Meet Kim LaRue producer/creator of Kimberly LaRue’s FOLLIES LA ROUGE! at Act2 PV. You have a dance studio in Manhattan, NY and also work in the professional division of Alvin Ailey Dance. Tell us how you got started in dancing and choreography and what professional training you have?
I’ve studied and worked in New York City for the majority of my life—Broadway Dance Center, Steps on Broadway, Dance Theater of Harlem, 92nd St./Harkness Dance, Joffrey School, NYC School for the Performing Arts, AMDA, Strasberg Theater School, New School/Actors Studio, Columbia University/ Creative Arts Laboratory. For the past twenty four years, I have been on the esteemed professional division faculty of Alvin Ailey. I also founded the Bridge for Dance on the Upper Westside of Manhattan and now
serve as artistic director.
In Vallarta, the fabulous PVFLASH MOB was one of the first projects I was involved with and it was so much fun. We had hundreds of people dancing on the malecon with the whales breaching and playing in the bay—-there were tourists, expats and so many local residents of Vallarta. To this day, I still have people stop me on the street and say that they felt such a great sense of community, pride and joy while they were learning the
movement and dancing. That makes me feel happy because isn’t that what life is all about?
How did you get involved with Act 2?
I was asked to choreograph A Chorus Line. It was the very first show at Act 2 and we were rehearsing everywhere in town because the theater was still under construction. We even rehearsed on the roof, where there is now a beautiful open-air rooftop cabaret. It would be interesting to have a revival of the show with the amazing pool of talent that has developed over the past few years.
Last year you totally produced and developed Kimberly LaRue FOLLIES LA ROUGE at Act 2 Entertainment. This year’s show features Steven Retchless, Marc Lopez, and Hal Bonta. Tell us what went into the concept and the choreography behind it?
I watched so many old Hollywood movie musicals as a child and the really BIG shows with the glorious showgirls, extravagant costumes, grand sets——Busby Berkley and Florence Zeigfeld always captured my imagination. I also spent some time in Paris as a young dancer and was captivated by the spectacular shows of the Moulin Rouge and Folies Bergere. Fast forward to last year pre-pandemic, I had taken a business partner, Joamer Gonzalez, to run my studio in NYC, so that my life partner and I could spend more time at our home here in PV. I decided that in this new chapter of my life, I could create something really fun and entertaining for audiences —as well as for myself. It is my desire to develop this show as a yearly offering that would be constantly changing in terms of singers and artists and always adding a little something new in terms of choreography. I’m working now on ideas for Follies next season(and hopefully things will be better with Covid-19)—I think it will have a tropical theme—Follies CALLIENTE!
What can audiences expect to see at this year’s show?
As GENTE PV said, “Kimberly LaRue’s FOLLIES LA ROUGE! simplemente spectacular!” I would say that the show is very entertaining, my cast is great, the costumes are really beautiful, the show moves quickly and there is something for everybody to enjoy—- Follies is a little bit Broadway, a splash of Vaudeville, and a taste of Burlesque. And, of course it has a happy ending(but not the kind some of the readers might be thinking of!)
My MIA dancers are fantastic—They are passionate performers. I have been working with many of them for several years and they are eager to study and train to hone their technical dance skills. It is some of the best theater dance you have ever seen in Vallarta. And this season’s singers are Marc Lopez, Steven Retchless aka Nova Jean, Hal Bonta, and Ximena Pena Esparza. They each bring something wonderful and different to
the stage—Hal does a beautiful rendition of ‘Song on the Sand’ with the gorgeous Ana Vasquez fan dancing on pointe, as well as ‘Nature Boy’, Steven is beautiful and sexy and silly as Nova Jean, Ximena is a ‘Good Girl’ and very, very cute, and that adorable Marc Lopez will have a big surprise for you when he is performing ‘Feeling Good.’
Tell us what you think about the performing arts/cabaret scene here in PV?
Absolutely amazing!! Entertainment venues have grown here so much in the past 10 years. I think that is great for the city—-arts, culture, entertainment make for a vibrant place to be. It is really exciting to see how many professional artists from all over the world want to be here to perform. The local talent pool is expanding and very good. These different venues all contribute to the economy and well-being of Vallarta locals, part-time residents, and tourists. The city has a variety of venues for performances and they each have something completely different to offer the public and performing artists in terms of space and ambience.
What attracted you to move and live in Puerto Vallarta?
I love the Mexican culture and people so warm and friendly. I love Vallarta’s mountains, jungle and beautiful bay. I have developed so many friends over the past years, who are now like family. I love the feeling of community and the diversity. I love the climate and the sunshine. I love my casa here—old style Mexico with little bluebird tiles in the bathroom and all my beautiful flowers on the terrace. I used love to come to PV because it seemed that time slowed down for me. It wasn’t the constant hustle, bustle and running as in NYC. But as Vallarta is becoming …and growing…now, sometimes I need to remind myself to slow down and remember to look around at all that is beautiful here—-take a walk through the neighborhoods, on the malecon, or sit and take a coffee on Olas Altas.
What are you trying to accomplish producing/creating/directing shows here in PV?
Making shows, creating, choreography is just what I do. It is a huge part of who I am—so I want to be able to make the dancers/actors as technically good as possible—-so they can pair that with their great performance energy. I feel blessed that I have been given the gift to be able to teach them well. Look for ENCUENTROS III, a classical/contemporary dance concert, possibly late this spring. RENDEZVOUS upstairs at Incanto, a small cabaret show in February. And Kimberly LaRue’s FOLLIES LA ROUGE! Act2, Sundays 7:30.
What do you think the new norms will be for the cabaret/performing arts scene in terms of COVID-19?
I have hope that with the vaccine, things will get better by this time next year. What I can say for sure is that the three venues I know well—-Incanto/Tracy Parks, The Palm/Mark Rome, and Act2/Danny Mininni are doing it right. They have spent time and money to re-vamp the air circulation, they are constantly cleaning, monitoring temperatures, masks, squirting antibacterial gel on everyone and they have all limited the audience capacity. None of them expect to make any money for themselves this year—-they are simply trying to survive and help their staff survive through this pandemic. I think that is what we are all trying to do.