An American in (Crazy Horse) Paris
UNLV grad D’Arc cracks prestigious international dance company
Thu, Feb 26, 2009 (midnight)
Photo: Beverly Poppe
Outside the heavy door that separates rows of flashing MGM Grand slot machines from the backstage area of Crazy Horse Paris, two mounted clocks mark the time in Las Vegas and Paris—a symbolic nod to the show’s 1951 origin in the French capital.
Elsewhere, the Parisian influence is even more apparent. Stage calls crackle over the intercom in French, the show’s official language, which also serves as the primary method of communication at rehearsals.
Within the Franco-centric enclave inside the Vegas casino, however, an American accent stands out. It belongs to Kristal D’Arc, the long-legged blonde who began dancing for Crazy Horse Paris’ Vegas cast in December. D’Arc (the stage name given to her by Crazy Horse’s creative director) is the product of a five-day audition, held last year in Las Vegas, which culminated with a Tabu performance in front of celebrity strip-tease dancer Dita Von Teese. D’Arc, 27, is the first American dancer to be cast in Crazy Horse in 58 years.
“A lot of the intrigue of the company and the show itself is the exotic women,” explains Las Vegas-based marketing manager Sally Dewhurst. “We wanted to keep as much flavor with the show as possible, but we thought maybe one or two Americans [would] mix it up even more.”
The daughter of a former Rockette, D’Arc began dancing at age 2. She was in pointe shoes at 8 and joined the Rockettes at 18 as one of the youngest dancers ever to perform with the famous Manhattan troupe. In the months when she wasn’t high-kicking through five shows daily, D’Arc performed as a cruise-ship entertainer. “I got to travel, get paid and pursue dance,” D’Arc gushes.
But the fairy-tale start to D’Arc’s career didn’t last. “I tore my Achilles [tendon] twice,” D’Arc says. “I was onstage both times, and just, crack! There it goes. I saw nine different doctors at least, and each one told me dancing was probably not going to be in my future.”
D’Arc goes quiet. “It was like telling me not to breathe.”
Following a brief period of depression, the dancer moved to Las Vegas and enrolled at UNLV, eventually graduating magna cum laude with a degree in hotel management. Four years after leaving dance, she had a successful new career. And then she heard Crazy Horse Paris was hiring.
Under the patterned lights of Crazy Horse’s plush jewel-box theater, it’s nearly impossible to pick D’Arc out of the international lineup of dancers—apart from the moments when her long, platinum hair flows free.
“I think a lot of girls were shocked,” D’Arc says of the cast’s reaction to having an American onboard. “But they accepted bringing more cultural diversity to the show. You have dancers from all over the world, and now you have an American. It fits.”
Dewhurst agrees. “I think the dynamic has changed a little bit,” she says. “Kristal is very motivated, and she goes to school and has a degree. I think it’s good for the girls.”
Onstage, of course, the cultural diversity so evident in the backstage collage of accents goes mute. The sole American is just another perfectly toned figure dancing around chairs and wrapping herself around a large hoop.
“They’ve molded all the girls so well to fit the Crazy Horse image that everyone represents that,” D’Arc says. “Every number, whether we’re being soldiers or we’re doing a pointe duet or we’re doing a number behind doors like ‘Beauty Boudoir,’ it’s all very seductive.”