Back To School Culture Shock LV 082323 dance

Students learning new dance moves taught by professional performers with Cirque du Soleil at Culture Shock Las Vegas (CSLV).

Cirque du Soleil Performers Return to Their Roots through Culture Shock Las Vegas program

Imagine that you are a school-aged student in Las Vegas, a city known for its dazzling performances, who is interested in dance, and you learn that you have the opportunity to take free dance classes taught by professional performers with Cirque du Soleil.

That is exactly what students in Las Vegas experienced in August of 2023 through the community outreach program called ‘Back to School Jam,’ which was created by DEAEF Dance Partner Culture Shock Las Vegas, (CSLV). The event was created to give kids the opportunity to blow off some steam and do something creative right before school starts. During this annual event, students are taught a variety of dance styles in a positive environment while also learning about making good decisions and healthy choices from local role models including professional dancers and performers with Cirque du Soleil. The DEAEF sponsored the dance instructors for the ‘Back to School Jam’ as a continuation of the year-round DEA Youth Dance Program where kids take free dance classes after school in partnership with CSLV.

Among the event's esteemed instructors were Jennaia Roussel and Trevontae Leggins, two dynamic performers from the renowned Cirque du Soleil. Jennaia's graceful movements and Trevontae's awe-inspiring energy brought the studio to life as they shared their passion for dance and active lifestyles. Little did the students know that these mesmerizing artists were once in their shoes, having grown through CSLV's community outreach programs themselves.

“It is an exciting full-circle moment when our former students who have become professional performers return to teach the younger generation through the same programs where they received their own training. They want to give back and can relate to the kids about how difficult it can be to make good choices and lead healthy lives. They are incredible role models for these kids, and it’s rewarding to see their personal and professional success. They don’t forget where they got started when they were teenagers, and they love teaching the kids!”

Vangie Bisquera, Director of Culture Shock Las Vegas (CSLV)
Back To School Culture Shock LV

During the week-long event, classes were held at CSLV studio and were open to any student from the area. Students took classes in hip hop, break dancing, acro, contemporary, and popping. Classes ranged from beginner to intermediate and advanced to accommodate a variety of skill levels and continue to push students to their next level as dancers and performers. Jennaia and Trevontae shared how their love for dance transcended the studio walls, empowering them to make good choices and lead healthy lives. The students hung on to every word, realizing that dance was more than just physical movement; it was a path to personal growth and empowerment.

The impact of the 'Back to School Jam' did not end with the week-long event. Students who participated in the event and expressed interest in joining a dance troupe with CSLV were encouraged to attend a troupe audition for placement. In addition, the DEAEF Youth Dance Program in Las Vegas will begin in the fall where dancers from CSLV will teach free dance classes to students after school for ten weeks. This program was established to empower kids by providing a free and positive afterschool alternative to drugs through the fun, healthy, and expressive art form of dance.

The 'Back to School Jam' in Las Vegas proved to be a transformative experience for young aspiring dancers, thanks to the support of Cirque du Soleil performers Jennaia Roussel and Trevontae Leggins, who returned to their roots to give back to the community that supported their own journey. Through this event and the year-round DEA Youth Dance Program, school-aged students continue to be inspired by role models to make healthy choices and lead drug-free lives. As these Las Vegas students and budding young dancers embark on their dance journey, they do so with the guidance and inspiration of remarkable role models who once stood in their shoes.

by Meredith Liepelt

Updated Oct 5, 2023

YDP, Partnerships