A fresh Light in the dark light of Las Vegas

In the American Sodom and Gomorrah two miles from the flash and hustle of the Strip rises a swirl of Italian marble, Indiana limestone, Venetian marble and zebrawood, topped by a 17 stories tall-story campanile with 47 handcrafted cast bronze bells that weigh in at a total of 29,500 lbs. Throughout the day they will ring in celebration of all that The Smith Center will bring to this city of entertainement.

English: Photo of the Smith Center for the Per...

English: Photo of the Smith Center for the Performing Arts under construction in Las Vegas, Nevada in March 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fans of classical music, dance and theatre shall not have to make weekend trips any more to Los Angeles, Salt Lake City or Philadelphia, or wait for the few shows to land at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, because many companies did not watnt to be connected with the lightcity. “There was lots of people who simply said, ‘I don’t want to play Las Vegas,’ even though they might have been touring from Los Angeles to Denver to Salt Lake City,” said Mr. Martin, who previously worked at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, performing center.

Yes, we can wonder if the carillon is going to bring a new voice for also a new sort of  visitors and for the inhabitants of the region.

It were the people who lived in the region of vulgarity, game and gamble, who wanted to see some other stars than those turning around a pole or dancing nearly naked to bring people on other thoughts, not according decency.

Not pleased to have to go into a casino to go and see a Broadway show, a musical, classical ballet  or classical concert, the spectators of serious theatre works demanded a quality theatre and arts centre.

Ambition

The ambition to create one of the nation’s leading performing art centres led The Smith Center’s design team to visit venues across North America and Europe in 2007, where they studied some of the world’s finest opera houses, concert halls and performance venues. After they toured venues including Palais Garnier in Paris, the Musikverein in Vienna and La Scala in Milan, they came together to design The Smith Center.

The city of Las Vegasprovided land, infrastructure, environmental clean-up, and parking. The city of Las Vegas, Clark County and State Legislature collaborated on a car rental fee that resulted in a bond of $105 million. The City commitment totals $170 million.

An image montage of the Las Vegas Metropolitan...

An image montage of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Area. From Top Left to Bottom Right: Las Vegas Strip City of Las Vegas North Las Vegas Henderson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fred W. Smith, a retired newspaper executive, and his wife, Mary led the private funding campaign with The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. They provided 150 US Dollars, the largest philanthropic donation in state history, and the second largest donation to the performing arts in the United States.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith got heir names connected with the Performing Arts Centre which opened in Las Vegas in March. Jennifer Hudson was on the program and Neil Patrick Harris was the master of ceremonies. On the stage they dared to present classical music to a city whose cultural association is more likely to be Liberace than Liszt.

Dazzlingly Bodies

For more than 25 years, Las Vegas has laid claim to being the entertainment capital of the nation. But it has presented a very specific kind of entertainment — elaborate, mass-market, big-ticket showstoppers like Cirque du Soleil, Elton John, Celine Dion and Siegfried & Roy. And it has been aimed at a very specific audience: tourists who come to the Strip, as opposed to the people who live here.

The naked bodies the centre want to present to the public are also of a totally different nature than at the other leisures attractions. The Smith Center for the Performing Arts will feature monumental outdoor and indoor sculptures, as well as other works of art throughout its 5-acre campus. Available to viewers year-round, the custom commissioned art pieces will provide the community with an extraordinary environment in which to enjoy world-class music, dance and theater, while making Symphony Park and the other outdoor areas remarkable places in which to spend an afternoon or evening.

Nevada Ballet Theatre dancers – photo by Virginia Trudeau

Dancers of a totally different kind shall be able to fill the place of the new home for the Nevada Ballet, the largest professional ballet company and dance Academy in the state. At last the eclectic repertory ballet company, under the artistic direction of James Canfield, got a home to educate and inspire statewide, regional and national audiences and vitally impact community life through professional company productions, dance training and education and outreach, with it bunch of very young dancers.

Repertoire

Photo: Beverley Gallegos

With the pupil of Maracci, Panaieff and Rosselatt, who could rise the public to standing ovation, Cynthia Gregory, who had stopped various times but had to return to enchant the public, the city has made the best choice to pass on her knowledge and experience, her passion and wisdom, for the benefit of future generations. She not only is remembered for her marvelous performances in Nahat’s Brahms Quintet (1970), her unbelievable performance in Ailey’s The River (1971) plus as Raymonda. From 2010 she became Artistic Advisor of the Nevada Ballet Theatre. Her perspective on artistic matters will be invaluable, also because she has not only the movements in her soul and legs but with her hands she equally produces pen-and-ink and watercolor drawings.

Former dance writer and historian Dick Andros once wrote of Gregory: “Some time ago I took class with Cynthia when she was a student. It was easy for me to see the line,  musicality and vulnerability that gave her the special qualities to be a great dancer. I followed her career closely; I watched as she rose through the ranks to principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre. I saw her first New York performances of Giselle and Swan Lake and knew then that she was America’s greatest dancer.”

Miss Gregory is the recipient of many awards, including the 1975 Dance Magazine Award, the 1978 Harkness Ballet Foundation Award, and two annual awards from the Dance Educators of America. She was made a Lion of the New York Public Library and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at both Hofstra University and Purchase College. She has also authored two books, Ballet Is the Best Exercise and Cynthia Gregory Dances Swan Lake.

Photo: Linda Vartoogian

After retiring from ABT in 1991, she became the Chairman of the Board of Career Transition for Dancers, a not-for-profit organization which provides valuable services free of charge to dancers considering new careers. She continues to stage ballets and coach dancers throughout the United States and internationally.

It would be nice if the city shall be able to see some of the classical repertoire she danced in, like Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty, Coppélia, Raymonda, La Bayadère, Don Quixote and La Sylphide, but also the 20th century ballets by Alvin Ailey, George Balanchine, Birgit Culberg, Agnes DeMille, Eliot Feld, Jose Limón, Dennis Nahat, Jerome Robbins, Michael Smuin, Glen Tetley, Antony Tudor and Twyla Tharp.

Ostentatious architectural ambition

Grand Lobby

Grand Lobby (Photo credit: Dennis Wong)

The Grand Lobby is an open, inviting and sophisticated space which will welcome patrons to The Smith Center and will serve as the entrance to Reynolds Hall. The flooring of the Grand Lobby is a custom design and the walls are lined with hand selected marble from Verona, Italy. Carved into the marble in both entrances to the Grand Lobby are the names of the 54 Founders of The Smith Center.

The Reynolds Hall, a 2,050-seat theater, can be found at the heart of The Smith Center. As in other places in Las Vegas, they want to stun. Reynolds Hall has been meticulously designed to provide optimal sightlines and refined acoustics. Here you can see from the stunning balconies a dramatic stage and a full orchestra pit capable of seating up to 100 musicians. They not only want to present Broadway shows but also first-run touring attractions from around the world.

Cabaret Jazz can be found in the Boman Pavilion which also house offices, classrooms and multipurpose rooms. The 258-seat Cabaret Jazz overlooks Symphony Park and is ideal for jazz, cabaret and other performances best seen and heard in an intimate setting. Boman Pavilion’s 250-seat Troesh Studio Theater is ideal for rehearsals, children’s theater, community events and private social gatherings.

Tale of two cities

Smith Center Panorama

Smith Center Panorama (Photo credit: squidpants)

Myron G. Martin, the president of the Smith Center said: “In many ways, we’ve been the tale of two cities: the entertainment capital of the world and the city where people live with their families. I don’t think anyone would dispute that Las Vegas did its best job at taking care of tourists.”

“This is a community that has been on the list of the largest cities in North America without a major league sports team, an academic medical center and a world-class performing arts center,” he said. “We have now checked one of those boxes.”

New Boost

The Smith Center has opened with a diverse calendar that included the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and such Broadway transplants as “Wicked.” Night after night, nearly all of the 2,050 chocolate-colored seats in the five-tier main hall have been filled.

Oscar Goodman, the former mayor and a big booster of the project, said the Smith Center had brought a new era of sophistication for Las Vegas, though, he said, the process had not gone entirely smoothly.

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Find the Smith Center

About Cynthia Gregory

Archival footage of Cynthia Gregory performing Brahms Waltz in 1982 at Jacob’s Pillow Perhaps at this performance she was not in her best mood or in form. This footage does not show how good she could act and how lyrical she could dance. (In a way it dishonours her. But at least it is some screening available on the internet.)

Career Transition For Dancers

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    I came across this new series Bunheads on ABC Family. It’s about a Las Vegas showgirl named Michelle who has been shutting down this man named Hubble every time he asks her out.
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    The performance of the Kalahi Philippine Folkloric Ensemble at the Las Vegas Hotel recently was the highlight of the 40th wedding anniversary of Jim and Leah Patterson of New York.
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    +
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    +
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    Skyjump at the Stratosphere: For our adrenaline junkie Siddhi, this was a must do experience and as we watched our daughter free fall from the 108th floor, others looked at us with some level of horror for letting our daughter do this.The Fountains of Bellagio:  This music, light and water show is staged frequently in the evenings and is a mesmerizing spectacle to behold.  Absolutely beautiful and a great way to end a day in Vegas.
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    The following outlines ten characteristics of Las Vegas that deem it enjoyable to repetitively visit from our perspective. Some are philosophical and some are tangible, while others are somewhere in-between those two descriptors.
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    Captivating aspects of travel include partaking of the local cuisine.  Prior to our journey to the land of Las Vegas, I enlisted the help of a Bellagio Concierge.  Reservations were then made well in advance at Bellagio’s Picasso, Circo, and Todd English’s Olives. While the meals were all memorable, two out of the three proved to be our favorites.
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About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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