Dancing The Dream
Acrobatic performer takes her talent to Las Vegas
By Daniel Barnes
Ten times a week, the C.K. McClatchy High School graduate performs at Wynn Las Vegas as an acrobatic dancer in Le Rêve – The Dream. Staged in an “aqua theater-in-the-round,” the show is so physically demanding that every cast member must become SCUBA-certified.
Isler also owns Dogwood Party Rentals, a wedding décor company that she relocated from Sacramento to Las Vegas. Meanwhile, her daughter Romy is just a year old. It’s unclear when or if Isler gets to sleep.
Raised in Land Park, Isler started studying gymnastics as a child and performed competitive cheerleading as a teenager. Not wanting to waste all that training, but not interested in pursuing collegiate-level cheerleading, Isler decided to study dance at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. “I was shocked that my parents were OK with that,” she says. “I guess it worked out in the end.”
Majoring in dance at college proved a unique experience for Isler. “You still have to do all the other classes, but you also have your dance classes all day long in between,” she says. “You’re always walking around campus in your sweats or dance clothes.”
A couple of months before graduation, Isler auditioned for a Los Angeles-based dance theater called Diavolo. “They were a really acrobatic dance company, which I felt like I could do because I had my gymnastics background,” she says. “I made it through the whole thing and got a call within the next couple days.”
Straight out of college, Isler started touring with Diavolo, traveling the world nearly nine months out of the year. She performed in cities across the U.S., as well as in South Korea, Italy, Brazil and Canada. Diavolo dancers not only performed, they also unloaded the trucks, built the scenery and struck the set. With only 10 people in the company, dancers frequently played through injuries.
“I was really young, so I felt like I would do anything for this company,” Isler says. “It was my whole life.”
On top of it all, two dancers would go out during the day to teach classes in the communities they visited. Venues included elementary schools, universities, corporate trust classes, hospitals and a juvenile detention center.
After four exhausting years with Diavolo, Isler started looking for other opportunities. She and a friend who was also in the company, “secretly auditioned for Le Rêve when we were back in town,” she says. Isler aced the audition and was invited back to Las Vegas for a Le Rêve workshop designed to test not just the dancers’ talents, but also their fears.
“They ask you to do something you’ve never done before, and you just try to make it happen,” Isler says. “In the moment, you almost become superhuman.” Her competition included an Olympian from Venezuela and an NCAA gymnast from Florida. Isler got the job, joining the international team of dancers and acrobats at Le Rêve in 2009.
Eleven years later, she still performs 10 nights a week. The 90-person cast includes musicians, synchronized swimmers and ballroom dancers, but Isler and her team do a little bit of everything. “We do all the acrobatics, all the harness stuff, all the high diving, all the acrobatic dance stuff,” she says. Isler also performs an acrobatic dance solo twice a week, rotating with five other dancers in the show.
Le Rêve is so demanding that performers get swim- and strength-tested every six months. After giving birth to Romy, Isler had only two months to get back into performing shape. “I had to retrain my body,” she says. “You don’t realize how hard it is until your body can’t do it.”
Meanwhile, Isler’s involvement with Dogwood Party Rentals began by accident. In operation since 2012, Dogwood rents out new and vintage items such as furniture, flatware, chairs and signage for weddings and other parties. Isler rented out some specialty items from the then Sacramento-based business for her wedding (her husband works in the Le Rêve carpentry department).
When Isler’s mother returned the rentals, the owner mentioned she was selling the store, and the daydreaming began. “We thought it could work in Vegas. We thought about how fun it would be, and I just ran with it,” Isler says. “I bought the company and moved it here, and I’m hoping it will be my exit plan from Le Rêve.”
For information on Le Rêve – The Dream, visit wynnlasvegas.com/entertainment/le-reve-the-dream.
Daniel Barnes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.