Ballet, jazz and hip-hop—a winning combination for Cirque and NBT

Cirque du Soleil artist Greg Pennes, left, and dancers perform in “The Ballet,” choreography by Jacqui Lynn Guimond, during “A Choreographers’ Showcase” in the Mystere Theatre at the Treasure Island Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013.
Photo: Steve Marcus

The audience is laughing hysterically. Four perfect ballerinas in tiaras and long, white mesh tutus are sharing the stage with a comical lad in an intentionally ill-fitting tuxedo, augmented by red high-top sneakers and matching suspenders.

His dance is as superb and graceful as it is goofy and facetious (including his gender-reversed lift by all four ballerinas). But it’s his unexpected and highly comedic pompous arrival through the red stage curtains that spins the performance into an audience-wide belly laugh.

Choreographed by Jacqui Lynn Guimond from Love, and titled “The Ballet,” it’s one of 10 numbers in this year’s A Choreographers’ Showcase, the annual collaboration between Nevada Ballet Theatre and Cirque du Soleil that presents mostly new and original works by artists in both companies. (This particular Friday afternoon performance is for a large group of schoolchildren.)

2013 ‘A Choreographers’ Showcase’

While Guimond's“The Ballet” has its humor, Andre Kasten’s “Dust Bowl” expresses the soul of struggle, oppression and overcoming personal and collective heartache. James Cleary’s “Haute Couture” celebrates romantic love -- a poetic constant throughout history-- with contemporary and traditional ballet moves by dancers in the fitted lace and gold lamé of European aristocracy, performing to smooth electronic music.

Prior to each number, choreographers briefly explain their piece and approach to dance, providing insight into the art form. For the NBT dancers and Cirque performers (from KÀ, Zarkana and Love this year) with arduous schedules, Showcase is a welcome chance to explore their creative sides and bust out of usual roles.

New this year is “Read My Hips,” a piece choreographed by Cirque collaborator Daniel Ezralow for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in 1990 and staged by Mystère artistic director David Gomez. But it’s the addition of Terané Comito’s “Shine Bright,” performed by NBT’s Future Dance Scholars (participants in an arts education outreach program), that reminds audiences and performers that Showcase is here as a fundraiser for the program. The talent of the young dancers performing hip-hop and breakdance (sprinkled with some contemporary ballet moves) proves it to be a worthwhile cause.

A Choreographers’ Showcase October 13, 1 p.m., $25-$45. TI, 894-7722.

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Kristen Peterson

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