Dance Direct-to-You

Ballet in Cinema brings the world stage to Las Vegas screens

On Feb. 8, Las Vegans had an opportunity to watch a performance by one of the most famous ballet companies in the world. The conduit wasn’t UNLV’s Artemus Ham Hall, but Rave Motion Pictures at Town Square, which showed the Paris Opera Ballet’s production of Caligula as part of Ballet in Cinema, which broadcasts live performances from prominent ballet companies to movie theaters around the world.

The packed house at the Palais Garnier, projected onto one of Rave’s screens, was a stark contrast to the 10 estimated local patrons of the arts who came out for the 10:30 a.m. showing. The lucky few were treated to an exquisitely choreographed blend of classical ballet, modern dance and French culture.

First performed in 2005, Caligula is dancer Nicolas Le Riche’s first choreographic work. Set to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, the five-act tragedy takes the audience inside the twisted and tortured mind of one of Rome’s most blood-thirsty emperors. Jérémie Belingard, who danced the title role, incorporated facial expressions and pantomime into his performance to show the demise of an ill man who eventually worshiped the moon and his horse, when he wasn’t taking the lives of innocent Roman citizens.

The live video feed was grainy and added to the raw nature of the ballet. Yet the projection captured details, such as the sounds of dancers landing jumps, giving the illusion that you were a part of the performance rather than a spectator on another continent. Furthermore, the ability to zoom in on the dancers’ facial expressions—such as during Belingard’s memorable pas de deux with Lune (Clairemarie Osta)—gave the movie theater audience a personal look that wasn’t available to the audience in Paris.

In that scene, for example, being able to see the strong connection between the dancers revealed a compassionate side of the villain.

Le Riche used symbolism and the language of dance to tackle a difficult subject matter and create an artistic work that transcends cultural boundaries. The beauty and simplicity of Caligula, made it an experience to remember, even if it was separated from Las Vegas audiences by an ocean.

Upcoming Ballet in Cinema Schedule

Bolshoi Ballet, Moscow: Don Quixote 8 a.m. March 6.

Paris Opera Ballet: Coppelia 10:30 a.m. March 28.

All shows are at Rave Town Square 18, $15, 362-7283.