Tag Archive: burlesque


Rounis sports her "Feed Your Creativity" t-shirt, which was included for anyone who donated $20 or more.

Melena Rounis, a Cirque dancer in “The Beatles LOVE,” put on the third annual Step Up and Dance fundraiser on Nov.19, which raised more than $700 in a few short hours to help feed hungry families in Nevada.

Rounis’ recipe for this event has proven true over the years. For participants, it’s simple. Pay a $10 minimum donation and take your fill of half-hour-long master classes in a variety of styles. This year, teachers included Rounis herself, fellow Cirque dancers Katy Tate, Sheila Joy and Fred Odgaard, Tyrell Rolle of “The Lion King” and master locker Scoo B Doo. Around 50 people showed up to dance and donate.

Participants could pick and choose from the smorgasbord of styles, which spanned the genres from old-school hip-hop and locking to burlesque, jazz and funk. Dancers of all ages and with varying experience levels got down for a good cause and Rounis said she was thrilled with the turnout this year.

“I think this year was great because it had a perfect dynamic and a great number of people,” Rounis said. “There was space for everyone to dance, so I think every year has been a success. I’m not humble at all,” she continued, laughing.

Katy Tate, dance captain at “LOVE,” taught what she called a “Lil Wayne” contemporary combination and concurred with Rounis about the importance of outreach. “How great is it to be able to do what you love and support those in need?,” she asked.

Tate said that thinking of others is important for more than just charity. “If you’re thinking about yourself the whole time, you only have a fraction of a class,” Tate said, encouraging dancers to watch and learn from each other in dance classes.

Katy Tate combined classical movement with contemporary style in her combination to Lil Wayne's "How to Love."

Tyrell Rolle of “The Lion King” voiced a similar message during his funk class. “You shouldn’t be a one-sided dancer,” he said emphatically. “Whatever it is, commit to it.”

And Rounis, despite dancing 10 shows a week for Cirque, is committed to Step Up and Dance. Another workshop is taking place on Dec. 18 at Drive Dance Center in Vancouver, a dance studio Rounis co-founded. “I think it’s going to be huge,” Rounis said. “I’m already out of posters and fliers and they’ve only been promoting for a week! But that’s a good thing.”

Despite challenges of working around professionals’ schedules and organizing events remotely, Rounis said she has high hopes for the fundraiser in the future. “Honestly, since I’ve started this event, it just keeps getting better each year,” she said.

Although it might seem like a long time before the next Step Up and Dance event, check out the photos below in the meantime.

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Autumn can be a difficult thing to spot in Las Vegas. It tends to be stealthy, tiptoeing in with crisp breezes and a midday temperature that doesn’t make human skin boil. It’s a slow-mover, with those lovely fall colors not gracing the limbs of trees here until most places are getting their winter vibes on.

Academic schedules remain unaffected by our late-arriving season. Kindergardeners, graduate students and all learners in between donned backpacks this past week and headed back to school, stoically sweltering in the name of scholastic success.

Like a school holiday or Christmas break, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Vegas dance groups large and small are pulling together for some fall performances that might just be the happy hour that your long week needs. A few of them are listed below. If you know of something that isn’t mentioned here, shoot me an email or leave a comment below. Cheers!

“The Spade of Hearts Presents: The Variety Show”: Saturday, Sept. 3, 9:30 – 11:30 p.m. at Boomers Bar. Burlesque and comedy will be well-represented, with performances by Dave Johnson, Roxy Rock-It, JP Nomi Malone and more! Arrive early for free jello shots (9 – 10 p.m. or while supplies last) and enjoy drink specials throughout the night. Tickets are $15 for one or $20 for two at the door.

“Grindhouse Burlesque Presents: The Daily Grind!”: Sunday, Sept. 4, 9 p.m. – midnight at The Bikini Bar. Caramel D’lite will be emceeing the show, which will feature numbers by Roxy Rock-It, Rosalita Nikita, Porcelain Vanity and Lacey Moon. There’s no cover for the performance, but you have to be 21 or older (sorry, youngins). Check out the Grindhouse Burlesque website here for more.

“Waiting for Godot”: Thursday, Sept. 8 – Oct. 1, 8 p.m., at The Insurgo Theater at the Plaza Hotel and Casino. This round of performances kicks off the first casino-based resident space for a theater troupe in Las Vegas, so you can enjoy that fact alongside the spectacular work of Insurgo Theater and Samuel Beckett. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at the box office until 15 minutes before the show. Call (702) 883-5500 to reserve them over the phone.

“Nuthouse by Michael O’Neal”: Fridays, Sept. 9 and 23, and Saturdays, Sept. 10 – 24, midnight, the Onyx Theatre. Lose your mind alongside the cast with this nutty, thoroughly inappropriate show that will take you on a tour of the mind of your average psychopath. Tickets are $10 and cocktails are available free of charge, although donations are accepted. The house opens at 11:30 p.m.

“1230 Clown Show: Rat Pack”: Thursday and Friday, Sept. 15 and 16, at, that’s right, half-past midnight. This jam-packed variety show is worth turning out for; there will likely be members of the audience who go to both performances, so don’t be shy about coming back. Find a previous review of the show here and be sure to get there early: seats fill fast. Tickets are $15 and doors open at 11:45 p.m.

Hey folks! Think of this post as a reader’s digest of the dance world. I’ve aggregated a few stories that were fun or interesting, so peruse at your leisure and see what others in Danceland are up to.

Warm fuzzies from American Ballet Theater: a slew of proposals at ABT might be giving those fairytale romances some credence. Find the story on Artsbeat here.

Cirque is heading to the Big Apple: An analytical look at Cirque du Soleil’s past and future is available from Jason Zinoman. Find the story here, with continuations coming next week.

A fantastic story about where burlesque came from and where it’s going was recently published by the good folks at the Las Vegas Weekly. Follow the link here and be sure to check out the photos.

Remember site-specific choreography from the 1980s? It’s back! A story published in the Wall Street Journal detailed a piece performed by Shen Wei Dance Arts performers at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Find the story, accompanied by photos and video, here.

Hanging from the ceiling isn’t just for Cirque artists … another Wall Street Journal story covers LAVA, a dance and acrobatic troupe in Brooklyn. Check out the full text here.

Pardon the third WSJ story, but this one is bringing it full circle with a clip about the “battling burlesque shows” in Las Vegas. Get the scoop here, and thanks for stopping by!

A bevy of award-winning burlesque babes, many of whom have performed internationally, hit the stage at Boomers Bar on April 30 for Cha Cha Velour’s monthly show. The evening was conducted by the magician called Bizarro, a charmingly self-deprecating low-baller with  flair for making the un-funny quite comedic.

Cha Cha Velour, Mini Tonka, Anita Cookie, Clams Casino and Penny Starr Jr. convened for an evening that showcased their collective talents famously. Penny Starr Jr. rocked a gorilla suit before stripping to a red and black corset affair, but the monkey motif returned at the end with the appearance of a banana, suggestively nibbled. A drink was the focus of one of Anita Cookie’s acts, which featured an inner “should I or shouldn’t I?” debate about whether to drink it or not (she did, eventually, and with gusto).

Clams Casino’s hilarious rendition of an overeager tennis player was commended by the audience and Mini Tonka’s mechanical parody of a robotic creature received similar approval. Cha Cha Velour strutted in style and exuded experience through two classic burlesque numbers that had the audience roaring by the end.

The theme for the performance seemed to be diversity and out-of-the-box-ness, as evidenced by nontraditional numbers executed with incredible confidence. The spread of awards from events like the Burlesque Hall of Fame pageant and the New York Burlesque Festival was impressive and, ostensibly, well-deserved. For this show, “entertaining” would have been a serious understatement.

Even Bizarro, self-defined “Anthrax of Magic,” represented a quirky riff on what Vegas locals have seen so often. His bits involved the likes of Smurfs in Hell, gently used sex dolls, tie-dye duct tape and balloon-swallowing (of the long, then variety, which was appropriately vulgar). Even a botched card trick, whether intentional or not, yielded a feigned “so sue me” belligerence from Bizarro and appreciate laughs from the audience. His standard “shut up” quip brought a contagious immaturity to the show that made it that much more enjoyable.

Novelty and props weren’t the only engines behind the acts, however. Anita Cookie performed in little more than an overcoat, which she playfully rearranged with a teasing smile. Mini Tonka ended one of her sketches with two miniature records adhered in strategic places and Penny Starr Jr. performed a tribute to her grandmother (yes, really) that featured coy kisses and crotchetiness. Clams Casino, clad in bright pink and yellow, pointed and shook her proverbial tail-feathers exuberantly.

The $10-$12 ticket price automatically filed this show under “incredible steal” and proved what many burlesque dancers in Las Vegas have been pronouncing for awhile. Burlesque is not a has-been, and it isn’t just girls dancing in their underwear. If anything will reform this image, it will be performances like this.

Performers gathered in the name of creativity, business sense and giveaways for a late-night show organized by Creative Studios LV and Financial Groove on Feb. 23. “Financial Groove Presents” was held at the Loft Works space rented by Creative Studios and was a comfortable mix of live music, spoken word, indie short films and dance.

Creative Studios supports performing artists by providing rehearsal, administrative, marketing and fundraising resources, all in the name of creation and innovation. Financial Groove, a QuickBooks-approved organization, supplies artists with tax expertise to ensure that art and business operate as harmoniously as possible.

Both entities know how to put on a widely enjoyable show. Additionally, raffle prizes and donations were contributed by such organizations as PhotoFM.com , The Muffler Shop, Creative Studios LV, Pahrump Valley Winery, CMIT Solutions of The LakesPhotoGraphic Creations and Flowers of the Field. A grand prize for the evening was an Amazon Kindle e-reader and, of course, free food abounded.

Performers hailing from “Fantasy” Cirque du Soleil, “Le Reve” and the like joined freelancing musicians and dancers in a concert whose proceeds benefited Creative Studios. Dance wasn’t the mainstay of the evening, but two aerial acts, several vocal solos, a couple of monologues and live music filled the space with creative vibes.

Drea Lee, pictured left, choreographed a high-energy, funk-and-burlesque fusion number to Christinia Aguilera’s “Spotlight,” which was performed midway through the show. Clever choreography and personality-filled dancers in fringe made the piece an easy crowd-pleaser and some intricate funk kept things interesting. Footage of the number is available here.

Tenile Pritchard and an artists known as Swift performed a duet toward the end of the show and set the scene with candles, a pillow and conversational choreography. Drake’s “Little Bit” serenaded the couple through a twining piece about the complexity of relationships and vulnerability. Tight isolations made it evident that the choreography was backed up by two strong technicians and the energy helped the show end strongly.

Two short films by Lauren Thompson, titled “Restroom” and “Mail Room,” provided ample head-scratching material and Adam Kilbourn screened a humorous short about a very un-funny economic situation. All of this material, paired with an open and relaxed atmosphere, made “Financial Groove Presents” edgy and appealing. Ideally, there will be more events like this on the way.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Creative Studios or Financial Groove, keep your eyes peeled because more material should be coming soon. In the meantime, enjoy the photos below and check out both Creative Studios LV and Financial Groove on Facebook.

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For anyone else out there who emboites in the other direction at the first sign of sports equipment projectiles, don’t worry: March still brings plenty to celebrate, er, madly. The Academy Awards, which took place over the weekend, celebrated the nomination of “Black Swan” for several categories, including best picture. Natalie Portman, psychotic ballerina extraordinaire, snagged the statuette for best actress through her role in the film and, thankfully, showed no signs of sprouting wings.

On an entirely unrelated but similarly excellent note, a new kind of game is coming to Las Vegas, and it’s beginning with a bang tonight. Nomi Malone and Miss Miranda Glamour will be hosting “Burlesque: the Game Show” at FREEZONE, a couple blocks south of Hard Rock Hotel. Renea’ Le Roux and Lou-Lou Roxy will be making guest appearances and ladies can get discounts on drinks from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. For a night of burlesque and unpredictability, hit up FREEZONE at 610 E. Naples Drive at 10:30 p.m.

For the more classic at heart, Nevada Ballet Theatre will be performing “The Tried and True and the New” at 8 p.m. on March 4, 5 and 6 at UNLV’s Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall. Guest artists from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will make an appearance and choreography by George Balanchine, James Canfield and Matthew Neenan will be featured. Tickets are selling quickly, so head over here to buy yours.

For those of you that can’t bear the thought of an entirely sports-bereft March, Face Productions is organizing a show on Fremont Street that should be a good compromise. The month-long production features sassy performers with pom-pom expertise and vixens dancing to Beyonce tracks, both appropriate for the ultimate halftime show experience.

Do you know of any mad events going on that should be featured here? Leave a comment below and let me know. Otherwise, get some pep in your step and gear up for a month full of burlesque, ballet and, if you insist, basketball.

Flame-spinners, magicians, contortionists and babes with big voices got together for January’s “Karnival,” held at the Onyx Theatre on Jan. 4. As the first show of the new year, the performance represented an auspicious start. As an installment in the ongoing “Karnival” series, it constituted a step in a dynamic and highly enjoyable direction.

One of the strongest attributes of the show was its ability to showcase new talent while still keeping audience favorites alive and well. The recurring “Mama” character was present in voice if not in person; a voice-over was broadcast because, as the story goes, Mama was in Costa Rica during the show. (Stephanie Castellone, Mama’s alter-ego, was in the show this time around and no walker was necessary.)

Instead, Mama’s sister Girdy (played by J P Nomi Malone and pictured below) fulfilled the role of hilariously outrageous accoutrement. Coupled with emcee Vivianne Dumonde, the drag queen filling in for Ginger Grant, the show was well-spiked with comedy of the same brand but of a different flavor.

The talent continued along this vein as well, with a mix of classic acts and newcomers. Spade of Hearts started the show in proper Broadway fashion with a cheeky character, a masked rabbit in a tux, sly magic tricks and a fabulously belted version of Jefferson Airplane’s  “White Rabbit.”

Leda Las Vegas and Lou Lou Roxy took the audience from Wonderland to a cabaret … or, rather, “Cabaret.” Leda, mic in hand, sat coyly at a table downstage while Roxy, clad in black fringe and dark lipstick, preened and shimmied her way through the act. The number was both understated and outgoing, with Leda’s expressive voice defying the role of simple accompaniment.

Two other voices stood out in the show as well, proving that while “Karnival” might be playful at times, the performers themselves aren’t playin’. Isabella Ivy and Ianroel Gargantiel (pictured left) sang the title track from “Phantom of the Opera,” complete with an opera gown on Ivy (but, strangely, no mask on Gargantiel.) Ivy’s soaring soprano and the seriousness of Gargantiel’s character were transforming forces for the small theater and added a note (or several) of seriousness to the show.

Bellydancer Resa Alhena, accompanied by John Dark on accordion, and Miranda Glamour held down the dance fort with two different but catchy acts. Alhena and Dark (both pictured below) performed a sweet and sultry duet at the top of the show, rife with details from fingers and belly alike. Perhaps the most enjoyable facet of the number was the conversational nature between the two and Alhena’s serenity and quiet smile were infectious. Glamour took another route altogether, stepping into “Toucha Toucha Touch Me” track from “Rocky Horror Picture Show” with all the personality and bubblegum sass that the song requires.

A magician, a fire-spinner and a Cirque contortion act ushered in the quintessential side of the circus a la Las Vegas.

Kyle Marlett (pictured left), a self-proclaimed nerd magician that has yet to turn 21, razzle-dazzled the audience with unique illusions to a track from “Chicago.” Ripped paper that became whole, a never-ending sugar packet, and a one-sided conversation with the audience transcribed into a composition book set up Marlett’s grand finale: a demonstration that he really does have the best mouth in Vegas (their words, not mine.) Into that mouth went dental floss, followed by a number of small objects. By the end of the act, Marlett was pulling the floss back out of his mouth with each of the objects tied, in cherry-stem-style, to the string.

Oh, my. Marlett’s illusions were excellent and his Michael Cera-esque demeanor was both endearing and impressive.

Contortion and fire ended the show in style. Cirque contortionists (of whom Castellone was one, explaining the absence of Mama) twined over, under and around each other in a number originally performed in the touring Cirque show called “Nouvelle Experience.” The ease with which the performers maneuvered was astounding and the smiles that interspersed the act were the cherry on top.

Who loves a flaming stage? Maybe not the stage manager, but Chris Staefe (pictured above) has it under control — it was only on fire fora few seconds, after all, and it really was intentional. Staefe’s choice of music, a dramatic instrumental track from “The Lion King,” paired with the act well and accentuated the “wow” factor of watching balls of fire on a string spinning around.

And all too soon, the performers were stepping forward for their final bow. I don’t know if a New Year’s resolution at the Onyx was to ramp up the entertainment value of their shows, but if it was, mission accomplished. Hopefully the extreme talent and variety continues.

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