Category: Cirque du Soleil


Two summer traditions will be gracing stages in Las Vegas in June: the Nevada Ballet Theatre-Cirque du Soleil collaborative concert “A Choreographers’ Showcase,” and “Ribbon of Life,” presented by Golden Rainbow and benefiting those living with HIV/AIDS.

“A Choreographers’ Showcase,” now in its fifth year, gives the artistic minds in NBT and Cirque a chance to choreograph on themselves and each other. The concert tends to be a lively mix of fresh ideas and excellent dancing. Catch the show at 1 p.m. on June  9 and 10 at the Viva Elvis theater at CityCenter. Tickets are $20 and $40 and can be purchased by calling 702-590-7760 or by clicking here.

“Ribbon of Life” is another long-standing tradition; this is the 26th anniversary of the show. Choreographers come from all over the city, lending the show a diverse and vibrant feel that has the added perk of raising thousands of dollars for Golden Rainbow, a nonprofit organization. “Ribbon of Life” will be performed at 1 p.m. on June 24 at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Smith Center box office at 702-749-2000.

Courtesy of CaesarsPalace.com

The rollicking, rambunctious show lives up to its spirited namesake: “Absinthe” is an intimate, Cirque-esque affair in a tent outside Caesars Palace that is likely to give pause to even the most seasoned spirit drinker. The production is equal parts lowbrow humor and high-flying acro, mixed well and poured over a sugar cube of incredible talent. The Gazillionaire and Penny Pibbets emcee the show and contribute a kick of bitterness with crass and spectacularly foul-mouthed dialogue that is unlike almost anything else in Las Vegas.

The beauty of “Absinthe” is that it isn’t just a show. Walking into the Spiegeltent is like being transported to a time when circuses weren’t polished, politically correct productions with sophisticated sensibilities. The inside of the smallish tent is just plastered with all manner of paraphernalia and packed with people. The stage itself is only 9 feet in diameter, which creates more of a side-show atmosphere than a million-dollar proscenium theater ever could.

And the performers themselves are dumbfounding. Four Russian guys throwing themselves and each other around? Check. A chick in roller skates spinning quite fast around a dude in roller skates spinning quite fast, perhaps by just an ankle or two hooked behind his neck? Check. An acrobat doing a headstand on top of a beer keg on top of a chair on top of a bar held by two guys on a tightrope? Check, check and check.

The Atlantis acrobatic group helps “Absinthe” stun audiences from the start.

A sultry Green Fairy makes an appearance, as does a spellbinding trapeze duo and a straps act that is truly amazing. The skill of the multifarious artists is continually juxtaposed by generous doses of raunchiness from Penny and the Gazillionaire, though, which keeps things from getting too familiar to Cirque du Soleil connoisseurs. By the time the first 15 minutes of the show have transpired, Gaz (as his friends call him) has picked on Republicans, Mexicans, Republicans, blacks, Republicans, women, Republicans, fanny packs, and Republicans. In a performing world that seems terrified of offending anyone at all, “Absinthe” is a refreshing (if shocking, at times) breath of air.

Like the heady green drink after which it is named, “Absinthe” might be hard to stomach at times, and it might leave you feeling a bit woozy after. If you’re looking for a different kind of show in this performance-saturated city of ours, though, it might be just what the doctor ordered.

Find more information about “Absinthe” and Spiegelworld here and here, respectively. The latter link also includes more about “Empire,” another Spiegelworld show debuting soon in New York. Paul Carr also saw and reviewed “Absinthe” for the Huffington Post, and his take is available here. And, finally, KNPR’s “State of Nevada” recently featured some of the big brains of Spiegelworld. Check out the story here for more about “Absinthe,” “Empire,” and what makes the (Spiegel)world go ’round.

“Absinthe” is performed at 8 p.m. in the Spiegeltent outside Caesars Palace Tuesday through Sunday, with multiple shows on some nights. Click here for more about tickets and showtimes.

Giulio Scatola, Cirque’s talent scout, will be at the Rock Center for Dance from 1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. today for an artistic master class designed to demonstrate what, exactly, Cirque is looking for at annual auditions. Don’t let that motivation fool you, though. The workshops tend to have an intimate, intensely creative feel and Scatola makes it difficult to remember that he was recently one of the intimidating faces sitting on the panel for the January and February auditions.

Come prepared for a good warm-up, contemporary and jazz choreography and some acting exercises thrown in for good measure. (More information is on the flier.) Mostly, though, come with your game face and an open mind and prepare to be inspired.

Photo by Julie Aucoin

The show that’s been in Las Vegas for nearly two decades just added two new high-flying aerial acts, one featuring flying trapeze artists and one with a fabulous aerialist on silks. If you haven’t seen the show, there is no better time. If you have, you should go again.

I was fortunate enough to get to see the revamped “Mystere” when it premiered on March 3, and it rocked my dance-bloggin’ world. The classics are still there: the semi-creepy, bottle-toting baby, the mischievous clowns, the squawking hand puppet and its pompous animator, the hand-to-hand balancers that will give you chills, and the big, mysterious inflatable snail. The show is classic Cirque at its finest, showcasing Chinese pole acts, Korean plank posses, incredible acro stunts and captivating characters.

Throw in 20 new cast members and a renovated set and it’s difficult to go wrong. I spoke with head coach Karl Abraham and artistic director David Gomez about what it’s like to have 1/3 of the cast learn the show from scratch in a few short weeks, as well as the logistics of replacing massive pieces of equipment and breathing life into a show that’s been performed more than 8,500 times.

Check out the full story on the Best of Las Vegas site here, and be sure to catch the live version if you can!

Cirque’s latest resident show, “Iris,” was temporarily booted out of its home at the Kodak Theatre for the Super Bowl of the cinema world: the 84th Annual Academy Awards. The evening-long lockout wasn’t total, though. More than 50 artists from several of Cirque’s productions flipped, twirled and tossed each other through the air in an artistic interpretation of what it’s like to go to the movies.

Did you miss it? Never fear! Take a gander at the video below, and hold on to your hats next time you hit the cinema just in case you’re suddenly airborne.

Performers showcased a fuller Fosse flavor in "Sing, Sing, Sing," which closed the concert.

A small, sultry cast slunk onstage to some spectacular renditions of Bob Fosse’s work in “Take Off with Us,” a benefit directed and choreographed by Cirque’s Giulio Scatola and presented by RagTag Entertainment. The Ovation theater at Green Valley Ranch played host and, while the production elements were understated by Las Vegas standards, the show didn’t need them. The performers delivered tasteful and tantalizing sensuality, coupled in most cases with grand stage presence. All of this made the $15 ticket price a stellar value.

Leads Traci Kesisian and Savannah Smith were knockouts; their full, emotional voices bore the show along effortlessly. Scatola’s choreography also did them justice, as they both neatly sidestepped the old paradigm of singers who don’t dance. Kesisian and Smith held their own with the ensemble of dancers backing them, propelled by compelling command of the stage.

The rundown of “Take Off with Us” was short, sweet and sassy. Dancers Claudia Cervenka, Erin Marie Sullivan, Kady Kay, Rochelle Wolfe, Caitlin Cray Shea and Tenile Pritchard demonstrated great versatility, switching between the lovely, lilting “Take Off with Us” opener and the coy, snappy “Bye Bye Blackbird.” “Blackbird” especially was svelte and feminine and played well to the audience.

“Big Spender,” another predictably dance-y number, featured the entire cast and resisted any precious ambiance, opting for gritty authenticity instead. Beautiful girls cat-calling to guys across a bar is a familiar scene in Las Vegas, but the girls’ playfulness garnished the number with laughs.

They gotcha! Traci Kesisian, flanked by Claudia Cervenka (left) and Erin Marie Sullivan, made it clear that these performers aren't playin'.

Smith’s and Kesisian’s vocal solos well placed in the program. Smith began the show with “Take Off with Us” and, later, “All that Jazz,” seamlessly switching keys and showing off her delightful belt. Kesisian’s voice hearkened back to the edginess of Gwen Verdon, a point she underscored beautifully in the up-tempo “I Gotcha” and “Mein Herr.”

The due shone in “Class,” “Nowadays” and “Life is a Bowl of Cherries.” Their professionalism was clear, and their enjoyment bled into the audience throughout the show. Arles Estes bears mentioning as well, as his arrangements of “Take Off with Us” and “Cherries” were just the right degree of smooth and snazzy. Kesisian and Smith’s dance break in “Nowadays” was also excellent, rife with jazz hands and Charlestons.

Individuals in the ensemble, equally hard to forget, made their voices heard in “Cell Block Tango,” perhaps the most personality-filled number in the show. Each performer delivered a snide monologue about doing away with lying, cheating men, and the audience was roaring by the end of the act.

“Sing, Sing, Sing,” the traditional Fosse closer if there ever was one, wrapped up the concert. The performers were decked in fringe and glitter and their swishing costumes added an audible element to the Fosse-filled finale. Jazz hands, pigeon toes and distinctive, attenuated lines gave a final tip of the fedora to the show’s inspiration.

One final performance of “Take Off with Us” is scheduled for 8 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch. (Doors open at 7 p.m.) Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door, but arrive early, as the house fills fast. Proceeds benefit Golden Rainbow, an organization assisting those living with HIV and AIDS.

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Giulio Scatola, Cirque’s talent scout and a fine artist in his own right, has directed and choreographed “Take Off with Us,” a tribute to Bob Fosse, at the Ovation at Green Valley Ranch. The  concert series was produced in conjunction with RagTag Entertainment and revenue will benefit Golden Rainbow, a nonprofit organization supporting those living with HIV and AIDS.

If that sounds like your cup of tea — or bowl of cherries — stop by the Ovation theater today, Feb. 21, or Feb. 28. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the shows start at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door; admission is $15. All ages must be accompanied by an adult 21 years of age or older. For more information, check out the Green Valley Ranch entertainment page.

Here’s a preview. Enjoy!

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