Culture

Nevada Ballet Theatre to celebrate 40 years—and its move to Smith Center

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NBT celebrates its 40th anniversary May 5 at Reynolds Hall.
Photo: Leila Navidi

The Details

Nevada Ballet Theatre
40th Anniversary Gala & Smith Center Debut
May 5, 7 p.m., $43-$128
Smith Center’s Reynolds Hall, 749-2000

Forty years ago, the Las Vegas Valley was an entirely different place, a small community with no Summerlin or Green Valley to speak of. No Cirque du Soleil, exploding volcanos, Arts District or “world class” performing arts center geared to the community. Locals lunched at casinos, and cultural offerings were, like the town, small in scale. Feeling that Strip performers could use an outlet for their artistic and classical pursuits, Vassili Sulich, a dancer in Tropicana’s Folies Bergere, brought some together for a performance at UNLV. And, as it turned out, audiences were also hungry for classical dance. Nevada Dance Theatre was formed, a grassroots effort that would become an institution with loyal audiences turning out in droves for performances at Judy Bayley Theater.

This weekend’s inaugural performances at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts by the company now known as Nevada Ballet Theatre will mark the group’s 40th anniversary—and serve as a testament to fine art in the entertainment capital of the world.

Saturday’s performance of classical and contemporary dance will mix NBT dancers with principals from American Ballet Theatre and Pacific Northwest Ballet. The program includes works from Balanchine’s Serenade, a pas de deux from Swan Lake and a collaboration between Nevada Ballet and the Strip: a work by Nevada Ballet’s artistic director James Canfield, choreographed to the music of Matt Goss.

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