When Miami-born Genise Ruidiaz took the leap to produce her first show in Las Vegas, she had a lot of performing experience behind her. Like many dancers, Ruidiaz started dancing at the early age of six, studying in a studio run by John Culbertson and Cookie Ramos. Ruidiaz started dancing professionally with C&J Productions at the age of 16, and while living in Miami performed in multiple Spanish award shows as well as the VMA’s in 2005.
Later, she joined the cast of Cirque du Soleil’s The Beatles Love show in Las Vegas. Upon completing a year-long contract with the show, Genise toured for several years in America’s Got Talent Live.
Genise has danced on television shows including X-Factor, Glee, True Blood, American Idol, The Voice, Emmy’s, American Music Awards, and Dancing with the Stars to name a few. She worked with world-renowned artists like Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, and Nikki Minaj. She returned to Las Vegas accepting a position as an original cast member in Steve Wynn’s Showstoppers. Now she takes that experience and goes behind the scenes to producer her first show, Reverie, at Bally’s Hotel & Casino.
Vegas Report: Tell us a bit about why you decided to produce your own show.
Genise: I decided to start my own show because I needed a change. I needed something challenging and exciting in my life. After all the years dancing in other people’s routines and helping portray other people’s visions, I wanted the chance to show the world my vision. I have always looked up to artists like Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce—they are both strong women who fearlessly tackle their dreams—and I wanted to do the same.Vegas Report: What challenges did you find at the start? Were you prepared for everything that was to come?
Genise: What challenges did I not face would be the better question! At the beginning, everything was a challenge. I had confidence in my dance ability, in my choreography, and in my vision as an artist, but the business side is a whole new world for me. However, I always knew, with confidence and determination I would find a way. I used every resource available to me, from googling things on the internet, to asking questions of small business owners, and even approaching random strangers in the casino. I had to teach myself to create an LLC, open bank accounts, hire employees, design marketing, and many other things that were out of my typical wheelhouse. I knew in starting a company I would face many challenges so I tried to mentally prepare myself for that. I think the most important challenge for my journey is deciding how my company and my shows can set themselves apart from others in the industry. I want to always focus on what my company will bring to the table and what new imagery and experiences I can offer audiences. I think as long as I continue to make that a priority, and continue to lean on the amazing support system I have around me, I can tackle anything.
Vegas Report: What fears, concerns or questions did you have going in to your first producing gig?
Genise: Fear of failure has always been something I have struggled with. I don’t like to lose and I don’t want to feel like I have let down the people around me. It becomes especially difficult when your name is on everything and you are the brand you are trying to promote. It makes the pressure that much more intense. One false move and it could all be over.
Vegas Report: Tell us about the process to find a showroom for this show.
Genise: I was very lucky in the experience I had finding a venue for my show. Las Vegas, but also the dance industry as a whole, is all about who you know and the connections you make. Which is why I’ve always found it so important to take time to meet people and always be professional and positive in my work. I am friends with the manager of Indigo Lounge and Bally’s Casino. I pitched him my idea and he brought it up to the hotel’s general manager and executives. I was lucky that they shared my vision for the lounge and so I was given the green light to produce the show. It has been so wonderful working with such a supportive group on people on my first project. I couldn’t think of a better atmosphere to set my show in.Vegas Report: What kind of time does it take to produce a show?
Genise: The time that it takes to produce a show depends on how big the production is, the number of people in the cast, what the overall concept is. Luckily for me I found out January 1st about the opportunity and my opening date was set for February 12th. This gave me roughly a month to get everything together. No matter how much time you have it never seems like enough, but I couldn’t be happier with the final product.
Vegas Report: Why did you choose the schedule of Sundays only?
Genise: The venue offered me Sunday nights. Being that the show was new, they wanted to make sure it was popular before expanding the performances to multiple nights a week. Sundays have actually worked out perfectly with my schedule and the availabilities of the other dancers in the show. We have developed quite a following, and I’m hoping with continued success, we can work on extending our schedule.
Vegas Report: Is the show ticketed? Not ticketed? How did you choose your option?
Genise: Reverie is a free show! Our goal was to bring the glamor and intrigue of old Las Vegas back to the people. We wanted to offer an immersive experience, something that passersby in the casino could see and hear, and it would draw them in. The free ticketing was strategic on our part. We wanted to build hype and let the show grow from word of mouth and not feel the pressure of meeting a quota of ticket sales. We have confidence in the appeal of our show and as more and more people get drawn in and purchase drinks, everyone wins.
Vegas Report: Do you rely on certain people to help you through this process? Do you have any mentors?
Genise: I’m one of the luckiest people in the world. I have such a strong support system surrounding me that always encourages me to pursue my dreams and help in any way they can. My mother, my sisters, my partner and many good friends have been by my side every step of this journey. They’ve helped in so many ways I can’t thank them enough. One of the reasons I hope to find success with my company is so that there will be a day that I will be able to repay them.
Vegas Report: What are the challenges keeping a show running?
Genise: My vision and my ideas can only take the show so far. One of the main reasons we have been so successful thus far is the amazing talent that is in the show. Finding artists to join the show and always keeping things fresh can be difficult in such a competitive industry. Other than that, I think the challenge will be to continue filling seats and keeping interest high to make sure we have a full and excited audience for all our shows.Vegas Report: Tell us about the cast? Did you have certain types or people in mind? Did the casting process open you up to new ideas for cast members?
Genise: I’m very fortunate to dance along side many world class performers. My cast was hand selected for their beauty, bodies, but most of all their abilities. For Reverie, which is a cabaret, I needed magnetic performers that could seduce the audience night after night. I needed confident performers and diversity to bring my vision to life. The casting processes had its ups and downs but we ended up with a phenomenally talented group of people, and as the business grows we can add to it.
Vegas Report: What have you learned in this process of producing your first show?
Genise: This process was not easy. There were a lot of sleepless nights, headaches and stress, but through it all I’ve learned to be persistent and to trust in myself. I have learned about business, networking, advertising, and marketing and everything in between. The most important thing I’ve learned however is that I must always continue to fight, study, and learn. I can feel myself growing and evolving, and it is a breathtaking experience. This whole journey has made me feel so proud.
Vegas Report: What advice would you give a fellow performer looking to cross over behind the scenes?
Genise: To borrow from Nike, “Just do it.” Always believe in yourself. Do your research and educate yourself. Experiment, play, see what works, see what doesn’t and always be ready to adapt. The worst thing you can do is not try. A quote that has always stayed with me and I try to remind myself of daily, is by Nelson Mandela, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid but he who conquers that fear.”