May 152012

The origins of Ballet can be traced back to the Itallian Renaissance courts of the 15th and 16th centuries.  However, Louisville Ballet, which was founded in 1952 has make its own leaps and bounds in keeping thiselegant form of dance alive in our fair city.  The Louisville Ballet is the only regional company that the renowned Mikhail Baryshnikov has performed in repertoire productions during the 1978-79 and 1979-80 seasons.

On April 13th, the Louisville Ballet celebrated its 60th anniversary by putting on an earth shattering performance that added another page to the history books.  The dancers performed a mixture of both traditional and new styles with some performances combining Japanese and African techniques. The costume designs were sleek with just the right amount of sparkle to glimmer under the lights. This show combined all the necessary elements to define elegance, like a group of swans dancing on a lake under the moonlight.

Louisville native, Wendy Whelan returned from New York just to perform during the Ballet’s Diamond celebration. Her performance in The New York City Ballet’s “After the Rain” was in 2005, but it carved her spot in their dance company exquisitely in marble.  Wendy brought this graceful dance home to Louisville, accompanied by another NYCB member, Craig Hall.

Whelan and Hall were as one during the performance of this magical dance. Their movements were a combination of grace and fluidity. At times they were like intricate paper dolls swaying as if touched by a gentle breeze.  Whelan and Hall entranced the crowd with their intimate dance. The end of their performance brought the audience to their feet, filling the Brown Theater with thundering applause.

The Anniversary program also introduced two new pieces during their Diamond celebration; The ballet mistress, Mikelle Bruzina “Sansei”  with music performed by Ben Sollee and Adam Hougland’s “Unyielding Radiance.”

‘Sansei’ was an interesting piece as it told the story of a grandmother, mother and granddaughter celebrating life in a large family, ending with the climactic death of the eldest. The influence of Japanese traditional music and dance was subtle, yet obvious in this piece. Erica De La O portrayed the grandmother with a soothing, yet powerful display of energy. In the end, her body was gracefully lifted into the air to give the impression of beginning a journey into the afterlife.

Then end all of the evening was a grand performance that once again, brought the crowd out of their seats. The music of Bach combined with West African music brought a festive display that enraptured the crowd during Val Caniparoli’s “Lambarena.”  This performance combined a fusion of ancient African dance with the spiritualized movement of traditional ballet on the stage.  The Brown was filled with positive energy as the dancers erupted on the stage and kept viewers captivated till end.

Diamonds are indeed forever, and Louisville Ballet’s 60th Anniversary was a celebration of dance that will be inscribed in the memories of all who witnessed it for many years to come.

Upcoming events;
Desert Rose: An Arabic Showcase @ Zazoos

Saturday May 26th at 9pm

This will be an evening filled with Middle Eastern music and entertainment with the following performers;

Interactive bellydance with Raqia & Fairoza. Mousa Alradwan Jr (oud, drums), Mousa AL Taub (oud), keyboards with Mohammad Alabede with Artwork by Aadil Alqasem & Hadeel Yasser.
Tutu Revue Presents: “Things That Go BUMP In The Night”

Friday August 3rd at 9:30 pm at the Rudyard

Sassafras Dance Company’s newly added Tutu Revue Burlesque Show. The event will include the renowned resident performers as well as newly added Beginners Burlesque Class students. As always, the costumes are sure to be incredible, along with the choreography. This is a FREE event, so come out and enjoy the entertainment as the ladies perform for your viewing pleasure.





Apr 162012

It’s not just flowers in bloom this April, but also plenty of talant is bursting out for all to see. Spring is here and it has brought some wonderful entertainment to the area, but also said goodbye to one of Louisville’s most graceful Flamenco performers.

Camino Flamenco reluctantly bid adieu to Christina Smith. They held a wonderful dance party to see her off on April 14th at their studio located at 962 Baxter. I had the honor of witnessing her performance at the Mosaico Andalus show last month, and it was absolutely fabulous. Louisville has lost an incredibly talented Flamenco dancer, and California has just gained one.

On the upside, Flamenco Talk once again brought a renowned Flamenco performer to Louisville from April 6th through the 13th, however this time; it wasn’t just to awe us with amazing dance, but also to teach. Antonio Hidalgo, from Cordoba, Spain did a week long workshop instructing both beginner and intermediate Flamenco dance at the Clifton Center. Maestro Hidalgo has performed in Spain, Europe, Japan, USA and South America and was a part of the Bienal de Flamenco de Sevilla in 2006.
Antonio received the 2007 Premio Andaluz award for artistic achievement and this is obvious when seeing the performance of Cuerpo
Y Alma.  This was a delightful bonus in addition to the classes. Cayito Champion and Vincente Greigo were guest singers during the show. The show focused on the traditional dance that has been practiced for centuries by the Andalusian Gypsies, so seeing it outside of Spain is a true delight for those that love authentic dance.

I’ll be posting about upcoming shows from here on out just to keep dance fan’s updated on whats available. There are a few shows coming later this month that you should definitely try to attend if you are free;

On April 27th, The Bards Town AT 1801 Bardstown Rd will play host to Sassafras Dance’s Tutu Review’s debut performance. April Flowers is known for her wonderful charitable events, choreography, costumes, unique performances and skilled dancers. This is her new burlesque troop, so it is sure to be a good show. The festivities start at 9:30pm and will be part of the Bard’s Town ’12 Days of Derby’ festival.

The Crescent Moon Dance Company is having a show on April 29th at 4801 Progress Blvd. The star performer is Faten, who was born in Egypt and dedicated her life to performing traditional dance. She has studied, taught and performed a variety of Middle Eastern dance across the world.

Faten studied and became at one with Flamenco in Seville and Madrid.  She has worked with Yousry Sharif, Mahmoud Reda and Bobby Ferah. This talented performer has traveled the world and currently both performs and teaches Middle Eastern and Flamenco dance at Garfield
Park Fine Arts Center in Indianapolis, Indiana. This is sure to be an entertaining show that will emphasize the grace, flow and powerful passions behind these authentic dances.


Mar 182012

Thunder roared while lightening crashed Saturday March 17th, but Mother Nature’s wrath didn’t hold a candle to the furious performance going on inside the Bomhard Theater. The props were simple with a back drop screen that alternated colors for each set, a wooden table and 3 wooden chairs, but believe me, they didn’t need anything else. The stage exploded into life during Mosaico Andalus. This emotional performance breathed new life into tradition by combining both ancient and modern versions Flamenco. The end result was a powerful form of Flamenco that surpassed the age old art while capturing its very essence.

The performers kept the audience captivated during the entire show, and even the children were mesmerized. Many times during the performance crowd members cheered and shouted Ole’ as they followed the mood set by the musicians, singers and dancers. There are few
shows that receive standing ovations, but Mosaico Andalus received three, twice during and an extended standing ovation at the end of the performance. FlamencoTalk truly gave Flamenco lovers everywhere something to talk about with Mosaico Andalus.

Antonio Granjero was guest choreographer, co-producer and also performed during Mosaico Andalus. His performance was nothing short of amazing. One of the three standing ovations came immediately following his Solea’’. Antonio’s feet struck the stage quicker than lightning
strikes providing a complimenting tempo to the flow of the guitar. His charismatic persona and dramatic gestures moved the crowd to cheers, awes and laughter. The large stage seemed too small to contain his powerful presence.  Granjero has international renown and has performed in Italy, France, Japan, Israel, and Switzerland.  Queen Elizabeth II has even enjoyed seeing Antonio’s Flamenco shows in England.

There is so much to say about the dancers I could write an article on them alone. During their first set, these ladies wore elegant blue gowns and carried white fans. The company of dancers was Mariya Tarakanova (FlamencoTalk, Louisville), Juliana Bravo (Camino
Flamenco, Louisville
), Kristen Mercker(Camino Flamenco, Louisville), Brenna O’Hara (Camino Flamenco, Louisville) and Christina Smith (Camino Flamenco, Louisville), The perfection of their well-choreographed steps replaced the need for any drum as they spiraled across the stage. The fans would snap open and close with a crisp sound to emphasize a dramatic climax in the music. Alegria’, Fandangos, Malaguenas, Abandolaos and Buler’ias were all performed by the ladies as a group. Each set they would don a different costume, gracing the stage in reds, plums, and one somewhat Victorian style striped Flamenco dress. The ending act brought an array of colorful dresses and styles as each dancer
wore something unique.

For Siguirillas, the theater went dark, and a light streamed across the stage giving the impression of a door opening in a pitch black room. A shadow appeared, and then Mariya Tarakanova flowed across the stage in a black satin dress to the edge of the feigned doorway. The theater might have caught fire at that moment and no one would have noticed because all eyes were on Mariya. When the music slowed, her arms and hands slowly rose and fell, her fingers twirled as if playing with the notes themselves. When the music intensified, her body would whip gracefully, melding into the music.

The Tientos –Tangos was performed by Mariya Tarakanova and Antonio Granjero. These two incredibly talented dancers defined the name duet. Every move was in unison. Each step they took rang out against the floor as if they’d shared the same foot when they took it. Mariya’s soft and feminine gestures were complimented by Antonio’s masculine, but no less graceful movements.

The soul filled sounds of Flamenco guitar were provided by Brent Del Bianco. It would be hard to imagine any other guitarist playing Mosaico Andalus after seeing the mystical connection he made with the dancers and singers on the stage. During almost the entire show Brent’s fingers lovingly caressed the strings of his guitar filling the theater with melodies. Del Bianco’s guitar would softly cry to the audience, then burst
into a melodic array so filled with intensity one would thing his strings might catch fire from the friction.

Roberto Lorente, from Madrid, Spain and Jose’ Cort’es Fernand’ez, from France both sang to tell the stories as the dancers moved to the music. Both of these singers relayed the emotional tales with strong vocals that enveloped the listeners. The raw emotion they portrayed with gestures and vocal fluctuations left no question as to the passion they felt.

This was one of the most amazing performances I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing. This collaboration of musicians, dancers and singers not only performed well together, but the passion they shared for their art was visible to all who were there. Each performer was in tune with the music.  Their facial expressions and gestures clearly exhibited the love they share for Flamenco.  I would recommend Flamenco lovers everywhere to watch one of their performances if you ever get an opportunity. Personally, I can’t wait to attend the next FlamencoTalk’s event.


Feb 142012

It is not uncommon for men… and some women to desire and appreciate the company of a Vixen, especially for a Valentines celebration. Va Va Vixens are one of Louisville’s Burlesque entertainment groups, and they are literally making headlines at Headliners.

On February 4th, Headliners had a sold out show with lookers on enjoying an entire evening of nothing but Vixens during the opening night of Va Va Valentine. This was the first of a series of shows that Headliners be hosting, starring the Va Va Vixens. These performers combine
traditional Burlesque, with some outrageously entertaining twists.

Now when you think Burlesque, some people picture the movie that Cher starred in a few years ago. Va Va Vixens Burlesque takes the traditional form, then mixes things up a bit with a touch of Vaudeville and a circus style that you won’t soon forget. There is glitter, glam, good music, and sex appeal all combined into an evening of hypnotic entertainment that is sure to make you want to come back again.

One of the Vixens walks around on stilts, welcoming viewers and sprinkling them with glitter. She is much like a fey that you’d expect to give you a light dusting of fairy dust. Now, some of the guys may not appreciate the sparkle they get, but they’ll definitely enjoy the view of the well balanced lady that is going to have them shaking that glitter out of their clothes for a few days.

The show started out with the Vixens performing classic hits by renowned artists like Etta James, truly setting the mood for the night. The evening became more intense when the aerial artists took the stage including Eva Destruction. Seeing a Vixen wrapped in silks, dangling gracefully above the crowd got everyone’s attention. Kenya Kissme is an amazing knife twirler that brings back memories of carnival jugglers while adding a ‘hint’ of danger and providing more sex appeal. Veruca Vulcano debuted playing a lyra while dangling from a hoop like an exotic bird without the gilded cage.

The enticing Lady Chameleon did a somewhat witchy and ritualistic performance in a hooded cape, but she was not along on the stage. She soothes the serpent during her act, as her pet snake was her partner during her time on the stage. She also had an entourage of belly dancers twirling and dancing around her truly providing completion to her exotic performance.

Brooke and Shawn Slone add a touch of Vaudeville to the show running around in pajamas for a bit of comedic relief. However, they go into a dream sequence that brings the Vixens out as they role-play inner fantasies with steamy scenes.

Lisa Frye is the coordinator for the Vixens. Props should definitely go out to her for all the hard work she is putting into organizing these unbelievable performances. It takes a lot of effort to find all those amazing costumes, find just the right music and coordinate all the performers. Lisa knows how to put together an evening that will keep the crowd enticed and entertained for hours without having one dull moment.

If you missed the performance on February 4th, you can still catch the Vixens at Headliners. They will have encore shows on Fridays and Saturdays up to February 18th.  You can get tickets in advance for $20. Front row tables and VIP seating are available for $30 each. This is a show that is interactive, entertaining and combines just the right amount of sexy and classy. You won’t want to miss an opportunity to experience this unique form of Burlesque.

Jan 172012

I’d like to give props to all those that started out 2012 on a positive note.  April Thomas, Co-Owner/Co-Founder of Sassafras Dance Company, did indeed start the year with something productive and heartfelt.

The Sassafras Dance Company has 2 unique dance troupes that perform in the Louisville area. ThePink Ladies Movement, which dances for breast cancer awareness and the Tutu Revue, which is a Burlesque Troupe. Both troupes have talented dancers that not only entertain, but sometimes do so for nothing more than smiles, applause and giving money to a worthy cause.

The Pink Ladies held their first event of the New Year on Friday the 13th at the Rudyard Kipling with proceeds being donated for Breast Cancer
awareness.  Friday the 13th,does not always bring ill luck or misfortune, as these wonderful dancers raised $150 for a good cause. Some may say that isn’t very much, but reality is, every penny these talented ladies make for Cancer awareness helps someone.

The dancers and entertainers spent many an hour rehearsing and networking to put together this event. All their shows are themed, and the Rudyard event was dubbed Bringing Back the 80’s and the 90’s.The performers danced their hearts out to songs like MC Hammers ‘You Can’t Touch This’ and Princes ‘When Doves Cry’.

April had a nice turn out for performers including; The Pink Ladies Movement, Seraphina, (a renound local sword and belly dancer) Rya Baila, (a regional Belly Dancer) Babs Fatale, (an amazing aerial artist) The Sevanti Tribal Dance Collective, (Blue Rose Studio, Belly Dancers from Brandenburg) The infamous drag queens Miss Christy Davenport and Miss Cadillac Seville (these ladies really put the GLAM in glamour) and last but definitely not least, Rhonda Miller, (Owner of Hoopadelia Hoops and Hoop Dancer). If you’ve never seen anyone dance with hoops…you will be awed by control and fluid movements.

Over all, this was an amazing show with truly graceful and talented performers. These ladies put an unbelievable amount of energy and soul into their show. Even the costumes were works of art that complimented each dancer’s performance.

The Pink Ladies next event will be at 8pm on February 21st. The Bard’s Town, located at 1801 Bardstown Rd will be hosting this event. If you’d like to help with breast Cancer awareness, be sure to come and watch these ladies dance their hearts out.

If you’d like a preview, please check out the link below.

Pink Ladies, Dance for a Cure

Dec 232011

Tis the season…. And as a new columnist to LMN, I’d like to wish all you readers a happy holiday and pleasant journey into the New Year. May your festivities be filled with joy, and the hangovers be mild. Oh, and don’t drink and drive if you can help it. The possibility of starting the year 2012 with a DUI does not make for a cheerful beginning.

In the spirit of the season, I’d like to bestow a little recognition to Rachel Reich, of Raqia Belly Dance/The Studio, in New Albany, IN.

Rachel is a professional belly dancer who has been recognized and awarded by Louisville Magazine for her grace and talent. Now she deserves some props for her heart felt efforts to help some needy children during the holiday season.

Rachel initiated a benefit show in 2009 called Raq’n Around the Christmas Tree. Her kind gesture has now become an annual event which provides less fortunate children with gifts at Christmas. This year marked Rachel’s third show. The Grand, located at 138 E. Market St. in New Albany, Indiana hosted the benefit performance on December 1st.

Raq’n Around the Christmas Tree ended up having 180 generous guests in attendance. There were 623 toys donated, which will benefit Aids Interfaith Ministries of Kentuckiana. All those toys will light up the faces of quite a few children on Christmas day.

Rachel was not alone in her anonymous effort to spread some good cheer for the holiday season. Her merry band of Santa’s helpers included performances by Al Hamsa, Gypsies of the Nile, Il Troubadore, Classical Choice, DJ Jack, Music on the Move Entertainment Services and Raqia’s Stars. All these entertainers willingly donated their time and talent without asking for anything in return.

Ironically, the children who benefit from the generosity of those that donated time and toys will be thinking of a jolly fat man in a red suit as their benefactor. In reality, their secret Santa’s were a group of graceful belly dancers, who twirled their hearts out just to make them smile.

It would be nice to see more incredible acts of compassion such as this taking the headlines away from shoppers using pepper spray during frenzied holiday shopping sprees.

If you’d like to see some of the amazing images from this event, you can do so by copying this link.!/media/set/?set=a.2722256143062.139846.1456836955&type=1