A dance oasis

Dance in the Desert refreshes the local scene

Geri Jeter

One of the summer highlights for local dance fans is the annual Dance in the Desert Festival, now in its ninth year. Festival director Kelly Roth and Kyla Quintero co-founded the ambitious festival, and each year the event has attracted quality performers and companies from throughout the country. Performers from the East Coast and the Midwest, from California, Utah and Arizona, and from Nevada itself bring a diverse expression of artistic sensibilities and cultural traditions.

One of the strengths of the festival is that the organizers build each year on the relationship the audience has developed with performers from years past, while always seeking out new choreographers and new companies to surprise and engage the current year’s attendees. The number of performers and companies has expanded over the years as the festival has grown in popularity and prestige.

Nevertheless, there always seems to be enough room at the table.

Featured performer this year is Peter Kyle, who will present his own cutting-edge choreography, along with “Frail Demons,” a solo from the repertoire of modern dance legend and guest choreographer Murray Louis. A soloist with Nikolais & Murray Louis Dance Company prior to working with the Mark Morris Dance Group and Erick Hawkins Dance Company, Kyle combines athleticism and virtuosity with intelligence and an imaginative theatrical sensibility. According to Louis, “Peter is an artist of the most gifted kind. Intelligent, dedicated and physically blessed, he is absolutely outstanding to watch.”

Also new is the local debut of Las Vegas’ new multicultural repertoire dance company, Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater. The troupe offers a culturally diverse dance aesthetic founded on solid dance techniques. Leading the company are its founders, Artistic Director Bernard Gaddis and Associate Director Charmaine Hunter. Both are former principal dancers for two of the country’s leading dance companies: Gaddis with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Hunter with the Dance Theater of Harlem.

Each of the companies represented in the festival’s three programs offer unique artistic perspectives. The participants include a local improvisation troupe, Threshold Dance; a more traditional modern dance company from Southern California, Nannette Brodie Dance Theatre; the abstract narrative of Kelly Roth & Dancers; and local groups and individual performers Westwood and Dancers, Saving Grace, Michelle Alexander and Anthony Coppola, plus many others. (A reception following each performance will allow the audience to mingle with the dancers.)

The festival continues to grow year by year, inspiring patrons and performers alike, and this edition of Dance in the Desert looks to be as innovative and provocative as always.


9th Annual Dance in the Desert Festival

July 27 at 7:30 p.m.; July 28 at 2 and 7:30 p.m.

Nicholas J. Horn Theatre, College of Southern Nevada

3200 E. Cheyenne, North Las Vegas

$10; $8 seniors, students


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