★★★★★ - Irresistible
It's a noble quest and happens to be the theme of the 2016 "A Choreographers' Showcase," the ninth annual visually electric, wonderfully eclectic collaboration between Nevada Ballet Theatre and Cirque du Soleil, playing now in the Mystére Theatre at Treasure Island. There's a refreshing immediacy, clarity, and hopefulness to this year's show that speaks to a human desire for connection and harmony amidst upheaval.
Creative Directors Tiffany Baker and James Canfield have curated a dynamic collection of 13 works by company artists and technicians that flow seamlessly and even echo back, with performances that feel gloriously carefree.
NBT's Future Dance Scholars appear in the playful Prelude, Interludes, and Finale, led by Jose Concepcion Suarez who serves as the Emcee. The "Prelude," by Baker and Alan D. Medina Narvaez, features the song "Joy" by John Abraham played by him and three other musicians as angelic childrencollect tools from spotlighted artists and place them in Emcee's colorful suitcase, thus establishing the theme.
"Lotus Opening" by Emily Carr is set to the chanting "Ganapati Om" by Donna De Lory. Six dancers dressed in purple and magenta yoga clothes perform gentle "heart opening" poses and leaps in a circular pattern to represent a blossoming flower and create a serene, harmonious mood.
"Pray," by Cirque's Manine Kim and Moon Lee is a mind blowing piece with phenomenal visuals, set to "A Baru in New York" by Yolanda Be Cool. A man in white moves slowly downstage in animation style as others dance behind him. He stops and stares up into a spotlight, as if searching for meaning. He then moves slowly upstage, lit in silhouette as theatrical haze envelops him. He seems to be floating on clouds, and the effect is spiritual and surprisingly emotional.
"Crimes Against Humanity," by Makeda Crayton set to the mournful "Ray's Theme" by Craig Armstrong and "Water" by Rachel's System/Layers, is a disturbing contemporary piece about the sad effects of war on ordinary people. Different combinations of dancers tell individual and collective stories. Through a difficult acrobatic lift we see a soldier killed by gunfire, and in duets we witness despondent parents trying to escape the horror.
"In the During of a Moment" is a folk song by The Lowest Pair, and serves as a charming love duet by NBT's Caroline MacDonald. Yoda Jones moves and poses Eastern Indian style with aesthetic precision to the plucking beats of a banjo, a contrasting Cupid to the elegant, free-flowing dance of Christina Ghiardi and Morgan Stillman.
"Fathomless" by Caine Keenan to "Le Saule" by Martin St. Pierre on violin, is a contemporary piece that features performers dressed all in black, appearing as cat burglars. Under wild lighting and a revolving stage they dance together and in solo center, with angular, spinning arms and purposeful, meditative walks.
"Ondulacion," by Stephan Azulay to the guitars of Jose Galvan and Jose Luis Monton, is a steamy contemporary blending of Flamenco and ballet. It features three seductive pairs of shirtless men in black pants matched with women in long red dresses dancing provocatively, clapping, flicking, and posing in the Toreador way. The reluctant duets are slow, simmering, and serious as tradition dictates, yet at the same time fiercely modern.
"Merry-Go-Round" by Gene Kimlin and Max Torandell is set to the pulsating "Murakami" by Made in Heights and is a fabulously inventive take on synchronized swimming. Dancers in carousel corsets form a circle lying on the revolving stage with legs raised, creating precise configurations with their arched then flexed feet as an acrobat performs in the center.
"Murmuration" by Arnaud Boursain and Alexis Ochin is a sophisticated, meditative piece set to the hypnotic "Grace" by Cyril Hahn. Taking the concept of starling flocks in murmuration formations, dancers move effortlessly about in harmony and coordination, swaying one after the other, flicking their hands and arms toward the sky. The effect is spellbinding, calming, and overwhelmingly reassuring.
"Oasis" is a fantastical piece by Kent Caldwell set to St. Pierre's composition. Steampunk, post apocalyptic figures carry a glowing green crystal and dance around a deconstructed tree sculpture in the center. There are girls in white dresses with glowing head dresses, creatures in bodysuits dancing en pointe, and a sinister Queen figure. It's quintessential, mystical, glorious Cirque.
"Blinders" is an acrobatic ballet by Jason Plowman and Daria Sobelman set to the ambient "Cloud City" by Cotton Wolf. It has a trancelike feel and features three pairs contorting and posing in flesh colored bodysuits. They hold books while pages from books flutter from the sky, and makes a statement about the dangers of the internet encouraging anti-intellectualism.
"Maculele" by Wellington Lima set to "Voce bebeu Jurema" beautifully brings the show full circle with an ebullient Brazilian dance. Joyful dancers clap, chant, sing and perform mock stick combat in a number that delightfully draws the audience in.
Kudos to Cirque and NBT.
There are two performances this weekend and is not to be missed.