Big-hearted ballet and half-forgotten art


Giselle by Nevada Ballet Theatre
Jeff Speer

A scene from Nevada Ballet Theatre's production of Giselle

Ballet at The Smith Center

Giselle, Giselle, Giselle. I’ve never had a girlfriend take back a cheating lover in real life, so I didn’t know how to react when, in ballet land, you forgave that cad Albrecht. I mean, yeah, he was a damn good dancer and looked great in tights and all, but once you found out he was two-timing you with the overdressed princess (velvet for hunting? C’mon…), why didn’t you just move on? The hunky woodsman with the beard was dying for whirl around the — ahem — town square. But no, it was Albrecht or nothing. Okay, so you die of a broken heart … and win your audition for the hauntiest act in the woods: the Wilis! Talk about lemons into lemonade. Who wouldn’t kill to spend the afterlife romping around the forest with a flock of jilted maiden ghosts, nothing to do but troll for victims of their creepy revenge death dance? And how perfect that Albrecht should be their next partner. That’s what I was thinking, when I saw you place yourself between him and them, as Act II climaxed at the Smith Center last Sunday afternoon. But then, ballerina Alissa Dale played you with the perfect balance of grief and grace, and Stephan Azulay slowly evolved Albrecht’s grin from smug to sorry to scared out of his wits. And you had me. It’s not that “love conquers all,” as the ballet’s tagline declares; it’s that when we bitches band together, there’s nothing we can’t do. Including forgive. Heidi Kyser

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Art at the Rio

I’m a dance grandpa, but that’s not what this is about. I bring it up because my granddaughter’s dance competition explains why I was wandering the Rio’s convention facility a couple of weeks ago, killing time (lots of time gets killed at a dance competition, let me tell ya). In a hallway I saw a framed seascape hung on the wall. Looks familiar, I thought. And, on closer inspection, it was. It was painted by local artist Jose Bellver, a dozen or so stylistic changes ago, back when he created intricate underwater … hey, those photos across the hall, of the moody palm trees and the apparently flaming showgirl, they look familiar, too. And again they were, unmistakably the work of local artist Charles Morgan. *Light bulb flickers on* Until then, I’d forgotten about the Rio’s fine art collection. But there it is; you can bop those hallways enjoying the pieces by a who’s who of local artists — I say it again: local artists — aggressively collected by the Rio, back in some fabled long-ago when corner-office wisdom allowed for the possibility that sophisticated art could enhance the casino experience. (Moment of silence for the Guggenheim-Hermitage.) If those days are mostly over, at least this art remains, a pleasant and joyful surprise in a place you don’t expect it. Just don’t trip over the little girls in tutus. Scott Dickensheets