Dance Is Like Chocolate

Las Vegas Contemporary Dance TheaterCourtesy of Jason James Skinner
Colette Harris performs “Trying
Times”

Dance is like chocolate. Sometimes you just need to have something sweet, especially on Valentine’s Day. Besides the well-deserved Valentine’s Day chocolate fix, I wanted to partake of the latest dance program dished up by the Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater (LVCDT). The performance was a Valentine’s sweet, held Feb. 13–14, in a program called “Past, Present & Future,” part of the African American Choreographic Legends Series. The program featured choreography by Bernard Gaddis, Elisa Monte and guest choreographer Krislyn World-Heil.

The performance opened with a Gaddis-choreographed excerpt from “Bata,” a percussive, rhythmic piece set under contrasting overhead lighting. Another Gaddis piece followed: “Trying Times,” with music by Roberta Flack. The lyrical solo, beautifully danced by Colette Harris, was pure Ailey-style. The soul and dramatic reach of this exquisite, tall dancer in swirling dress was pure treat; she was a vision – turning, leaping and grabbing air. The audience was on its feet at the end. I wouldn’t have given up the moment to be there and be part of the poetry. “Trying Times” captured the times … and yes, these are trying times for us all.

Read Matthew 11:28Courtesy of Jason James Skinner
“Read Matthew 11:28”
“I wanted more of this selection.
I wanted it not to end.”

“Dreamtime” was the next treat. Choreographed by Elisa Monte, this ballet took the audience through an Aboriginal dreamlike state. The repetitive choreography suggested that spirits can move in divinely destined ways. After the intermission was “Mississippi 1964.” Bernard Gaddis was outstanding in this stark depiction of the struggle and pain of being black in the Deep South during the mid-1960s.

“Read Matthew 11:28,” with choreography by Krislyn World-Heil and music by Bobby McFerrin, lifted the rhythm and lightness of the dancers, who were dressed all in white. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” I wanted more of this selection. I wanted it not to end.

Mood IndigoCourtesy of Jason James Skinner
“Mood Indigo,” a classic Duke
Ellington tune danced by the
company

“Mood Indigo” was the finale. Upbeat and playful, vibrant in style – the company danced effortlessly with the Duke Ellington music.

The Valentine weekend dance event was free. If you weren’t there, your next opportunity to see this company dance from the heart will be at its 2nd Annual Spring Concert Series, which will run from May 6 to May 10, 2009, at the Summerlin Performing Arts Center.

The two-program series will have new works such as “Ebony Suite,” which will include music by Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Etta James, Aretha Franklin and Bill Withers, and “Shrouded in Mist,” choreographed by Bernard Gaddis with music by Arvo Part. Other favorites will include “Read Matthew 11:28” and “Essential Bach,” a full-length ballet.

Soooo sweet – yes, dancing can be as sweet as a forbidden box of Valentine’s Day chocolate. Watching the Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater affords you the pleasure without the calories.

Tickets for the Spring Concert Series are on sale now or can be purchased the day of the performance at the Summerlin Performing Arts Center (1771 Inner Circle Drive) at a cost of $35 and $40. For more information about the performance and the LVCDT, visit the LVCDT Web site or call (702) 878-1227.

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