For the incredible caliber of the international athletes who call this city home, Las Vegas can thank casting director Louanne Madorma.
A former professional dancer herself, Louanne Madorma is adept at spotting that rare combination of artistry, athleticism, and eye appeal. Top ($225) and Cam pant ($250), Rebecca Taylor. Neiman Marcus, Fashion show, 702-731-3636; Cuff, Oscar De La Renta ($495). Wynn Las Vegas, 702-770-3487; Aurora sandal, Alejandro Ingelmo ($1,195). Neiman Marcus.
When sculpted legs in cherry-red heels break the surface of the pool in Le Rêve and launch into a kicking, splashing, perfectly coordinated dance, Louanne Madorma knows she’s done her job.
As the casting director for the Wynn Las Vegas show, Madorma is responsible for finding people capable of executing Le Rêve’s aquatic routines and high-flying stunts. The current cast includes world-champion gymnasts and Olympic synchronized swimmers, top-level athletic talents who have made the leap from heated competition to artistic performance.
Madorma’s background certainly helps in her search. She started taking ballet and tap classes at age 3 in smalltown Virginia, then worked weekends as a dancer at an amusement park when she was in high school. “I still can’t believe my mom let me get an apartment two hours away at 15,” she says, laughing.
The summer after her freshman year in college, she moved to New York City, where she auditioned for the European tour of West Side Story. Before she knew it, she was dropping out of school and on her way to France.
Although she was working as a dancer, Madorma wanted a more complete show-business education, so she assisted choreographers and directors on various productions, devising her own hands-on theatrical master class. “I always felt like I could do anything,” says the gorgeous wife and mother, who went on to work for Andrew Lloyd Webber, choreographing and directing several of the musical-theater great’s US tours, before taking the job at Wynn in 2006.
In the eight-plus years that Madorma has worked on Le Rêve, she has built relationships with coaches around the world, who funnel gymnasts, synchronized swimmers, acrobats, and martial artists to Las Vegas when their competition days are over or they’re ready for a change. “It’s a symbiotic relationship,” she says. “I learned early on that I wasn’t going to go and poach athletes.”
Of course, not every athlete can make the transition to the Vegas stage. Auditions for Le Rêve include dance combinations, improvisation, and strength and swimming tests, with Madorma looking for the ideal blend of training, physique, and artistic connection. Cast members have to be equally adept at climbing a rope using just their arms and creatively interpreting a piece of music.
Those who make the cut are added to a database of potential cast members, from which Madorma draws whenever a role opens up. “I love when we hire someone and you watch that metamorphosis from the first auditions to the show,” she says. “When I see somebody in the show who’s even more talented than I thought they were, it humbles me. It reminds me to look at people through fresh eyes.”