For its fall outing, the College of Southern Nevada Dance Department offered a bill mixing an abstract and intellectually distant duet with a large-scale cynical view of interpersonal relationships, stopping along the way for an introspective solo and a psychedelic trip down Boomer memory lane.
The program opened with Mozart Duet, a work originally choreographed in 1978 by Kelly Roth, now CSN’s artistic director. Roth and Allie Lincoln admirably executed the technically difficult step patterns and complex partner work, displaying a polish gained from performing the piece at recent guest appearances throughout the Southwest. The piece flowed seamlessly, as the rhythms of the dance bounced from one musical instrument to another.
Let It Rain, a powerful solo by Marko Westwood, followed. A gifted performer, Westwood demonstrated his complete control of his instrument with his choreography, yet he never allowed his technique to overwhelm the emotional charge of the dance.
The first half of the concert ended with In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, a cheerful homage to ’60s psychedelia and a piece that provided an opportunity for students to perform with seasoned dancers. Roth inspires newcomers to take the stage with purpose, reminding us dance is not only for the artistic elite.
A dance event accompanied by live music is a rare treat in Las Vegas. For The Juliet Letters, singer Paul Villaluz and the Sol Quartet skillfully executed Elvis Costello’s material from their position onstage with the dancers.
More dance theater than traditional dance, Juliet is loosely based on a newspaper story concerning a Verona professor who answered letters addressed to Shakespeare’s heroine. Performers moved in and out of the piece, taking on characterizations as needed.
Leslie Roth, best known as the glue that holds CSN’s chorus together, displayed a gift for comedy, using fine and precise movements to define her quirky character. In another vignette, Westwood and returning alumnus Jaime Velilla effectively portrayed two military buddies. Velilla demonstrated solid and grounded modern technique without sacrificing spring or elevation.
Due to the complex nature of the work, several dancers were able to emerge from their “normal” groups and combinations. One intriguing configuration paired Westwood with Allie Lincoln. Similar in height and coloring, the two dancers share similarly straightforward technique and good-humored stage temperament.
Unfortunately, the well-performed music and dance was tied to a tedious, minor composition. Juliet’s various songs are often repetitive, both in musical style and lyrical intent, making for a long evening. At risk of angering Elvis Costello purists, the work could benefit from a bit of a trim.