Tag Archive: the rock center for dance

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:



Giulio Scatola, Cirque’s talent scout, will be at the Rock Center for Dance from 1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. today for an artistic master class designed to demonstrate what, exactly, Cirque is looking for at annual auditions. Don’t let that motivation fool you, though. The workshops tend to have an intimate, intensely creative feel and Scatola makes it difficult to remember that he was recently one of the intimidating faces sitting on the panel for the January and February auditions.

Come prepared for a good warm-up, contemporary and jazz choreography and some acting exercises thrown in for good measure. (More information is on the flier.) Mostly, though, come with your game face and an open mind and prepare to be inspired.

It’s not the apocalypse, but the pressure might have you feeling that way. Cirque’s open call for ballet and contemporary dancers is tomorrow, Jan. 29 at the Rock Center for Dance. If this year is like previous ones, about 300 of your closest friends will be there as well, so pack a snack or two — you’re going to be there awhile — and come out. Guys are slated for 9 a.m. until noon and girls will join in at 11:30 a.m. until around 6.

For details about and photos from last year’s audition, click here. And remember to bring your game face!

Wednesday is fast becoming a day of remembrance for slain dancer Debora Flores-Narvaez, who was reported missing last month and whose body has recently been found. Entertainers across the city are banding together to raise money for family members of the dancer, who said they are planning to send her remains back to Puerto Rico, her homeland. In addition to “A Celebration of Life,” the benefit concert at Crown Nightclub, renowned choreographers Eddie Garcia and J.J. Villar are holding a workshop at the Rock Center for Dance.

The “Live to Dance Another Day” workshop is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and admission is a $10 minimum donation. Proceeds will go to support Flores-Narvaez and The Shade Tree, a shelter in Las Vegas. For more information on both the concert at the Rio and the workshop at the Rock, head over to DebbieBenefit.com.

City Ballet of San Diego, along with ballet students from Reno and Las Vegas, brought Sugar Plum and Co. to the Theatre for the Performing Arts at Planet Hollywood on Dec. 4.

As far as Vegas shows go, this was a step in a different direction. A company other than Nevada Ballet Theatre was onstage in pointe shoes and, contrary to the unwritten Vegas Code, there was an intermission. It juxtaposed the uber-production mode of the city as well, replacing figurative (and literal) smoke and mirrors with classically painted sets.

City Ballet performed very respectably, with smoothly produced acts and eye-catching dancing. The polished company was backed by ballet students from Jill Mattson’s Classical Ballet in Reno and the Rock Center for Dance and Henderson International School in Las Vegas.

Having the children and teenagers onstage alongside a professional company was one of the sweetest parts of the show. Coupled with toddlers in the audience in Christmas dresses and shiny shoes, it brought a classic holiday feel to this snowless city.

The classic storyline essentially stayed the same, with a fresh-faced Clara falling in love with her Nutcracker doll and taking a journey to the Kingdoms of Snow and Sweets. City Ballet embodied each role well, with demur, waltzing flowers, fiendish mice, dynamic Spanish divas and a long-legged dancer that performed the Arabian variation with captivating pliability.

The children in the party scene, comprised of Jill Mattson’s students, held up their end of the deal with bouncing choreography and age-appropriate hand-games and giggles. Kids from the Rock stepped in as cavalry and soldiers to fend off mice, further adding to the “cute” factor.

The Chinese variation, although only about a minute long, was performed energetically, backed by a ribbon-bearing corps from Jill Mattson’s Classical Ballet. Madame Ginger, with a skirt full of bon-bons from the Rock Center for Dance, featured a nicely coordinated corps of munchkins that was well received by the audience.

Aerial cartwheels and double fans made the Russian variation particularly dynamic and contrasted nicely with the fluffy emboites of the Reed Flutes. The Snowflakes in the Kingdom of Snow scene embodied the best of a ballet corps with excellent timing and symmetrical lines.

As far as classical variations go, Tara Formanek as Rose in “Waltz of the Flowers” and Ariana Samuelsson as the Sugar Plum Fairy shone through. The two each lent a sense of ease to their roles, an absolute necessity for strong classical ballet. Samuelsson especially displayed beautiful technique, demonstrating floating pirouettes and arcing extension with a yawning sense of effortlessness.

On the whole, Vegas doing “The Nutcracker” is an interesting scenario. Teenagers in Vans were interspersed throughout the audience (although that could arguably happen anywhere) and hearing Tchaikovsky playing outside the theater alongside jingling slot machines was, well, unique. If this is to become a tradition, a few things could be modified: having the Planet Hollywood venue added to the ambience of the show, but the $60-$90 ticket price and the one-night deal could be a bit off-putting for some.

However, giving aspiring dancers an opportunity to perform with a professional company is an experience that should be repeated and the producers could certainly do worse than City Ballet. Next time, if there is one, it would be nice to have the here for longer than one performance.

Starbucks has its holiday cups. For some dancers, rehearsals for holiday shows have started — tunes about mistletoe and snow (what is that again?) can be heard in studios all over the city.

Another holiday tradition took place on Nov. 27 at the Rock Center for Dance: Melena Rounis, with help from Katy Tate, organized the second Step Up and Dance event, a fundraiser that takes donations for Three Square food bank in Las Vegas. In the space of four hours, 88 dancers signed up and $1,440 was donated, which is the equivalent of more than 4,000 meals. All of the proceeds from the event will be donated to Three Square.

The workshop brought together eight different performers, many with credits from shows on the Strip and elsewhere, to teach a post-Thanksgiving dance-fest that raised money for families in need. The four-hour block of time was divided into eight half-hour-long sessions. Agnes Roux, Katy Tate, Saleemah Knight, Fred Odgaard, Brent Borbon, Leah Moyer, Sheila Joy and Rounis herself each taught a class in styles including zumba, hip hop, jazz, ballroom, burlesque, contemporary, lyrical and jazz funk.

Participants donated $10 at the door and were welcome to take as much or as little class as they wanted and all ages were welcome.

“It’s so much positivity in one day that it’s crazy,” Rounis said.

Rounis commented on the benefits that the workshop has for those who participate. “You’re getting so much back,” she said, “and not just the feel-good aspect but the health aspect, too.”

The workshop also gave students an opportunity to stand alongside accomplished dancers. “[The students are] in class with professional dancers that are in shows on the Strip that they might have seen,” Rounis said. “It’s really inspiring for them.”

Rounis said that the idea sprang from a similar event she held at Drive Dance Centre, a studio she and Geneen Georgiev opened in Vancouver in 2007. “Once the recession happened,” Rounis said, “I thought, ‘What can I do to help those that have really been affected by this?”

This was the second Step Up ad Dance event and Rounis said that the diversity of the faculty has been expanded. Last year’s teachers all hailed from “The Beatles LOVE,” the show in which Rounis is currently cast. “We hoped to attract a more eclectic crowd [this year],” Rounis said, referring both to the faculty and the participants.

Jasmine Villamor, who participated in Step Up and Dance, said the diversity of the faculty was a big draw. “It was a full day of every kind of dance possible and it was perfect timing after Thanksgiving,” she said with a laugh. “It showed what Vegas dance has to offer.” Villamor also commented on what it was like to take class from, and next to, such experienced performers. “It was inspriational,” she said. “It puts you in the mindset that [that level of achievement] is possible.”

For many of the guest teachers, professionalism and training for future careers took center stage.

“You need to be able to pick up choreography and attach an emotion to it right away,” said Saleemah Knight, pictured left, who taught jazz funk and currently dances with Disney’s “The Lion King” at Mandalay Bay. “When you tell the story, it makes sense,” Knight said. “If you’re just doing the steps, you’re going to look stupid.”

Leah Moyer, who taught a contemporary class and is a member of Cirque’s “Viva ELVIS” cast, shared a similar message. “Just be you,” she said, emphasizing that this was the driving force behind her choreography. “Be there, be present,” she said. “Just don’t do steps and don’t fake it.”

Emotional cortexes weren’t the only part of the dancers that received a workout. Fred Odgaard,  powerfully built and energetic, led dancers in a warm-up that he said he and other fellow dancers call “cardio Barbie” (see photo, right). The exercise was a series of jumping jacks and the like designed to elevate the heartrate and get dancers’ blood pumping.

Roux’s spicy zumba kicked off the workshop, providing a Latin-themed warm-up for the rest of the day. Tate’s unique lyrical followed, complete with pleasantly literal choreography and percussive syncopations.

Borbon and Joy held down the high-heeled contingent with ballroom and burlesque, respectively. Borbon’s light-footed and light-hearted banter displayed partnering at its best and Joy dimmed the lights to illustrate a sexier side of Vegas dance.

The day culminated in Rounis’ hip hop/party dance choreography, complete with RoboCop moves and James Brown slides.

The crowd of dancers, many of whom had stayed through the entire workshop, gradually dispersed. Rounis, her small frame eclipsed by an oversized bag stuffed with dance gear, dashed off to The Mirage and the two “LOVE” shows that awaited.

Interested in seeing footage of some of the choreography? Check out my post here for a link.

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Step Up and Dance Video Link

If you can’t possibly wait another second for photos and a post about Melena Rounis’ Step Up and Dance fundraiser on Nov. 27, fear not: footage of the event is available in high-definition glory here.  Remember to keep checking back here for photos and interviews! Hang tight with the video in the meantime.