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Crazy Horse Paris

by Jennifer Wesnousky
February 12, 2007
MGM Grand
3799 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 891-7777
Playing at the MGM Grand Resort and Casino, Crazy Horse Paris immediately became much more than just another Las Vegas topless review. Despite constant near nudity, the audience could easily forget the supposed erotic component of a show which ceased to be so in the face of its artistic beauty. While its misleading namesake came from the original Crazy Horse nightclub in Paris, France, the show's former title, Le Femme, did the production much more justice. This highly entertaining performance truly celebrated the female form through its breathtakingly beautiful cast, high-quality dancing and choreography, film clips and spectacular lighting.

The dark, saloon-like venue featured family style, collective seating and a small, rectangular stage with shimmering purple curtains, which, not much taller than the twelve performers themselves, made them appear even more doll-like. Each raving beauty was more breathtaking than the next with their porcelain skin, athletic yet feminine and seemingly all-natural figures and features straight out of animated Disney films.

The performance's opener featured the twelve topless cast members clad in skimpy bottoms and soldiers' gear, marching, pivoting and stomping sharply in a row, in sync with the music's sharp clanging. Gone was any expected bumping and grinding in favor of endless extensions, lines and fine isolations from an ensemble with numerous years of jazz and ballet experience. Although each of the production's chorus pieces was tightly choreographed, each dazzling dancer also took a solo turn, representing the qualities of some zodiac sign before embarking on her own, expressive journey. A performance highlight was a neo-tango number in which one girl performed a jazzy, tango-inspired piece with charisma, skill and off-the-charts confidence.

From a production standpoint, Crazy Horse Paris employed incredible lighting effects. In lieu of clothing, brightly colored geometric shapes were projected onto the girls' bare flesh, making them appear like paintings in motion. Lights which faded, only to reappear on various areas of the stage made their figures appear and vanish alternately. In one group number in which all of the girls wore brightly-colored, bobbed wigs, lights in similar hues were cast onto their serpentine bodies, truly creating the "living picture" that Crazy Horse's creator, Alain Bernardin, intended.

Staging Crazy Horse's first performance in 1951, the program explained this French antique dealer/amateur artist's intention to experiment with combining "l'art du nu," or the "art of the nude" female form and his notions of the stereotypical saloons from American Western movies. And, judging from the makeup of the audience at Crazy Horse Paris on February 12, 2007, consisting primarily of couples of all ages, Bernardin's dream of creating a burlesque production accessible to wide audiences has become a reality. There is something truly captivating about this unapologetic celebration of the female figure and its inherent art, and, it is easy to understand how the Crazy Horse tradition has lasted since its 1951 inception and continues to evolve today, even following the death of its creator.

While any production including nudity might be construed as offensive under other circumstances, one could easily lose oneself in Crazy Horse Paris' movement quality, original, electronic-sounding soundtrack and stunningly surreal visual effects. After all, bodies have always been the tools of trained dancers, and these ones, all of whom performed with the original Crazy Horse cast at the popular Paris nightspot, displayed them un-self-consciously. However, rather than putting them on an increasingly inaccessible pedestal, the girl's extreme skill and confidence felt like glorious inspiration.
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