Archive for October, 2010

@ 953 E. Sahara Ave.

In the spooky spirit of the month, the Onyx Theatre put on their annual Halloween burlesque show at 8 p.m. on Oct. 27. The place was decked out in spiderwebs and fog and there really is nothing like a drag queen in costume.

It was a “living, breathing, tasty variety show,” in the words of emcee Ginger Grant. The show was well-paced and Grant’s bawdy humor kept the atmosphere lively and laid-back. It was obvious that the Onyx is no stranger to shows of this type.

Content-wise, there could have been more deliberately Halloween-y acts, although a few stood out for being so. Zombie-style Leda Las Vegas, singing “I Screamed a Scream,” kept interrupting herself with lunges toward the oh-so-delectable brains of the audience. Miss Miranda Glamour picnicked graveside with a charming undead fellow and a bottle of A-1 sauce. Lou-Lou Roxy made an appearance as a hypnotist and Genevieve Serpentine ended up covered in snakes.

Elaine, dressed as Lady Gaga, brought a “Bad Romance” to the table and performed respectably well. The recurring character known as Mama, played by Stephanie Castellone, was an audience-favorite and her banter with Grant was an act in itself.

More classic burlesque was well-represented in Renea le Roux’s flouncy French number and Miss Karla Joy’s stately performance to the “Addams Family” theme. Joy’s phenomenal lip-syncing act to a 1950s infomercial-style product pitch also dropped jaws.

All tips for the show went to the Sin Sity Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting those with HIV and AIDS. Follow the link above for more information on the group.

Photos are supposedly worth a thousand words, and that should be especially true on Halloween. Watch out for tricks this weekend, remember “stranger danger” and take a gander at the photos below. View a schedule for upcoming shows at the Onyx and find ticket information here.


Janell Burgess, a Vegas-based dancer with numerous credits in shows throughout the city, recently returned from Nigeria after judging the family-centered dance show called the “Maltina Dance All.”

MDA, which just completed its fourth season, is an initiative of the country’s popular malt drink called Maltina. The reality-TV-style show uses elimination rounds to select three families, which compete in a live, one-hour show for the title of Nigeria’s Number One Dance Family.

Interested in reading more? Click over to a couple of Burgess’ blog posts here and here for summaries of the event. If you’d like to see her entire blog, the homepage is here. (The photos alone are certainly worth a look.)

Burgess is currently traveling in Aguas Calientes, Mexico with the illusionists known as the Fercos Brothers. Updates are periodically posted to her Tumblr blog.

John Katsilometes over at the Las Vegas Sun made an interesting observation about the “Donny and Marie” billboard (on Swenson Street, south of Tropicana Avenue). Chip Lightman, the producer of the Osmond show, is conspicuously missing from the list of credits.  Trot over to the story here and pay special attention to that photo.

Lightman has recently launched a lawsuit against the Osmonds for breach of contract, seeking what he calls an “amicable” conclusion. View the Sun’s full story here.

It was close to midnight, and something evil was lurking in the dark.

It was a mass of college students.

Just kidding.

College students and zombies alike congregated in a ballroom at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Student Union to learn vintage “Thriller” choreography made famous by the King of Pop.

(Find a link to my podcast, hosted by Podbean, here, for an interview with the two dancers that taught the choreography.)

CSUN, the Consolidated Students of the University of Nevada (Las Vegas), is the student government at UNLV. The group organized the event on Oct. 21 for students to learn the original MJ choreography just in time for Halloween.

By all accounts, the event went quite well. Hundreds of people participated, many of whom were in zombie garb for the costume contest that was the culmination of the evening.

Erika Bruno and Alex Lum

Dancers Erika Bruno and Alex Lum occupied a stage at the front of the room, acting as in-person choreographers. Two big-screen projectors were set up alongside them, displaying Jackson’s original video courtesy of our good friends on YouTube. (The link is for the full video, story included. Skip to 8:28 for choreography.)

CSUN’s Director of Entertainment and Programming Chelsea Seegers demonstrated as well as organized, dancing along on stage and running around in equal parts.

Pint-sized b-boys from Rock Steady Crew were also in attendance, meaning that professors weren’t the only ones schooling college kids. (Check out footage toward the end of my video above.)

CSUN promises this will be a UNLV tradition. Hopefully they’re right — it’s certainly worth continuing.

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What do these four companies have in common? They performed together in “An Unprecedented Event,” a collaborative concert tribute to the late, great Robert Joffrey.

The show was hosted by Nevada Ballet Theatre at UNLV’s Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall on Oct. 15 – 17.

It was wonderfully unpredictable and unspeakable gorgeous.

Interested in reading more? Check out my mild-mannered alter ego on the website for The Rebel Yell, the official student newspaper for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Comments? Questions? Leave ’em here.

In a flurry of flexed feet and out-of-the-box-ness, the Las Vegas Academy produced their annual fall dance concert on Oct. 15 and 16 at the LVA Performing Arts Center on East Clark Ave.

If they had been graded on improvement from their show earlier this year, they would be graduating with honors at the end of the year.

Most of them, anyway. A few hitches still existed and many of these few were due to choreographic choices. The structure of the pieces  was consistently better overall, but a number of cliches ran rampant.

Square, obvious  turns in second smack-dab in the middle of a piece are bad enough on competition stages. Do you really have to have 30 dancers stop dead in a concert and whip out fouettes en masse?

Some choreographers at LVA would tell you, with no small measure of certainty, that yes, you do.

Retro choreo aside, many pieces stood out as forward-thinking, either in subtle ways or big ones.


"Citrus Glow"


“Citrus Glow,” the opening number choreographed by Kristine Keppel, was an endearing experience reminiscent, somehow, of Jason Reitman’s 2007 film “Juno.” Carefree energy coupled with the natural buoyancy of high school made this piece heart-warmingly age-appropriate. The movement was a smooth mix of the sincerity and silliness, with cart-wheels, pantomimes of jump-rope and stints of ring-around-the-rosie. Personality was everywhere.

“Be Present,” also by Keppel, demonstrated the depth of what can be accomplished with a larger corps. Although bigger numbers of performers can sometimes be inhibiting to the clarity of a piece, Keppel’s cohesive themes  provided structure. The men at the school were also showcased well.

A few Easter eggs of novelty pieces interspersed the show and were few enough to be enjoyed. “Don’t Eat What They Are Feeding You,” by Jeneane Huggins, and “Are You Out or Are You In?” by Karen Turnabull were good examples.


"Don't Eat What They Are Feeding You"


“Don’t Eat What They Are Feeding You,” in the first act, pivoted on each performer’s set of spoons. Small, soup-size ones in the beginning were soon outclassed entirely by spoons that were 2/3 the height of the dancers. The props were used creatively (with lots of digging and stirring involved) and the piece was surprisingly serious.

Turnbull’s “Are You Out or Are You In” began with strips of black-lights laid on the apron of the stage. This was coupled with the white-striped sleeves and socks of the costumes, which produced a cool glowing effect that limited choreography only occasionally.

Later in the piece, each of the performers in the piece had a medium-sized cardboard box surrounding his or her middle. These boxes came on and off throughout, ending with one lone soul high-stepping around all the boxed bipeds around her.


"What Is Life Worth Living For?"


Maturity is a precious thing in young adults and this quality shone through in two pieces in particular. “Touched,” by Kristine Keppel, and “What is Life Worth Living For?” by Jeneane Huggins and the E2 company, were both at the end of the show, illustrating what youthful energy can build up to.

Partnering was present in each both pieces, and this served two purposes: it singled out individuals from a sometimes overwhelmingly large corps and it gave the audience a chance to watch the performers connect one-on-one. The intimacy between the couples was touching and sincere and the maturity was undeniable.

Other pieces were enjoyable for different reasons.

“Thanks for the Memories,” choreographed by Lisa Lazenby, had a club beat,  in-your-face energy and sassy guitar, which was a good fit for the teenagers. “The Disappeared,” by Karen Tunbull, was a sexy, playful number to a song not unlike something heard from the Beach Boys. Chiptune transitions and quirky head-bobs lent some funk.

Thomas DiSabato’s “Lifeforce” had a fizzy effervescence to it and was highly visual. The choreographer has branched out from his usual as well, exploring a more soft-core contemporary that suited the ethereal nature of the piece.

A few of the more irritating moments came in “Walk Away,” also by DiSabato, and Lisa Lazenby’s “The Ageless Dream.” Straight technique certainly has its place, but come on now. These kids can do much more than square chasses.

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For anyone familiar with the “Donny & Marie Show,” “playing dirty” might seem out of character for this infamously wholesome brother-sister duo.

However, Chip Lightman, the producer of the “Donny & Marie Show” at the Flamingo, recently filed a lawsuit and called out Donny Osmond in particular for being “underhanded, devious, fraudulent and greedy.”


It’s an interesting issue, to be sure, especially when the Osmonds recently extended their contract with the Flamingo into 2012. (Lightman is suing on the basis that the Osmonds are deliberately excluding him from future profits.)

Read the full story on Fox News’ page here, and follow this link for a podcast from 88.9 KNPR. And, as always, check back at the Dance Insider for updates as they arise.