Before a small audience in the West Las Vegas Library Theater, Bernard Gaddis asserts the importance of culture and arts to a community. The Cirque du Soleil dancer, who performed seven years with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, is relentless in his message that comes packaged with a Valentine’s-themed free performance by the Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater.
“Culture and the arts are what keeps a city alive,” he says during the Saturday discussion. “These dancers are a reflection of who you are as a human being ... Dance is more than putting on a costume. This is about making a difference in the world.”
This is how it works with LVCDT’s outreach program, geared mostly toward children. The program walks audiences through the basics of putting on a production and the various styles that make up contemporary dance.
What’s most important to Gaddis, however, is that the dancers reflect their community, which is why his artists are selected rather than auditioned and range in age from 15 to 53. The talented dancers hail from Lebanon, Puerto Rico and various U.S. cities (including the small town of Gardnerville, Nevada), representing diverse racial and cultural backgrounds.
Gaddis started the four-year-old company housed in the Holsum Design Center and funded primarily out of his own pocket to “bring a sense of what Las Vegas is about,” not on the Strip, but in a community made up of different cultures and individuals.
That’s evident in the afternoon’s solid performances, paying tribute to Duke Ellington and Ailey, capturing the essence of Natalie Cole’s sweet and sensual voice and referencing West African Bata Drums. It shows once again that there is plenty of talent off the Strip that is more than happy to give to the community. Bravo.