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December 19, 2014

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Cirque-hopefuls tested in auditions

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Heather Cory

Jermaine Tregle, a Las Vegas resident, performs a hip-hop dance as he auditions for Cirque du Soleil at Red Rock Center for Dance.

Cirque du Soleil auditions

Applicants work on a dance routine as they try out for Cirque du Soleil at Red Rock Center for Dance. Launch slideshow »

In a studio full of fellow dancers, LJ Jellison had more on his mind than just keeping the rhythm as he counted out the exaggerated movements to the beat of The Beatles' "Come Together."

"When I'm out there, I'm trying to find a way to make it look unlike what everyone else is doing," he said.

During auditions for Cirque du Soleil, in which a subgroup of about 35 hopefuls demonstrated their skills by performing a dance from Cirque's Fab-Four-themed production "Love," getting down the moves wasn't the toughest part.

"When you get to this level, everyone can do the steps. That's not the problem. The problem is how can you stand out from the crowd," Jellison said.

The North Las Vegas resident was among the 382 dancers who went to auditions held at the Rock Center for Dance in Silverado Feb. 7-10 in hopes of being selected as a potential cast member for a Cirque du Soleil production.

For Monica Horowitz, an instructor at the center, the recent auditions were her third attempt at breaking into the ranks of the Cirque cast.

Her first two tries didn't work out so well, but this time she said it was euphoric as something just clicked. Horowitz was one of the 70 people who made it through the auditions.

She will now be added to a database of dancers from all over the world who are potential new cast members for Cirque du Soleil's numerous productions.

The next step for those potentials is waiting, said Cirque Du Soleil Artistic Specialist and Advisor Giulio Scatola.

When roles become available, he said, those in charge of casting will search the database for the dancers who fit the role. The artistic director who oversees a given production then makes the final call.

It may take a couple of months or a couple of years to get a callback, he said.

Artistic Director of "Love," Kati Renaud, said those selected are chosen "Because they have the right style and the right feel and energy and potentially the right look."

She said other traits she looks for are personality, technique, charisma and musicality.

Scatola said an ability to convincingly portray a character is also important.

Versatility is another key trait.

"Believe" cast member Bruce Weber, who went through the audition process about a year and a half ago, said all kinds of different types of dance are used in his performance.

"You just have to be musically proficient," he said. "You never know what they're going to ask you to do."

While Horowitz waits for her chance at the stage, she said she's going to work on making her skill set as varied as possible by getting trained in aerial work and gymnastics. She said she plans to check in often with the casting directors.

"I would be grateful for whatever contract cirque would give me," she said. "If they wanted me to fly to the moon, I'd fly to the moon."

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