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My li'l headliner: An arts intensive for kids

This summer, Vegas’s soon-to-be stars will have a chance to work with performers from a bevy of the Strip’s biggest shows, including “O,” “Le Rêve” and “The Lion King.” This is no summer camp. It’s four full-time weeks of dance in the mornings and singing, acting and drumming in the afternoons at the direction of dedicated pros, many of them attuned to two-a-day bouts of demanding (sometimes death-defying) shows.

“An intensive is a better word for it,” says Naomi Stikeman, a ballerina and Celine Dion veteran who will run the new program, the Las Vegas Performing Arts Intensive, with her husband, one of the Blue Men.

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Between the core faculty and guests who will drop in to conduct master’s classes, Stikeman has corralled 17 instructors (and that’s even counting the three Blue Men as a single entity). With a total of 35 kids split into age groups of 9 to 11 and 12 to 14, that’s a heck of a student-teacher ratio.

Stikeman hopes this close contact will encourage lasting connections. “If you really love hip-hop and your hip-hop teacher resonates with you, at end of the intensive you’ll have their contact info,” says Stikeman. “My hope is that (students) will be able to communicate with teachers and get guidance in later years.”

As it stands, many home-grown artists of the Entertainment Capital of the World are forced to leave town to hone the skills they need for a local gig. Stikeman predicts that with programs like hers and a growing performing-arts infrastructure (like the brand-new Summerlin studio her students will use), Vegas might soon be as big a magnet for developing stars as it is for world-class headliners.

The Las Vegas Performing Arts Intensive runs July 5-29. Info: