Ever wonder why so many dancers are flocking to Las Vegas to find work? Us, too. To find out what really happens in Vegas, we asked super-skilled brothers Kevin and Marcel Wilson, who’ve lent their dance and choreography talents to artists all along the Strip, including Cher, Wayne Brady, and Donny and Marie Osmond. Here, the Wilsons share how you can hit the career jackpot in the land of casinos and bright lights.
Vegas is a city built on entertainment, which translates to tons of opportunities for dancers. Stage shows run the gamut from burlesque to circus-style to dazzling large-scale productions featuring some of music’s biggest stars. Many dance jobs are also created by the steady stream of industrials, conventions and corporate events.
Can you say stability?
“Shows run for a very long time, which is one of the beautiful things about Las Vegas,” Kevin says. Dancers can work for several years on the same show, with one to three runs almost daily. If working with a casino-based show, many dancers can also get health insurance and other perks as a casino employee.
Can you sing? Great! Try out for one of the many musical theater productions around town. Do aerial tricks? Cirque du Soleil currently has seven different shows running at various casinos. Insanely flexible? Get a gig as a contortionist. “Stilt walkers, fire blowers, aerial acts—there’s a lot of specialty work in Las Vegas,” Kevin says.
You don’t need an agent.
In some cities, landing auditions can feel like cracking Fort Knox unless you have an agent. Not so in Vegas: Auditions are often advertised in local papers and many dancers are unagented.
Your dollars will go further.
Unlike NYC or L.A., where buying a place is often out of the question, Las Vegas is a city where lots of dancers get the chance to feel settled and invest in property. “Vegas is expanding so much that there are tons of new homes and subdivisions,” Kevin says. “Dancers are able to save up and buy nice-sized homes.” Proof? The median sales price for a Las Vegas home is $115,200, whereas in L.A. it’s $299,500 and in NYC it’s $1,080,000.
You get to learn with the masters—for free.
Since few Vegas dance studios offer classes designed for professionals, shows will bring in big-name choreographers from all over the world to teach. “It helps the dancers keep growing as performers and entertainers,” says Marcel, who once assisted Jeri Slaughter during a master class for Celine Dion’s dancers.
It’s a great place to start your dance career.
“People come here to get their start onstage and to learn what it’s like to be a professional dancer,” Kevin says. “After they have that under their belts, they can take that knowledge and move to L.A.” Whether you’re headed for Hollywood or Broadway, Vegas is a solid place to kick off your career!
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
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