With outdoor grassroots production ‘Ignite,’ Strip artists and Cirque performers aim to inspire gratitude

Grassroots production brings together talent during pandemic
Published: Mar. 27, 2022 at 2:25 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - It’s been two years since the world-famous Las Vegas Strip shut down, and with it, theater curtains fell and performance spaces went dark.

Since then, much has reopened, and a lot of reflection has been done. However, that experience for local performing artists-- no matter how harrowing-- ignited a new passion and purpose to inspire people to live in the moment. A product of that? A local grassroots production, put on by Strip performers and Cirque artists, that aims to bring talent and audiences together underneath the stars of the Mojave Desert.

“Ignite is not only a show, it’s a full immersive nine-hour experience, where people get to reconnect and embrace being in nature... What happened for these two years had an impact for sure,” said Alexis Ochin, artistic director of Ignite. “And a realization of how fragile our industry is, as well, but also how resilient it is.”

COVID-19 caused the creatives behind Ignite to get even more creative; Ignite was actually first developed last year before audiences were allowed to return.

“We just called our friends who we knew were not working at the time, and are extremely talented, and we put this team together,” said Sandi Croft, founder of Ignite.

That team is returning April 22-24, with their COVID-friendly outdoors desert festival at Sandy Valley Ranch, located a 45 minute drive outside of Las Vegas.

Many of the creators and performers are presently or formerly with Cirque du Soleil, including shows such as Love, Zumanity, and La Rêve.

“I was artistic director for Cirque du Soleil for ten years,” said Croft.

This experience is an offering that is uniquely Vegas. Rehearsals are now underway, and this year’s theme is “Return to the Elements.”

For many artists who dealt with pandemic-related closures, it’s a return to something else-- to a higher calling-- and a reflection of what it means to be an artist right now in society.

“We are so focused about work and profit and everything and artists are there to remind us that we are so lucky to be alive and explore all of these senses,” said Ochin.

He said this is especially important as so many of us are living in a state of survival mode in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdowns, impacts and traumas.

“Maybe the first thought is that art and entertainment is not essential,” said Ochin. “But if you take that away, then what is the meaning of you know living, as well? What do you work for? What do you run all day for? You run for those moments of escape and imagination. That’s the beauty of being human, is like, we can project things and invent; create myth and legends. And you know, that’s what humans have done for millennia, is gather around the fire, under the stars, and like, create those legends and myth that tell us something about ourselves.”

Ignite will feature music, games, food trucks and beyond, but if it’s up to artists like Ochin, they’re hoping what you take from it is remembering your dreams are essential.

“If you can dream yourself, you’re gonna be making people dream as well,” said Ochin. “And that’s what Ignite is about.”

Croft said last year’s show sold out within the first couple weeks. Learn more about this year’s show here.