Peter Kalivas, the spunky dancer and choreographer CityBeat profiled a few months ago, can now add teaching dance classes to Cirque du Soleil performers to his already extensive resume.
Kalivas, the artistic director/choreographer of San Diego's PGK Project, a contemporary dance company, will now be teaching master classes for the dance artists in Cirque du Soleil shows throughout Las Vegas. The master classes are extensive lessons in which Kalivas will teach contemporary dance technique with an emphasis on safely performing repeated strenuous movements.---
“I've got a lot of experience with [performing over long periods] because I've danced a very long time,” Kalivas said. “When you do shows six or seven times a week, it's all about being clear and efficient. You can't be wasteful, and you can't be lazy.”
Kalivas was initially invited to teach a one-time training session for about 40 Las Vegas artists. Participants included dancers, acrobats, aerialists and gymnasts. While instructing, he meticulously critiqued the performers' form while teaching them how to decrease their likelihood of injury. Kalivas caught the eye of Cirque's head physical therapist, who realized the value of the lesson. Kalivas will now return several weekends a year to continue giving master lessons to the Cirque artists.
While age 10 is usually considered starting late in the dance world, Kalivas was more than a late bloomer. He took his first formal dance class as an elective in college, where he was noticed by Wendy Perron, a master teacher and current Editor-in-chief of Dance Magazine . Perron encouraged Kalivas to leave his architecture major and pursue a career in dance, if that was what he wanted to do.
“Because I started dancing so late, I kind of have an advantage when I'm teaching,” Kalivas said. “I was 19 or 20 learning ballet, so my teachers really explained very clearly and very definitively how to do everything, what muscles were working, the posture and the placement. So that's how I teach.”
Twenty-five years later, Kalivas has instructed and performed around the world. And while the opportunity to instruct world-class Cirque du Soleil artists may seem prestigious and worthy of boasting, Kalivas remains surprisingly modest about the affair. Instead, he focuses most of his thought, choreography and career goals around one central feature—the audience.
“I question [performers], ‘What are you trying to say? How are you going to convey that to an audience? And is this work for an audience, or is it just for yourself?” Kalivas said. ““I'm trying to challenge them the same way I try to challenge myself.”
Cirque Du Soleil will be performing a battle scene from their “KA” production, currently playing at the MGM Grand, live at PETCO Park at sundown this Thursday July 21.