles. In three romantic duets performed with Barrington, her sensitivity to mood and music were evident.
Elizabeth Linstruth and Amy Von Handorf were outstanding. Both were former NBT dancers. Equally impressive were Yui Tadorkoro who performed with the Alvin Ailey Company and Dempsey Ward a product of the famed Joffrey Ballet School. Valerie Vogan, though still a teenager danced with an ease and maturity beyond her years.
A special treat was provided by The Collective, a dazzling hip hop troupe that performed as a guest company within the company. The lead dancer was Jaffar Smith and what a dancer he was. His eccentric, innovative, but always musically inspired moves, together with his vivacious and engaging personality, captivated everyone in the audience.
He was ably supported by Ward, Marlina Bugler, Imani Chaisson, Sean Kinney, Jose Soto, Jayson Sana, Nicolette Pantaleo and Alana Bernstein.
In a compelling solo to the song That’sLife, Avree Walker’s strength, control and wide open freedom of movement was powerfully effective.
He is now a professional dancer on the Strip but even in the past as a student at UNLV his dancing was always noteworthy.
Another remarkable performance came from Tyrell Rolle in a duet with Ward. This exciting dancer seemed to devour the stage with dramatic intensity and wide soaring leaps. His charisma and projection would have reached the topmost balcony of a major concert hall.
The company’s future concerts are eagerly awaited.