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Dance in the Desert Festival: 3 Questions with Choreographer/Dancer Bernard Gaddis


Dance in the Desert Festival: 3 Questions with Choreographer/Dancer Bernard Gaddis


Dance in the Desert Festival: 3 Questions with Choreographer/Dancer Bernard Gaddis 1

The Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater, a popular company scheduled to perform the weekend of July 29/30 at the College of Southern Nevada’s annual Dance in the Desert Festival, is relatively new to the Las Vegas dance scene. Founded in 2007 by Bernard H. Gaddis and Charmaine Hunter, LVCDT is Las Vegas’ first professional contemporary dance company. Best known for its passionate and relatable repertoire, the company blends classical and modern styles with a high degree of athleticism.

In between the company’s annual festival appearances, touring, and local performances and workshops, LVCDT Founder/Artistic Director participated in The International Association of Blacks in Dance conference, an event founded twenty-three years ago by Joan Myers Brown, founder of the Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco). This year, the event was held in Los Angeles and featured LVCDT, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Philadelphia Dance Company “Philadanco,” Donald McKayle, and Donald Byrd/Spectrum Dance, among others.

In 2014, the event will be held in Bernard Gaddis’ Las Vegas location. We asked him to tell Dance Vine readers more about the event.


Dance Vine: How deep is your involvement with the conference?

Bernard Gaddis: I was a principal dancer at Philadanco for eight years, so as a dancer I have been involved since its inception. The conference has grown, adding more members and participants over time. Each year a different organization presents the annual IABD; the 2011 conference was held in Los Angeles, and the 2012 conference is set for January 26–29, 2012, in Toronto, Canada. I am honored to be the 2014 host in Las Vegas.

In Los Angeles, I participated in The Next Generation of Leaders panel discussion and moderated the Conversation panel for young dancers and choreographers. Additionally, I taught master classes in the Horton technique.


Were you able to choose the work you presented, or did the conference select from your repertoire?

I selected the work I presented and chose my new ballet “Sacrifus” (Latin for sacrifice.) Each of the participating companies chooses its own material. To accommodate all the groups, the performances were scheduled over three evening concerts.


It is clear that the conference has high value for the African-American dance community. What would you say is its importance beyond its target demographic — to the dance audience at large? Are the performances open to the public or are they for the conference attendees only?

The biggest misconception is that the conference is for African-Americans only, but the conference is for everyone. Naturally, it is geared toward celebrating the achievement of African-Americans in dance; however, many different cultures participate. This is important to me, as my own company is composed of diverse culture and races.

I am pleased to say that all performances are open to the public. It’s the one time where you can see over fifteen different companies in one city, and participation keeps growing every year.


Dance in the Desert Festival: 3 Questions with Choreographer/Dancer Bernard Gaddis 2



Dance in the Desert Festival

July 29, 7:00 p.m.
July 30, 2:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m.

College of Southern Nevada, Charleston Campus
Nicholas J. Horn Theatre
3200 E. Cheyenne Avenue, North Las Vegas
For tickets: 702-651-LIVE (5483)

Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater
Holsum Lofts
231 W. Charleston Blvd, Ste. 110–120
Las Vegas, NV 89102

The International Association of Blacks in Dance
January 26–29, 2012, Toronto, Canada


Here is a sample of LVCDT in action:

Former dancer, Geri Jeter, has been editing and writing for over fifteen years, writing on dance, food, music, NASCAR, technical theater, and Italian-American culture. For the past five years, she was the dance critic for the Las Vegas Weekly; in 2007 Nevada Ballet Theatre presented her with the Above and Beyond award. Now living in San Francisco, Geri is excited about covering the entire scope of West Coast dance. You can read more of her dance writing at her blog Dance Blitz ( and follow her Las Vegas and San Francisco restaurant reviews at DishKebab (

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