Dancing doubles

Two upcoming performances trade leads

Geri Jeter

As I child I wanted to be a mad scientist and make monsters and time machines …” –Kelly Roth

Although there are many talented local dancers and choreographers, Las Vegas dance fans usually are lucky if they even have one performance to attend in any given month. Over the next week, however, audiences have the chance to see some of the local scene’s most innovative dance-makers in two separate presentations at two different theaters—CSN’s traditional Nicholas J. Horn Theatre and the small, experimental and edgy Onyx Theatre.

The first performance, the CSN Spring Dance Concert, will be held May 2-3 at the Horn. Choreographer and Dance Department head Kelly Roth combines the CSN Dance Ensemble with the award-winning Concert Dance Company for the revival of his version of Seven Deadly Sins, originally presented in 2002 and set to music by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertholt Brecht. It follows the journey of two sisters, both named Anna, whose material pursuits lead them through seven cities, each representing one of the seven deadly sins.

The work originally premiered in Paris in 1933, in collaboration with famed choreographer George Balanchine, after Brecht and Weill fled Germany. The pre-World War II Germany, with its collapsing financial system, parallels the current slumping U.S. economy, with its rising fuel and food prices. For individuals caught in these bad times, it takes toughness to survive, but the price is a corresponding loss of compassion and charity. The Annas show two responses to the same harsh stimulus: One of them can be soft and gentle, only because the other is not.

Also on the bill are two premieres. The first is Leslie Roth’s It’s Nothing, set to an original electronic/acoustic/vocal score by Phoenix musician Stefan Roth. The other, Reaching Chautauqua, is set to Brahms’ F Minor Sonata for Clarinet and Piano and is a tribute to the late Kim Schmidt, the Chautauqua Institution of the Arts accompanist and chamber player. In keeping with Roth’s tradition of granting his dancers and the audience the luxury of live music, clarinetist John De La Paz and pianist Voltaire Verzosa will accompany the Concert Dance Company at all performances.

In a bit of cultural cross-pollination, guest artist Marko Westwood performs throughout the CSN concert and also will preview an excerpt from his upcoming show. This work, Business As Usual, is set to Vivaldi and takes the dancers through an ordinary workday, during which two people vie for the same client.

Located conveniently behind the Commercial Center leather/fetish shop The Rack on East Sahara, the Onyx Theatre is quickly establishing itself as a venue for new, cutting-edge theater, dance and performance art. Though small at 96 seats, it provides performers a place to explore new approaches to their art in a setting so intimate that the artists can feel immediately if they have reached the folks in the seats. “At this theater,” says Westwood, “the audience never feels detached from the performers.”

May 8-10, Westwood, the witty and accomplished performer and choreographer for the theater’s Cannibal! The Musical, kicks off the Onyx Theatre’s inaugural dance series with a fusion of dance and slam poetry—Speaking Bodies/Moving Words. For the past 14 years, Westwood has choreographed works for UNLV and CSN, for local high schools, for community theater and for his own company, United Dance Experience. The intimacy of his choreography will be a good fit for the small venue.

He will be joined by UNLV’s Cathy Allen, who will premiere a solo set to Bach, and Kelly Roth of CSN, who will reprise his successful duet, Adieu au Gateau. The program will be anchored by various Westwood pieces from past performances, along with two new works, including a duet dedicated to the pets lost in the Paradise Pet Hospital fire.

Hyatt Mason, host of Sunday poetry night at reJAVAnate Coffee Lounge, and Mick Axelrod, a member of the 2008 Las Vegas Slam Poetry Team, will present original works throughout the course of each evening’s program.

CSN Spring Dance Concert

May 2, 7:30 p.m.; May 3, 2 and 7:30 p.m., $5-$8. CSN Performing Arts Center, 651-5483

Speaking Bodies/Moving Words: A Fusion of Slam Poetry & Dance

May 8-10, 8 p.m., $10.

Onyx Theater, 732-7225

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