Tag Archive: antoine banks-sullivan


Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater opened its arms to the community for its fifth season and debuted new company members during two free concerts on Feb. 10 and 11. “An Evening of Dance” and “An Afternoon of Dance,” performed at the West Las Vegas Library Theatre on Lake Mead Boulevard, were also appropriately timed for African American History Month, a fitting gesture from the diverse company.

The show itself encompassed a breadth of genres and ended on an audience favorite, a dynamic piece by artistic director Bernard Gaddis called “Ebony Suites.” Think of Twyla Tharp’s contemporary ballets, rife with strong characters and intertwining story lines — and fabulous dancing, of course.

Christina Taylor, a new member of LVCDT, began the piece with a soulful and dignified solo to “Grandma’s Hands,” a rich and heartfelt track. Eddie Otero continued the tale with “Ain’t no Sunshine,” something of a signature piece for him, which was evident in the enthusiastic response from the audience.

Marie-Joe Tabet and Christopher McKenzie, spicy and silky-smooth in equal measure, brought a lovely fire to the number. The two toyed with each other, sidling up and sauntering away in an elaborate and engaging emotional display. McKenzie, another new LVCDT dancer, performed Gaddis’ former role well, capitalizing on the Ailey-esque choreography with his viscous smoothness.

In an antithesis to the dramatic duet, Antoine Banks-Sullivan and Erin Christiansen-Moya swooped in with a candy-sweet pas de deux to the timeless “At Last.” The light-hearted chemistry and polished choreography suited the couple well. “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” a raucous and grooving good time performed by the whole “Ebony” gang, wrapped up the suite. (The cast changed slightly between the two shows, with Roman Pantoja, Nadjana Chandra and Lindsey Hashiguchi swinging in for Saturday’s program.)

“Dreamtime,” a cerebral piece by Elisa Monte, explored the aboriginal Australian idea that spirits vacate people’s bodies at night. The number used mirroring and counterpoint judiciously to create a nice sense of duality, and the fluid staging suited the dynamic movement. Tabet, emanating an air of regality, stood out as alacritous and commanding. Intriguingly lit from the side, “Dreamtime” was a contemporary step right up LVCDT’s alley.

“Bata” began the show with percussive style and a red-lit stage. West African undulations twined around Horton lines, underscoring the strong energy and swaying hips of the company. Some of the unison choreography was a little questionable, but the audience members made it clear that this didn’t bother them a whit.

Overall, the pacing of the show was decent, although two intermissions made the program a bit lengthy. Taylor, McKenzie and Caine Keenan, newcomers to the company, fit in well with the other dancers and brought unique artistic vibes of their own. Gaddis made an appearance in a button-down and slacks for this show and explained that he’ll be dancing less with the company, although his high-spirited introduction of his dancers made it clear that his commitment level to the company hasn’t shifted much.

LVCDT will be setting foot (or feet, as it were) onstage at the Smith Center in May.

Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater puckered up just in time for Valentine’s Day and sold out the West Las Vegas Library Theatre on Feb. 11. “Love with LVCDT” featured 22 works performed by the company and guest artists and was an ideal show for the heart-centric holiday.

A program with a running time of more than two hours might seem daunting, but the energy of the performers and the variety of the choreography ensured that the time went quickly. “Mood Indigo,” a softly shifting contemporary ballet, introduced the show splendidly and two pieces from “Opulence” concluded the second act. Both were expressive and dynamic numbers but for entirely separate reasons, effectively demonstrating the depth and breadth of the contemporary ballet genre.

From there, the program touched on Chicago-style jazz, country-themed character pieces and Ailey-esque duets. For audience accessibility, the cowboy-style “Give One Reason” and “Why Haven’t I Heard from You,” were as good as it gets. “Ain’t No Sunshine,” a solo featuring Eddie Otero, and “L.O.V.E.,” with Otero, Roman Pantoja, Antoine Banks-Sullivan and Emanuelle Mirbal-Torres, were both comfortably masculine. “Bang Bang,” with Marie-Joe Tabet, was angst-filled and lovely.

The partnering in the show was excellent. None of the numbers were overly long and the pacing of the concert was well-balanced, with a mix of easy crowd-pleasers and more abstract pieces.

An interesting detail in the concert was that every piece was choreographed by Bernard Gaddis, the founding artistic director of LVCDT. Gaddis gracefully acknowledged this with chagrin and a laugh. The sheer volume of work makes this feat impressive and, while the flavors were distinctly modern, jazz and contemporary ballet, the variety wasn’t lacking.

LVCDT classics hit the stage backed by evidence of considerable rehearsals. In addition to “Opulence,” repertory pieces like “Bata” and “Rhythm 101″ were hard-hitting numbers that contributed to the dynamism of the concert. “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” was lively and swinging and brought a New Orleans flourish that was a delight to watch.

“Sacrifus,” with music by Kevin Keller, transcended cute character roles and commanded attention from the beginning. Trembling strings, coupled with dramatic lighting changes, seemed to dictate the movement of the three dancers and the effect was at once stark and emotionally affecting. This could be a signature piece in the making, and rightfully so.

Agnes Roux, a founding member of the company that now dances with Cirque du Soleil’s “Zumanity,” was a guest artist in the show and her vibrant personality was impossible to overlook. “Don’t Explain” and “Come On Strong” suited the leggy dancer well, each with flying attitudes and nuanced transitions that made good use of the space.

Numbers like “Baby You Got What it Takes,” with Gaddis and Heather Farrell and “All of You,” performed by Ian Dodge and Lacy Simpson, were heart-warming and easy on the eyes. “Love in Stillness,” with Erin Christiansen and Mirbal-Torres, and Tabet in “Ms. Marie-Joe’s Blues” kept drama in good supply. “What a Little Moonlight Can Do,” featuring Danielle Howard, was a straightforward and jubilant piece with sweeping lines and plucky port de bras.

Ultimately, the annual concert again established itself  as a warm-fuzzy staple in the city’s spring lineup. Gaddis has found a good niche for his company and, with performances like this, exploits this effectively. The result is intriguing and very enjoyable. Advice for the next year’s show: come early. Seats fill fast.

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