Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019 | 2 a.m.
If you really want to understand the impact of Cirque du Soleil on the local arts community over its 25-plus years in Las Vegas, take a trip to Treasure Island this weekend to check out the first of three collaborative shows with Nevada Ballet Theatre. The 12th annual choreographers’ showcase production, dubbed “Beyond the Stage,” will take over the Mystére Theatre at 1 p.m. October 6, uniting performers and creators from both companies in the name of pure artistic growth.
“As dancers, we do the same thing every day. We hone our skills and training, we perform, we learn choreography. This opportunity lets us step out and show the audience who we are as creators,” says Gianni Howell, who dances in “The Beatles LOVE” at the Mirage and is one of the showcase’s creative guides this year for the first time. “That opportunity is what makes this project special for those from Cirque and NBT, to step outside of our normal day-to-day, to create and be seen and be heard.”
This annual collaboration has yielded more than 100 original works and featured more than 500 artists while bringing unique exposure to the 47-year-old ballet company. Each performance in the showcase is an original work created by individuals or pairs from a group of 16 local choreographers from NBT and Cirque, and more than 60 artists spanning multiple genres of dance as well as acrobatics and aerialists will participate.
“I’ve watched the project every year since coming to Cirque, and it’s always been the most interesting and beautiful project to me because it’s different every year and the collaborations bring so many different types of artists together,” says Howell. “If you think about how long it takes to put on a full production of either company’s show, the process of this with all the original choreography really makes it so special.”
This year’s performances, guided by Howell and Taras Shevchenko, also from Cirque du Soleil, along with NBT Artistic Director Roy Kaiser, will feature digital media elements and technology in each piece. It’s the second year that the showcase has been developed with a cohesive theme.
“In dance today and really in all things, art is introduced to the digital world first. Not many people have the opportunity to see it live, so a lot of dance is introduced on YouTube or Facebook or on people’s Instagram accounts,” Howell says. “People are creating these beautiful concept videos around the world to take dance beyond the stage, and that’s our goal and where we got our title. We want to introduce some of that digital media magic that’s already evolving in the dance world and apply it to our performance.”
Proceeds from the showcase performances will benefit NBT’s season at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts, its academy that trains more than 400 students and its education and outreach programs, which impact more than 20,000 local students every year.
“Beyond the Stage: A Choreographers’ Showcase” will be performed at 1 p.m. October 6, 12 and 13 at Mystére Theatre at Treasure Island (3300 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-894-7111) and more information can be found at nevadaballet.org.