By Hal de Becker




Nevada Ballet Theatre and Cirque du Soleil join forces again for A Choreographers’ Showcase at the Aria Resort June 9th and 10th at 1:00 PM. This will be the fifth year the two organizations have presented original dance works created by their own performing artists.


There is nothing ‘amateur’ about these productions. The venue itself, the Elvis Theater, is a state of the art facility backstage, on stage and out front. It’s spacious and equipped to provide all types of special effects. Seating and sight lines are as comfortable as an armchair at home in front of a giant TV screen.


All the artists are talented, creative professionals.When I wrote about last year’s performance, I observed that many of the works could grace the repertoire of a seasoneddance company and I’m confident it will be the same this year.


The show, with its classical and show-biz derivations, can be a refreshingly different treat for locals and a cultural surprise for tourists. Tickets are available at Nevadaballet.org or 702-590-7760 and all proceeds are tax deductible and benefit NBT, a non-profit organization.


Performances of the ballet Giselle are rarely presented locally. However, at 2 pm on June 16/17 at Summerlin Library Performing Arts Center Las Vegas Ballet Company will perform Act II of this 19th century classic considered by many to epitomize ballet’s Romantic period.





Giselle is an innocent maid who falls in love with an aristocrat, Albrecht, believing he loves her too.Her discovery that he has been deceiving her results in her death.In Act II the guilt ridden Albrecht visits her grave and is confronted by vengeful forest spirits called Wilis who force him into a dance of death.He is saved by the spirit of the forgiving Giselle.


Despite its somber setting Act II is filled with some of the most exciting solos, sensitive duets and glorious ensemble dances to be found anywhere in the classical repertoire.


Yoomi Lee performs the title role and Kyudong Kwak (her real life husband) portrays


Albrecht.Guest Artist, Caine Keenan, appears as Albrecht’s rival, Hilarion and Alexandra Keft and Miranda Jackson alternate in the role of Myrtha, queen of the Wilis.The corps de ballet includes 21 dancers from the Kwak Academy.


The program also includes dances based on “Midsummer Night’s Dream”, a contemporary piece entitled “Use Somebody” and excerpts from “Les Patineurs” (The Skaters) in which Mr. Keenan, a member of Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theatre, which incidentally makes its debut at The Smith Center May 29th, dances a special solo.


Tickets are a bargain at $20 and are available at www.lasvegasballet.org or by calling 866-967-8167 or at the theater the days of the performances.


Nevada School of Dance (NSD) is a division of Nevada Arts Academy which, in addition to dance from ballet to salsa, provides high caliber instruction in musical theory and instruments, as well as painting and interior and fashion design.


Two prominent Russian trained dancers, Ella Gourkova (Ms. Ella as she’s affectionately known to her students) and her husband Sergey Popov, bring masterful international credentials to NSD: she as ballet mistress and principal ballet instructor, he as the academy’s co- director.


I recently had the pleasure and privilege of serving on the juror panel for NSD’s highest level annual ballet examination focusing on six of the school’s most accomplished young dancers.One of the teenagers had a leg injury and couldn’t display all her skills but the other five resembled those fabulous young students we’ve seen in films of the Paris Opera Ballet School or Russia’s Vaganova Kirov Ballet Institute (of which Ms. Ella is a graduate).


As impressed as I was with the beautifully intricate and musical ballet combinations created by Ms. Ella, it didn’t immediately dawn on me how difficult they were because her pupils, Valera Cruz-Colon, Brittany Kreichbaumer, Flavia Morante, Selena Rizova and Izabella Tokev, had been trained to execute them effortlessly and with appropriate style.


Ms. Ella will be conducting NSD’s ballet classes for its Summer Intensive program in July and August.It will be an excellent opportunity for dancers of all ages to experience ballet instruction from a teacher possessing true and total command of the world renowned Vaganova system.



I hope that, despite the pull of teenage distractions, NSD’s talented youngsters remain dedicated to their art and their exemplary teacher. For some students, ballet can be a temporary and healthy hobby, but I’m persuaded that it’s taken far more seriously by the ones I saw at the examination and probably many others at NSD. Their reward can be years of joyful artistic fulfillment and a source of pride for their parents.


At Las Vegas Clark County Library District’s venues local theater-goers have for decades enjoyed outstanding performances of dance, drama, and music. Because rental fees for these ‘library theaters’ had been reasonable, ticket prices were traditionally modest and enabled seniors, students and others to attend a good show or concert they might otherwise have been unable to afford.


However, according to Marci Riedy, a volunteer organizer and production manager for Broadway Bound Kidz, anon-profitchildren’stheatre company, this may be coming to an end.


According to Ms. Riedy, the Library District has increased theater rental rates for non-profit and community special interest groups from $10 to $170 per hour and technician labor from $12 to $40 per hour.Ms. Riedy, a former VP of Finance for the Flamingo, Harrah’s and Hilton hotels, states that the Library District’s financial explanation for the increases is “significantly flawed.”


Hardest hit by the increases will be small dance, drama and music troupes, many of them non-profit, as well as schools that present student recitals and Yuletide productions. Many a-now-celebrated performing artist took their fledgling theatrical steps on a ‘library theater’ stage. Are those days over in Las Vegas?

To avoid that prospect, Ms. Riedy invites dance, drama and music lovers to sign an online petition at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.protesting the magnitude of the Library District’s rental increases.

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