Pulsing bass and building beats used to be all it took to satisfy clubbers to their dancing core. But with a growing need to see as much as we hear, the set of a headlining DJ has evolved into a chance to showcase their music against a backdrop of high-tech theatrics. At Hakkasan, staff work behind the scenes Thursday through Sunday to stage shows replete with confetti and CO2, lighting and liquid nitrogen, video and other high-tech tricks seen elsewhere on the Strip. But what other venues can’t claim is the artistic team of Gen Cleary and Andrea Frey, whose talents have collided since April 2013 to create Hakkasan’s multisensory vignettes that are as energized, electric and at times unexpected as the DJs spinning onstage.
As founder and creative director of Belluscious Productions, Cleary’s
company handles Hakkasan’s performers—their dynamic dance, aerial numbers and their sophisticated, ultramodern costumes. Together with Frey—Hakkasan’s show director and project manager whose production expertise ensures Cleary’s vision can be executed in the club—the two women have created performances unique to the visions of artists such as Steve Aoki, Hardwell and Tiësto.
“Every night we ensure our shows are extravagant, the costumes are elaborate and the décor is incredible,” Frey says. “And every show varies depending on the artist spinning, special event or big holiday weekends. We strive to translate the [headlining] artist’s vision into the production throughout the club. We work very closely with our artists.”
Storytelling is at the heart of Belluscious’ art. The company first hit Vegas in 2008 when it was hired to create the show Perfecto featuring Paul Oakenfold. Today it continues its mission of developing performances that people have never seen before. Case in point: the Calvin Harris show. “We [made] TV heads that the dancers wear while performing a choreographed routine,” Cleary explains. “These props are synced up to the main LED screens and project the same images to add to the visual experience of the guests.”
Cleary and Frey may be the brains behind Hakkasan’s dance floor beauty, but they give credit where it’s due: to the performers. Calling her deft dancers’ moves “challenging” (can we go back to the whole balancing a television prop on your head with enough poise and sex appeal to woo a wild-eyed clubber’s stare?), dancers were selected after numerous auditions. They have an incredible ability to seamlessly morph their moves into their attire, becoming one with their costumes through dance. “And,” says Cleary, “all of them have been with us since the beginning. That right there says it all.”