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Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall used to be a catch-all destination for out-of-town artists of all stripes. When the Smith Center opened, suddenly this spotlight zoomed from UNLV’s campus to the crown jewel of Symphony Park, and oft-lauded artists with hefty reputations seemed to follow.

Seems simple, right? Smith Center sells out and Ham Hall shuts down. But wait, because just like those infomercials … there’s more.

Steve Bornfeld wrote a refreshingly optimistic piece for Vegas Seven about the niche that Ham Hall is likely to occupy in the greater swath of performing arts in Las Vegas. It’s titled, appropriately, “The Adjustment Bureau,” and it is certainly worth a read for arts freaks of any degree.

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The head of BBC Worldwide Productions had two obsessions that she wanted to explore. One was ballet. The other was a convent. In a six-show reality series, Jane Tranter, the head of BBC Worldwide Productions, uses Ballet West to explore themes from both, including fierce competition, stealthy secrecy and an aura of the unattainable.

Enter “Breaking Pointe,” a short show that follows dancers from the Ballet West company based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Rebecca Milzoff of the New York Times wrote about the show, noting the very CW-ish production style of soap-opera vibes and an edgy score. The first few minutes of the initial episode do put juicy drama and relationships (and somewhat stilted dialogue) front and center, but the show certainly seems worth a look for bunheads.

And the good news is you can watch it for free online! Head over here for the goods. Happy streaming!

Julia Osborne wrote a great review of Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater’s star-studded fifth anniversary concert at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts on May 29. The show included works by such choreographers as Ulysses Dove, Lorenzo Rennie Harris and LVCDT artistic director Bernard Gaddis, among others. The article has some nice interpretations of the choreography and Osborne gave the show a sparkling review, noting that the concert was excellent despite a few technical malfunctions.

To read the full story, visit the Las Vegas Review-Journal website here.

Update 5/27/12: For some great insight on the artistic work behind Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater’s Smith Center debut, click here for a preview from the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

5/23/12: Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater will be stepping onstage at the Smith Center on May 29, backed by a program featuring work by Ulysses Dove, Milton Meyers, Rennie Harris and LVCDT artistic director Bernard Gaddis. The concert will mark the beginning of the company’s spring 2012 concert season and will celebrate its five-year tenure in Las Vegas.

If you’d like to see Dove’s legendary “Vespers,” “Variations” by Meyers, Harris’ “Lifted” or the Vegas classic “Opulence” by Gaddis (as well as a new work, “Metamorphosis II,” by the same), hit up the Smith Center at 7:30 p.m. on May 29. The star-studded program and appropriately elegant venue will likely underscore the artistic quality of the company nicely.

Tickets are $27-$65 and can be purchased by clicking here or by calling the Smith Center box office at 702-749-2000.

Two summer traditions will be gracing stages in Las Vegas in June: the Nevada Ballet Theatre-Cirque du Soleil collaborative concert “A Choreographers’ Showcase,” and “Ribbon of Life,” presented by Golden Rainbow and benefiting those living with HIV/AIDS.

“A Choreographers’ Showcase,” now in its fifth year, gives the artistic minds in NBT and Cirque a chance to choreograph on themselves and each other. The concert tends to be a lively mix of fresh ideas and excellent dancing. Catch the show at 1 p.m. on June  9 and 10 at the Viva Elvis theater at CityCenter. Tickets are $20 and $40 and can be purchased by calling 702-590-7760 or by clicking here.

“Ribbon of Life” is another long-standing tradition; this is the 26th anniversary of the show. Choreographers come from all over the city, lending the show a diverse and vibrant feel that has the added perk of raising thousands of dollars for Golden Rainbow, a nonprofit organization. “Ribbon of Life” will be performed at 1 p.m. on June 24 at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Smith Center box office at 702-749-2000.

Courtesy of CaesarsPalace.com

The rollicking, rambunctious show lives up to its spirited namesake: “Absinthe” is an intimate, Cirque-esque affair in a tent outside Caesars Palace that is likely to give pause to even the most seasoned spirit drinker. The production is equal parts lowbrow humor and high-flying acro, mixed well and poured over a sugar cube of incredible talent. The Gazillionaire and Penny Pibbets emcee the show and contribute a kick of bitterness with crass and spectacularly foul-mouthed dialogue that is unlike almost anything else in Las Vegas.

The beauty of “Absinthe” is that it isn’t just a show. Walking into the Spiegeltent is like being transported to a time when circuses weren’t polished, politically correct productions with sophisticated sensibilities. The inside of the smallish tent is just plastered with all manner of paraphernalia and packed with people. The stage itself is only 9 feet in diameter, which creates more of a side-show atmosphere than a million-dollar proscenium theater ever could.

And the performers themselves are dumbfounding. Four Russian guys throwing themselves and each other around? Check. A chick in roller skates spinning quite fast around a dude in roller skates spinning quite fast, perhaps by just an ankle or two hooked behind his neck? Check. An acrobat doing a headstand on top of a beer keg on top of a chair on top of a bar held by two guys on a tightrope? Check, check and check.

The Atlantis acrobatic group helps “Absinthe” stun audiences from the start.

A sultry Green Fairy makes an appearance, as does a spellbinding trapeze duo and a straps act that is truly amazing. The skill of the multifarious artists is continually juxtaposed by generous doses of raunchiness from Penny and the Gazillionaire, though, which keeps things from getting too familiar to Cirque du Soleil connoisseurs. By the time the first 15 minutes of the show have transpired, Gaz (as his friends call him) has picked on Republicans, Mexicans, Republicans, blacks, Republicans, women, Republicans, fanny packs, and Republicans. In a performing world that seems terrified of offending anyone at all, “Absinthe” is a refreshing (if shocking, at times) breath of air.

Like the heady green drink after which it is named, “Absinthe” might be hard to stomach at times, and it might leave you feeling a bit woozy after. If you’re looking for a different kind of show in this performance-saturated city of ours, though, it might be just what the doctor ordered.

Find more information about “Absinthe” and Spiegelworld here and here, respectively. The latter link also includes more about “Empire,” another Spiegelworld show debuting soon in New York. Paul Carr also saw and reviewed “Absinthe” for the Huffington Post, and his take is available here. And, finally, KNPR’s “State of Nevada” recently featured some of the big brains of Spiegelworld. Check out the story here for more about “Absinthe,” “Empire,” and what makes the (Spiegel)world go ’round.

“Absinthe” is performed at 8 p.m. in the Spiegeltent outside Caesars Palace Tuesday through Sunday, with multiple shows on some nights. Click here for more about tickets and showtimes.

Master teachers Allan McCormick and Adele Binelli will each be giving master classes at the Rock Center for Dance on May 11 and 13, respectively. Allan’s classes are slated for 2-3:30 and 6:30-8 p.m. on Friday, May 11, and Adele will be teaching on Sunday, May 13, from 2-4 p.m.

Both artists are known for their contemporary flair and invigorating classes (and impressive resumes, if you’re into that), so grab your game face and come on out.

If you’re interested in seeing more work, check out Adele’s YouTube channel here and some of Allan’s choreography here. For more information about adult classes at the Rock, click here.

Update, May 12: click on the link below for a teaser for Adele’s  Sunday class! Find it here:

http://youtu.be/uybEyBSlgEc