Tag Archive: the lion king

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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Las Vegas is a city of recreations, shamelessly mixing icons from other places into a veritable soup of sensationalism that has a flavor all its own. The things that are unique to the city tend to be unflattering, adorning the streets in the form of yard-long drinks or sun-scorched tourists with fanny-packs.

One Vegas import is keeping it real, though. Disney’s “The Lion King,” directed by Julie Taymor and onstage at Mandalay Bay until December of this year, is one of those blessed hybrids gracing our sun-stricken valley. Even a drag queen in zebra-striped tights would have a difficult time keeping up with life-size puppets, arresting dancing (with choreography by Garth Fagan) and vocals that are positively captivating. These histrionic elements, coupled with the familiarity of the storyline and the toe-tapping songs themselves (courtesy of Elton John and Time Rice), make for a show that will be sorely missed in seven months’ time.

The plot follows the lion Simba from cub-hood to king-hood, accompanied by the bird Zazu (Patrick Kerr) and future queen Nala (Nia Ashleigh and Lauryn Hardy). The performance from nose to tail runs more than two hours long, with an intermission midway through and only a few omissions from the original. Although this doesn’t follow the Vegas-show template, the loftier ticket price and established reputation make this decision a shrewd one.

The first act sees a devious uncle Scar (Thom Sesma) orchestrating the death of King Mufasa (Derrick Williams), falsely implicating young Simba (Tim Johnson Jr. and Zaire Adams) and tricking him into exile. In the second act, Nala (Kissy Simmons), a regal adult by this point, hunts down Simba (Jelani Remy) in an effort to save the Pride Lands that are being destroyed under Scar’s rule.

Supporting characters, including Scar’s pantheon of mangy hyenas and Simba’s hilarious, “no worries” sidekicks Timon (Aaron De Jesus) and Pumba (Adam Kozlowski), are as engaging as the main cast. The stage, a masterpiece in itself, also adds to the ambience by seamlessly transitioning from a breezy grassland to an elephant graveyard to a canyon rife with stampeding wildebeests. Two percussionists situated in the house are the cherries on top and the effect is absolutely engrossing.

The running time might be daunting for munchkins, but the theatrical quality of “The Lion King” at Mandalay Bay is top-notch. For more information about the show, follow the link here. Tickets are available here — get them before they migrate back to the Savannah.