Banquet of a Dance Feast

21st Annual Las Vegas Dance In the Desert Festival

Summerlin Library & Performing Arts Center

July 26 and 27, 2019


Gourmet dance feast.

This annual festival is food for the soul.

After 21 years, Dance in the Desert Festival still brings outstanding dance presentations from around the country to Las Vegas to delight the artistic palate of dancers and non-dancers alike.

Each year, there are dance pieces, dancers, and messages that are unforgettable. One exits in a daze of wondrous soaring and flowing human images permanently etched into memory.  The choreographic creativity and the performing expressiveness change the heart and breath, metaphysically transforming even those who only watch. Witnessing the creations is an annual pilgrimage to a dance sanctuary, a reinvigoration of the imagination and soul.

The festival opened with Kaleidoscape Dance’s Siren’s Call, a lovely flowing number, a beautiful welcoming piece. This was followed by a premiere from Dulce Dance Company called Transcending Whole (photo).This male solo was electric and gripping. It exuded athleticism, yearning and tortured suffering. Costuming complimented the choreography and style.

Dulce Dance Company’s “Transcending Whole”. (Photo credit: Richard Brusky)

Special mention of the lighting by the theatre lighting designer must be made. Each piece was uniquely and thoughtfully lit.  The transitions and designs gave each dance piece its own world and ecosystem.  The lighting did exactly what it should – framed the dancers in mood-appropriate aura.

Las Vegas Dance Ensemble presented a premiere also, C’est Notre Temp. This vivacious piece had a lyrical, balletic style. It was spritely and lively and very enjoyable. Concert Dance Company offered an earthy, old-world and pioneer feel in its Boarder Crossings.

Wight Noise Dance Company presented Beauty from the Ashes, a large group number with a contemporary style and notably interesting formation changes. The same company presented Journey, a male duet with an excellent flowing style and great energy that was very uplifting. The lighting was wonderful.

Movement Theatre CoLab offered a lovely, edgy, science-fictiony duet in Visions & Vortices for Two ver 1. The lighting was artistically haunting. Each pose was a portrait unto itself. The style was robotic yet sinuous. The dancers’ great technique and partnering prowess were enhanced by their interconnectedness. They also offered Traces of Self which showcased great interactive choreography and solid technique.

“Visions and Vortices For Two ” by Movement Theatre CoLab. (Photo credit: Richard Brusky)

Canyon Movement Company surprised and delighted the audience with a comedic piece about the frustrations of waiting…and waiting….and waiting… in a doctor’s office garbed only in a dignity-depleting hospital gown. What fun can a dancer have with a rolling exam stool that spins and rises and falls and a flowing gown that flaps in the wind?  A lot! Exam Room humanized the long, cold wait for health care. It was charming, and the dancers showed their joy to great effect.  This writer can’t wait to do a spinning fan kick on a rolling stool at the next doctor’s visit! courtesy of Sean Openshaw Photography. Please give him the credit.  The picture is Gina Darlington in Exam Room by Canyon Movement Company.

Gina exam room
Gina Darlington in “Exam Room” by Canyon Movement Company. (Photo courtesy of Sean Openshaw)

Diane McNeal Hunt/ELEVATE Danceworks presented I Gave My Heart, a beautiful smoothly-danced solo that was simple, clear and precise. Turiya Chavez offered a timely piece The Many, which began with sound bites of a certain politician repeating “Billions and billions”. Dancers in business attire embodied chaotic yet robotic strength. Cat & Fish Dancers’ Micah Burkhardt performed a solo Soft Front that showcased his limber, dynamic style, and highlighted his smooth yet powerful movement. Rat Race by DMJ Dance Collective featured a large group in green costumes using balloons that had minds of their own. The dancers had terrific technique and synchrony. The piece was sharply and cleanly executed.

“Rat Race” by DMJ Dance Collective 

Jaricco Dance presented PULSE, a suite with sections named Connected, Hope and Inner Pulse. This piece had simply marvelous dancing with consistent attack and precision right through the demanding choreography until the last second. The choreography and performance were intricately sophisticated, and presented with virtuosic technique that made it easy for the audience to get lost in the magic.

Many gracious thanks to Kelly Roth, Dance Program Head of CSN and Artistic Director of Kelly Roth & Dancers and Concert Dance Company, who keeps the festival running and fresh every year. In answer to your musings in your program note – you bring more healing to the world than you know.

Grade: A+++

Audience: all ages

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