Circus Dreams ‘IGNITE’ Under the Stars at Sandy Valley Ranch

The performances rang true to Las Vegas’ spirit, bold and charming

By Melissa Gill

On May 7th and May 8th, “IGNITE” Festival brought to life a captivating outdoor experience at Sandy Valley Ranch sharing heartfelt stories depicting the emotional turmoil collectively experienced in 2020. Event sponsors Sandy Valley Ranch, Fireball Whisky, 99 Brand, among others assisted in curating a show to reconnect artists and show-goers once again after a year of stages worldwide sitting in the dark.

Sandi Croft, the former artistic director of “Mystere, ” “O” and “Zumanity” teamed up with Brandon Pereyda, former Aerial Chain Artist and MC at “Zumanity” conceived by Cirque du Soleil, to create “IGNITE.”

‘IGNITE’ Appears Like A Mirage in the Desert

After driving down a winding road of hills, about an hour away from Las Vegas, I entered the festival eager to feel the rush of watching live entertainment emerge from the ashes of 2020. The “IGNITE” Festival appeared like a vivid mirage in the middle of nowhere. It did not disappoint.

Artists Deliver Mesmerizing Performances

Under a starry night sky, a group of 26 performers lit up the stage with a variety of acts expressing different emotional hardships the world collectively experienced amid the pandemic. From the artist struggling to escape the restraints of feeling bound to himself (both literally and figuratively) to the choreography embracing the power of human touch, the show reminded me what I missed about live entertainment. I had missed the energy, the passion, the human connection and the suspense that only a performance unfolding right before my eyes could deliver. At moments, I forgot I was sitting on a bale of hay in the middle of the desert after sundown.

Former “Zumanity” host Axle (Brandon Pereyda), led the audience through a journey that explored the frightening feelings of grief and loss of last year, but also expressed the gratitude of finding hope again in moments we may have taken for granted. Plus, Pereyda’s hair, a dazzling fiery mohawk, paired with crimson high heels was arguably the coolest fashion statement anyone made that night.

Several times, the performances took my breath away. Two dancers performed a romantic story of falling in love with one another all over again incorporating their impressive unicycle skills. An artist balanced on a life-size rubber while performing with hula hoops set on fire. A performer exhaled wild flames towards the audience like a majestic desert dragon. Another entertainer interrupted the show dressed in a bathing suit with a rubber duck floaty wrapped around his waist. While he sang a silly rendition of Sesame Street’s “Rubber Duckie,” a dog from the audience rushed towards him ready to play fetch with his squeaky bath toy.

The Unforgettable Circus Dream

Overall, “IGNITE” united the audience through humor and heartwarming performances that can only be sparked by being present for the show. The production rang true to Las Vegas’ spirit, bold and charming, filling the viewers eyes with an awe only Cirque du Soleil artists can evoke. “IGNITE” shook me out of my everyday doldrums and enchanted me with a wild circus dream.

Feature Photo Credit: Christina Russo and John Rohling

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