Tag Archive: rommel pacson


Two companies rife with young talent competently mixed contemporary and classical dance with exuberant energy in a joint performance on May 15 at the “Viva ELVIS” theater at Aria. “A Choreographers’ Showcase,” now in its fourth year, showcased the ambitions and abilities of artists from Cirque du Soleil and Nevada Ballet Theatre in a performance that filled the house — and the enormous stage — respectably.

Each piece was choreographed by a dancer from one of the companies (with the exception of “Pra,” pronounced “prey,” by Rommel Pacson, a dancer who does physical therapy work for Cirque). Each choreographer stepped forward to introduce his or her work and the insight from the artists aided the comprehension of some experimental concepts.

The diversity of the show was encouraging. “Pra,” mentioned above, was a flexed-foot, modern-influenced and highly athletic depiction of pursuit. “Glo,” by Cirque artist Vanessa Convery, incorporated film to fully express the emotional breadth of the message of the piece, which was spoked with eye-catching partnering and incandescent interactions.

Story-telling was, pleasantly, in no short supply. “Vindicate,” a piece by NBT artist Krista Baker, told the story of the complicated aspects of life in a dance studio. The ensemble-work and technical aspects in the piece were wonderful and the honesty in the narrative offered a fresh take on a familiar atmosphere.

Cirque artist Greg Sample’s “Pressing Play” also revolved around a relatable central concept: hitting pause on adult responsibilities and pressing play on the spontaneous discoveries of childhood. The number featured distinct character movement that was performed well to quirky music. This combination fit the mission statement of the work and elicited giggles and warm-fuzzies from the audience.

Abstract concepts were bravely explored in pieces like “The Vertical Hold” by NBT’s Ashleigh Doede and “Dreams of Hope” by Hanifa Jackson and Israel Gutierrez of Cirque. Emotions ran high in both and the fortitude of the performers was commendable. “The Vertical Hold” was a tense, brooding embodiment of conflict and stalemates. Domineering and driving energy piloted “Dreams of Hope,” a strong jazz number with crazy partnering and the only choreographic collaboration in the show.

Perhaps the most literal interpretation of an idea came from Cirque’s Mukhtar Omar Sharif Mukhtar with “Making Sense of Movement.” The choreographer introduced his piece with anecdotes about dancing alongside performers that were blind or deaf but could still interpret music. The number was created with this in mind; each dancer bore a red mask, worn alternatively over eyes or mouth to simulate sightlessness and silence. Although the piece had a sinister ring to it at the start, the lingering message exonerated the limitless possibilities of having a fully functioning body.

“Cue: Bow,” a piece by Kalin Morrow of NBT, began the show with a plucky and inventive vibe that was refreshingly light-hearted. Childish narratives and characters shone through and spoke well to the audience. “Ascension,” by NBT’s Leigh Hartley, used ballet- and lyrical-tinged choreography to tell the story of a hospital patient that, by the end of the piece, traded the hospital gown for an angelic dress. The classical note kept things in perspective and the story was satisfyingly straightforward.

Mary LaCroix, an artist with NBT, choreographed “Apres Vous,” which landed late in the second act. The number had a thread of personal experience in it, as LaCroix admitted early on, and this contributed a nice veracity. The narrative traveled from a fractured relationship to a gritty and determined coda, concluding finally with a mildly indignant resolution.

Effervescent exploration and collaboration made the show not only remarkably diverse but highly enjoyable. Not everything was as polished as it might have been with full rehearsals, but that wasn’t the point. It was encouraging to see the power and ambition of these performers and, with any luck, this annual concert will continue for many years to come.

“A Choreographers’ Showcase” will be performed at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 22 at the “Viva ELVIS” theater at Aria. Tickets are available here, and proceeds contribute to an outreach program that has allowed more than 3600 students to attend a special performance of the show.

Dancers line the stage for the "tip parade" at the end of the show. Tips are donated to BC/EFA.

Entertainers from up and down the Strip performed in the Las Vegas sequel of the hit benefit concert “Broadway Bares” on April 24 at Planet Hollywood and shed their clothes for the cause. The show generated more than $20,000 and every dime went to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, an organization that supports those living with the virus.

The show was also a smokin’ testament to the depth of talent that lies in this city. The Vegas version of the New York concept was a strong contribution to the “Broadway Bares” original and proved that the arts scene here is nothing to sneeze at. Jerry Mitchell, creator of both “Broadway Bares” and “Peepshow,” took the stage at the end of the show and heartily agreed, conveying his excitement about the growth the show has seen since its humble beginnings.

Slick, sexy vocals and understated confidence provided an auspicious start for “2 Hot” with a number of the same name featuring artists from “Peepshow,” “Jersey Boys” and others. The tension was palpable and made for an exciting beginning to a highly dynamic show.

The diversity was also impressive. There was an excellent female cover of “Sex on Fire” by Kings of Leon with strong lyrical choreography to match. There was a guy in a banana suit (word up to 1230 Clownshow and their usual eyebrow-raising circumstances for that one). There was a classic number by Nicholas Foote to “Too Darn Hot” that had a sassy, finely honed Broadway edge to it. “Simply Barerisistible,” by Sheila Joy Burford, had girls bent, curled and spinning on barstools with commendable ease.

Edie of "Zumanity" makes her entrance in style and emceed the show alongside "Peepshow"'s Holly Madison and Josh Strickland.

And there was a drag queen descending from the sky to the Miss America theme song. Edie, a “Zumanity” performer who was the emcee for the evening, was a perfect palate-cleanser for the smattering of genres that made an appearance. Co-hosts Holly Madison and Josh Strickland of “Peepshow” made appearances as well and the three were as enjoyable as the acts they introduced.

Novelty was in no short supply; “Le Jazz Hot,” with choreography by Rommel Pacson, was headlined by a glammed-up Christopher Peterson of “Eyecons” and guys from “Naked Boys Singing” at the Onyx Theatre. It’s hard to go wrong with a New-Orleans-jazz vibe and bare-chested men in suspenders.

“13 Going on 30″ was a tongue-in-cheek parody of something akin to “Annie” and presented a cringe-worthy contrast of little-girl choreography (by Lena Groux and Jamee Hossack) and unarguably adult subject matter. “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” from Dustree Productions featured a full-size bed with suggestive scenarios and spicy partnering to match.

The Viper Vixens demonstrate their power in "Looks that Kill."

Weapons made a couple of debuts as well (and I commend both choreographers for not choosing Rihanna’s “S&M” track–too easy.) The Viper Vixens performed “Looks that Kill,” with choreography by Ottavio Gesmundo, holding objects that looked ominously like ice picks. The forthright sexuality in the number would have been dangerous enough: the Vixens weren’t playin’, and they made that clear.

J.J. Villar’s “Weird Science” was, well, weird, but intriguingly so. The bizarre situations, involving the likes of bodies outlined in neon lights, duct-taped girls a la Lady Gaga and buckets and water guns created a raucous, jarring, postmodern experience. And the water guns were pretty cool.

Straight-up sexiness was well represented. “Where Have All the Nice Men Gone,” by Jonnis, erred in a captivatingly contemporary direction and the edgy “Nice N’ Slow” by Saleemah Knight featured stellar vocals by “Lion King”‘s Jelani Remy. “Hit Me with a Hot Note” by Tara Palsha and Ryan Kelsey and featuring performers from “Vegas! The Show,” was at once charming and sensual with corsets thrown in for fun.

“Bringing the Heat” shook up the Disney image and showcased the fiery choreography of Erin Barnett. The introduction of the number, performed by the cast of “Lion King Las Vegas,” brought an anticipatory roar from the audience. The sinewy movement was executed impeccably and the brevity of the number left the audience yearning for more.

This could be said for the show itself. As Edie put it, “I hate that I have to wait 364 days to be here, but I’m here!” “Broadway Bares” is rapidly becoming a Vegas tradition, and fortunately so: There are few shows that would fit in with Strip life as well as this one.

Jerry Mitchell congratulates the cast after speaking of the unassuming beginnings of "Broadway Bares."

“Broadway Bares” began in New York in 1992 and has raised $75 million since then. BC/EFA has raised $195 million to provide services for those living with HIV/AIDS.

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