Category: Hal de Becker - To The Point



By: Hal de Becker


The Smith Center in downtown Las Vegas and Ham Hall and Beam Music Center on the campus of UNLV are on opposite sides of the City but both present most of the local performances of major touring dance companies and other artistic attractions.


I remember the time when many renowned dance troupes would bypass Las Vegas in the belief – rightly or wrongly – that there was no audience here for ‘high art’. Las Vegans had to travel to Los Angeles, San Francisco and elsewhere to see artists of the Bolshoi, Kirov, Paris Opera Ballet, New York City Ballet and other world class dance companies.

Today, artists from all of the above named troupes and many others perform here regularly.


On January 22nd and 23rd The Joffrey Ballet appears at The Smith Center; January 26 UNLV’s Beam Music Center presents the opera Holodomor; and February 2nd Ham Hall hosts Stars of the Russian Ballet.

In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated_Christine Rocas_Rory Hohenstein_Photo by Herbert Migdoll

The Russian ballet troupe is directed by Sergei Radchenko former principal dancer of the Bolshoi Ballet.In his international performing career he partnered many famed ballerinas including Maya Plisetskaya.


He has founded and directed a number of Russian ballet companies several of which, including Moscow Festival Ballet, have performed at Ham Hall during their USA tours under the auspices of Columbia Artists Management. His troupes have not only included established ballet stars but have also introduced gifted young dancers on their way to stardom.

This latest program can be expected to offer an abundance of grace, elegance and technical fireworks. It includes excerpts from four great classics Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote’, Cinderella and Paquita as well as less-often-seen works The Little Humpbacked Horse, Pas de Quarte and the celebrated Dying Swan solo.


Three works by contemporary choreographers will also be danced: The Quarte and Romeo and Juliet by Elena Radchenko and Allegro by Vitaly Zabelin.


One theatrical art form still neglected locally is opera and that may be changing. Virko Baley’s opera Holodomor will be performed at Beam Music Center prior to its February premiere in New York City and the performance is free to the public.


Holodomor is a surrealistic, often terrifying tale of seduction, Kafkaesque absurdities and redemption in which three starving people meet during the genocidal famine initiated by Josef Stalin in the 1930’s. The title is a combination of two Ukrainian words meaning hunger and extermination.


Principal roles will be taken by tenor John Duykers , soprano Laura Bohn and baritone Tod Fitzpatrick.Mr. Duykers has been critically acclaimed across the country from New York City to San Francisco for his performances in operas by Bizet, Mussorgsky, Richard Strauss and many others.Ms. Bohn’s accolades have come from such prestigious sources as Opera News Magazine and San Francisco Chronicle.


Maestro Baley has been an active conductor and composer in Las Vegas for many years and is a UNLV composer-in-residence.He has introduced local audiences to not only his own compositions but to the works of other outstanding contemporary Ukrainian composers.


Joffrey Ballet, Co-sponsored by Nevada Ballet Theatre and The Smith Center, presents six contemporary-style works spanning the 20th and 21st centuries from Vaslav Nijinsky’s 1913 legendary The Rite of Spring, to the 2012 New Work by Houston Ballet’s acclaimed artistic director Stanton Welch.


Other works include In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated from 1987 by the often controversial but always compelling William Forsythe; After the Rain a 2005 dance by one of today’s most sought after choreographers Christopher Wheeldon; and the 2008 award winning Age of Innocence by Edward Liang.


The only work to be presented both evenings is the program’s major attraction The Rite of Spring which, together with Igor Stravinsky’s equally revolutionary music shocked the audience at its Paris premiere and caused a riot that nearly stopped the performance.


The ensuing scandal resulted (as such scandals usually do at first) in soaring ticket sales which delighted canny Sergei Diaghilev genius director of the Ballets Russes and mentor to both the composer and choreographer. But theater managers did not want riots and the ballet’s performance life was brief.


Despite the absence of definitive knowledge of all the original choreography, the Joffrey Ballet’s version, because it was so thoroughly and rigorously researched, is now considered to be the most accurate reconstruction possible. Its local presentation is made possible by a grant from the E. L. Wiegand Foundation.