Tag Archive: viva elvis


Hey, Cirque fans! If you’re interested in knowing more about the iconic entertainment company, check out Cirque Week, a series of behind-the-scenes demos and discussions of all things Cirque du Soleil. (Ticket information and a schedule is available here.)

Company executives chatted about what it takes to keep a company like Cirque going. Participants checked out costumes up close, watched rehearsals of bungee routines from “Mystere” and saw exclusive footage of the Cirque mother-ship in Montreal. These are a few examples of the breadth of programming Cirque has put on to let superfans get to know the company better.

The 10-day series is almost over, but stop by Best of Las Vegas to see my coverage of a few of the events. There’s nothing wrong with living vicariously, right?

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A big, glowing silhouette of Elvis Presley gives audience members a taste of the show before they enter the theater.

Elvis Presley is being commemorated 10 shows a week in the most recent resident Cirque show in Las Vegas. “Viva ELVIS” is a glittering, multimedia-encrusted production incorporating dancers, vocalists and acrobats in a tribute to the life and music of the hip-swinging king of rock ‘n’ roll.

Similar to Cirque’s “The Beatles LOVE” at The Mirage, “Viva ELVIS” is one of the more dance-y shows on the Strip. Coupled with some impressive and innovative acrobatic swag, the show makes a strong visual impression (although Cirque’s “where do I look??” phenomenon isn’t entirely sidestepped.) The dancing itself includes a good measure of character, which put the dancers into the inner circle of the story instead of relegating them to the chilly regions of eye-candy.

“Viva ELVIS” began with a quick one-two punch from dancers and acrobats in “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Don’t Be Cruel,” which comprised an energetic opener that gave the audience a friendly shake before the real story kicked in. Although the massive shoe, appropriately blue and suede, seemed a bit kitschy, the acro feats centered on it were attention-grabbing and the synchronization from the dancers was commendable.

“One Night with You,” an aerial pas de deux performed on a suspended metal-framed guitar against a background of stars, was a beautiful and sincere change of pace.

This was one of the outstanding strengths of the show itself: myriad emotions were fitted alongside one another, creating a comprehensive mosaic of Presley’s life. “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” another aerial duet, followed in a similar vein.

The enormous shoe at the top of “Viva ELVIS” wasn’t the only novelty. “Got a Lot of Livin’ To Do” employed seven trampolines in a delightful, superhero-themed number that underscored the importance of dreams. “Saved” was an exuberant piece that made good use of umbrellas and “Bossa Nova Baby” ushered in chill-inducing hand-balancing.

Cirque made it clear that multimedia is a huge priority; film clips interspersed the show and were integrated quite well. The transitions between numbers were fantastic and the pacing of the show was seamless.

“Love Me Tender” was a feather-soft rendition that showcased lovely vocals and “Can’t Help Falling In Love” featured sugar-coated pointework and partnering. Some truly exceptional band members made their presence known in “Burning Love” and cathartic contemporary choreography was well-represented in “Suspicious Minds.” “It’s Now or Never” was a tip-of-the-hat to the sexy side of Presley’s music, with some novelty spots and a smoldering pole trio.

A couple numbers stood out as high points in “Viva ELVIS.” “Jailhouse Rock” was an absolute hit with a captivating set, strong dancing, amazing acrobatics and excellent production elements. “Return to Sender” was equal parts precision and character work and high-flying acrobats were the cherries on top.

A cerceaux duet in a pair of giant wedding rings to “Love Me/Don’t” was a sweet and simple break for overstimulated eyeballs. “King Creole” and “Viva Las Vegas” were both big and raucous and a smart Western number even employed a flaming lasso.

Overall, “Viva ELVIS” was a nice balance of tried-and-true Cirque fare and creative contrivances. The strong dance element gets two vertical thumbs and several factors, like having a character narrating the show as Presley’s manager, made this a more coherent story than other Cirque endeavors. The tracks themselves are tastefully remixed and reproduced and the musicians are top-notch. Crowned by the shiny production elements and sheer out-of-the-box-ness, “Viva ELVIS” is a solid addition to fabulous Las Vegas.

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.

Nevada Ballet Theatre will be adding to its spring season with two different shows, one on the company’s own Summerlin turf and one at the “Viva ELVIS” theater alongside Cirque du Soleil.

“Beyond Words and Text: The Studio Series” is an in-house event that will run for two weeks beginning April 7 and ending April 17. The dancers’ rehearsal studio at the NBT school will be transformed into a black box theater, thus affording patrons an unusual opportunity to see these dancers in a more personal setting. And Princess Aurora from “Sleeping Beauty” won’t be alone in the ballet world for long: The show will feature works inspired by fairytales and fables like “The Jungle Book,” “Three Little Pigs and the Wolf” and “The Velveteen Rabbit,” each selected and interpreted by the choreographer in an effort to correlate music, movement and text.

Choreographers Ashleigh Doede, Jeremy Bannon-Neches, Anthony Paparelli, Barrington Lohr, Kalin Morrow, Alissa Dale, Grigori Arakelyan, Sarah Fuhrman and Krista Baker will be presenting their pieces at the times listed at the link below. All performances will take place at the company’s Summerlin facility at 1651 Inner Circle, Las Vegas 89134. Tickets can be purchased for $25 to $45 (excluding convenience fees) by calling (866) 937-9610 or by logging onto nevadaballet.org.

Cirque du Soleil will be joining NBT on May 15 and 22 at 1 p.m for the fourth annual “Choreographers’ Showcase: A Project Designed to Stimulate and Encourage Artistic Growth.” The 90-minute show will be performed at Cirque’s “Viva ELVIS” theater at CityCenter’s ARIA resort and will feature five works each by NBT and Cirque. An additional matinee performance is available exclusively for Clark County students and is made possible by ticket sales for the May 15 and 22 productions. An estimated 3,000 students have been included in this program in previous years.

Tickets for “A Choreographers’ Showcase” are on sale now and can be purchased for $20 to $40 by calling (702) 531-3800 or by logging onto nevadaballet.org. Purchasing a $40 ticket will guarantee a preferred seat and will afford one student the chance to attend the May 20 performance. All proceeds benefit NBT and are tax-deductable donations.

If you didn’t tune into the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, fear not. The footage of “Viva ELVIS” performing “Blue Suede Shoes” is available here for your viewing convenience.

Hit up the “Viva ELVIS” page on Facebook to leave comments for them. Use your nifty scroll bar to leave comments for me.

And as the King said so timelessly . . .

Thank you very much.

Oh, the wonders of Twitter.

Cirque, utilizing the reply options on the popular micro-blogging site, sponsored a Twitter chat with “Viva Elvis” artist Will Roberts.

Followers tweeted back and forth with each other and Roberts, who answered questions and provided pictures and inside info.

For those of you fluent in Tweet, take a look at Cirque’s Twitter page to follow the conversation. (Non-Tweet-speaker are also welcome, although the lingo might take some getting used to.)

Keep an eye on that Twitter feed, Cirque enthusiasts. Rumor has it they’re planning more Tweet chats soon.

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