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.


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.


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.


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


  • Bunheads Premiere (ireport.cnn.com)
    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.
  • Smith Center aims to put Las Vegas on culture map (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
    Las Vegas had the unwelcome distinction of being the largest city in the nation without a major performing arts center. In 2010, The Daily Beast named it the dumbest of the 55 largest cities in America.
  • Filipinos dance their way home (thelasvegasorientexpress.wordpress.com)
    The glass with a lighted candle inside perched gingerly atop the lovely maiden’s head as she swayed to the beat of the music. Then, in unison with the four other dancers, she dropped to the floor, but kept the graceful dance in perfect harmony.
    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.
  •  On the blog which seeks to chronicle the lives of the growing Asian Ameriucan community in Las Vegas, Nevada with emphasis on their social, business and political activities, a.o.: ‘American Idol’ star goes home  (thelasvegasorientexpress.wordpress.com)
    As part of the American Idol live tour, Sanchez, with nine of the top contestants of Season 11, will perform in the Philippines on Sept. 21, 2012.
  • ‘So You Think You Can Dance’: Top 20 dancers revealed, show their stuff (mercurynews.com)
    After weeks of auditions and the grueling Las Vegas callbacks, the Top 20 dancers for Season 9 of “So You Think You Can Dance” were named Wednesday night. They will start the performance shows after a break for the Fourth of July.
    The next dancers were the classically trained ballet dancers. Eliana Girard was chosen for the Top 20, but then Daniel Baker and Chehon Wespi-Tschopp were sent in together and after letting them think that only one would go forward, both were selected. The three performed a routine that highlighted their individual strengths, but it will be interesting to see how they do with other styles as the season progresses.
  • ‘So You Think You Can Dance’: Atlanta dancers hope to follow last year’s winner (mercurynews.com)
    As host Cat Deeley was quick to remind viewers, Melanie Moore, last year’s winner on “So You Think You Can Dance,” auditioned in Atlanta, Ga., was sent on to Las Vegas and the rest is history. Crowds of hopefuls prepared to dance their hearts out to repeat Moore’s success. After auditioning, dancers were sent directly to Las Vegas for the next step, sent to choreography to see if they could handle it, or sent home.
    Then it was back on the Road to Vegas with Danielle Dominguez, a dancer who loves bacon. After admiring her slim body, Nigel offered that Mary and Debbie might want to go on the bacon diet, a suggestion that turned the auditorium into a deep-freeze with the Arctic looks from the women. After digging himself out of a huge hole and apologizing, Nigel then asked Danielle’s mom, a former cheerleader, to lead a cheer in the aisle. After all this silliness, Danielle danced and, you guessed it, got a ticket to Las Vegas.
  • Las Vegas becomes as much Liszt as Liberace (staradvertiser.com)
  • Rusko: Vegas Residency (jambase.com)
    The Leeds-born DJ and producer who ascended with the original U.K. dubstep movement, Rusko, is launching his first-ever residency at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas every Saturday in August. Starting August 4, Rusko will bring 90 minutes of his signature sound to Rain Nightclub; an electrifying dance club in Palms that envelopes nightclubbers in one energetic and multi-sensory destination.
  • Ivey Confirms High Stakes Games Leaving Las Vegas (pokerlistings.com)
    From Binion’s Horseshoe to The Mirage, Bobby’s Room at Bellagio and even Ivey’s at Aria, Las Vegas has always been home to poker’s biggest games.But with more and more of the nosebleed action moving online and the high-stakes sharks whale hunting Asian businessmen in places like Macau, China, it appears Las Vegas’ days as the home for high-stakes poker may be numbered.
  • Public House in Las Vegas (foodographer.net)
    a relatively new addition to the Venetian. It’s a gastro-pub meaning they serve classy versions of pub food. It definitely had a pub feel to the place, the dim lighting, dark colored furniture.
  • NBA Summer League 2012 Stats: Rookies That Have Impressed in Las Vegas (bleacherreport.com)
    The NBA Summer League finished up in Orlando on July 13 and brought the show to Las Vegas that very same day.
  • Las Vegas Summer League Bullets: Day 5 (espn.go.com)
    Bucksketball’s Jeremy Schmidt likes what he’s seen so far from Milwaukee’s second-round pick, Doron Lamb: “Lamb was aggressive in everything early. He shot when he was open. He cut very hard. He rubbed shoulders on screens and changed speeds quickly. Offensively, he was filling the same role he’ll likely take on in Milwaukee — running off screens…
  • Las Vegas bakes as heat settles on Southwest (bostonherald.com)
  • Exploring the Vegas Tech Scene, Zappos and the Downtown Project (twilio.com)
  • Personalized Auto Insurance Policies for Las Vegas Drivers (news.onlineautoinsurance.com)
  • Las Vegas Summer League: Day 4 Recap (hangtime.blogs.nba.com)
  • Las Vegas wants to build an NHL-ready arena (prohockeytalk.nbcsports.com)
  • Las Vegas Holidays (ebookers.com)
  • County considering Las Vegas Strip litter measure (staradvertiser.com)
    Clark County commissioners are considering a law requiring people giving out handbills and pamphlets on the Las Vegas Strip to clean up the items from sidewalks and storm drains.
  • Who Wore It Better? Mini Frocks at Katy Perry’s Las Vegas Bachelorette Party! (fabsugar.com)
    Rihanna threw girlfriend Katy Perry a crazy cool bachelorette party filled with booze and bikinis! But before the girls stripped down, they each sported a sexy, skintight mini frock for a night with the Cirque du Soleil Ka performers.
  • Le Rêve – Las Vegas, NV (memtolax.com)
    Le Rêve, French for “The Dream“, is my favorite cirque-du-soleil show in Vegas. Breathtaking acrobatics in a one-million gallon pool with theatre-in-the-roundseating.There is little-to-no dialogue and the story line is interpretive. The visuals are astounding. I have seen the show twice and the choreography is slightly changed every 6 months, which allows for repeat attendees.
  • A Las Vegas Getaway (mandibelle16.wordpress.com)
    The sights and sounds of the Las Vegas strip – thousands of people milling about, smoke in the air, the ping ping of the slot machines, a whiff of some chef’s tasty food, the pungent taste of tequila at the bottom of my margarita, a warm hot wind that does not cool you down, the slap of flip flops down the street, a sense of peace sitting by the pool, the rush of euphoria when you see that magic word ‘sale’ at Victoria Secret. These are all sensations I have come to admire for the week I get to spend in Las Vegas every couple years. Sensations by the end of the week I am sick of, but at the beginning and middle I crave. I love Las Vegas despite its tawdry side, there is a kind of excitement in Vegas different from anywhere else.
  • Viva Las Vegas, Part V: O, The Shows! (tangledpasta.net)
    Cirque du Soleil O, Bellagio’s in-house attraction, was astounding.   One’s senses cannot resist O’s ethereal experience.  O is performed primarily in water, with Cirque’s amazing performers’ synchronized swimming, high diving, aerial acrobats artists performing without safety nets.  The effect is spellbinding.
  • Our List of Top Las Vegas Experiences (pauperswithouttravel.com)
    A city whose name conjures up glitter, glamor,gambling, money and more.  The city was never really a must do on my list, just a place I would have liked to visit once to understand why it got so much attention.  In the last few years between work and life I have visited this city multiple times.  And if someone told me I would never visit Vegas again, I would not shed a tear.  But the city certainly gave me a number of memorable experiences that I will cherish forever.
    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.
  • Las Vegas Examiner’s top ten Vegas attributes (examiner.com)
    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.
  • Mothers Day Viva Las Vegas Style (proflowers.com)
    There’s a plethora of brunch options and some less-than-traditional events like tea and tours. Here are some of our favorite picks to ensure your mom has fun and you have a stress-free holiday.
  • Viva Las Vegas, Part IV: Dining in Style (tangledpasta.net)
    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.
  • Best of Las Vegas on a Budget (apartmentguide.com)
    If you’ve been longing to take a Las Vegas vacation, but are worried that you won’t be able to afford it, think again. While it’s true that Vegas is known as a glitzy and glamorous desert paradise, complete with $300 bottle service, world-class spas and resorts, high-stakes Poker games and shopping sprees at high-end designer boutiques like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior and Versace, you can still experience all the luxury and posh-ness of Vegas without breaking the bank. With a little planning ahead and some tightening of the budget, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying Las Vegas on a dime.
  • Steven R. Monroe’s MoniKa to Premiere this Friday in Vegas (dreadcentral.com)
    The Cerina Vincent-starring revenge thriller is slated to have its premiere this Friday, July 20th, at the Las Vegas Film Festival.Co-executive produced by actress Vincent (who appears in the titular role) with Monroe and producers Anthony Fankhauser and Corey A. Jackson, MoniKa stars Jason Wiles and C. Thomas Howell as well as Jeff Branson, Chad Lindberg and Andrew Howard (the three appeared in Monroe’s I Spit on Your Grave redux) and actors Lew Temple (The Devil’s Rejects), Shayla Beesley (Spreading Darkness), Raffaello Degruttola, Elisa Donovan and genre vet Tim Thomerson.
  • “Company” Bursts with Talent (lasvegasperformingarts.wordpress.com)
    A dream team of Las Vegas singers and musicians celebrated the sounds of Sondheim on one of the most venerable stages in town.The one-time home of legends Elvis and Barry Manilow played host to this two-night revival of the 1970s Broadway hit “Company”, a wrenching examination  of marriage and relationships.
  • On Sodom (schrodingerspolitic.wordpress.com)
    First up, we’ve got Sodom and Gomorrah. Terrible places, to be sure. (Genesis 13:13 “Now the Men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD.”)In my NIV Bible, (Genesis 19:5-11, for those following along) it says that there’s a crowd of dudes outside Lot’s house who want to bang angels [1]. Lot says no, the crowd gets angrier, so the angels toss a flashbang and the crowd isn’t a problem, because they’re blind. God then proceeds to nuke the **** out of that whole area. I wouldn’t necessary classify that as an anti-homosexual stance. It seems more like an anti-rape stance. Right?
  • 2012 Vegas Summer League: 20-Point Trio Lead Houston To 99-88 Win (houston.sbnation.com)
  • Why Stumble in Darkness? (wisdomisthekey.wordpress.com)
    There exists among us, the simplest solution to darkness…and that is light.  There is no need to fret and fume and stumble or even curse those areas that cause us grief and uncertainty.
  • “The Next Perfect Storm” Descends Upon Las Vegas (pr.com)
    The enterprising CEO of America’s fastest growing financial services firm will go head-to-head with Santorum to tackle big issues such as the slow-moving but unshakable crisis situations in the world economy, how to leverage the free enterprise system and why America is facing “The Next Perfect Storm” (the title of his new book, debuting July 19).
  • Mushroom Clouds over Las Vegas (iconicphotos.wordpress.com)
    Until very recently, it was not the most accessible place, nor was it the most exclusive of gambling dens; its arid Nevadan weather was unforgiving. Yet it is “Gambling and Entertainment Capital of the World” and every year, near forty million tourists flock to this desert casino town to dole out almost 15 billion dollars. But Las Vegas’ such success was never actually guaranteed; fittingly, no other town in history owed more to luck and coincidences.
  • Blake Griffin Injures Knee, Anthony Davis Called Back To Las Vegas (slamonline.com)
    Blake Griffin, who signed a five-year, $95 million extension earlier this week, twisted his left knee during yesterday’s Team USA scrimmage and is returning to Los Angeles to be examined by team doctors.
  • Wynn Resorts 2Q net income rises, but revenue down (miamiherald.com)
    The effects of the still-shaky economy had already been seen in Las Vegas, where sales had also slipped in the first three months of the year.The Las Vegas-based company earned $138.1 million or $1.37 per share in the second quarter, compared with $122 million, or 97 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier. The second quarter of 2011 was hurt by a $107.5 million charge on the declining value of a charitable contribution.

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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