As a young girl growing up in Tahoma, Christin Hanna always knew she had a passion for dance. But after beginning her formal training in Lake Tahoe, the lack of local opportunity led her to leave home by her junior year to pursue her dreams. She joined the Oakland Ballet as a teenager. A decade of professional dancing in New York City soon followed.
Hanna was dancing in the Berkshire Mountains of New England when a life-changing idea first sparked. While performing at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, Mass., she realized that this was something she could bring back home.
“We want to become a place that performs
cutting-edge dance and fosters local artists.”
“Being there, in a destination community surrounded by dance, I realized there wasn’t a lot of dance here,” Hanna recalls. “Seeing something successful in a resort area, I realized I could do it here and it would be a meaningful next step in my career.”
In 2008, Hanna returned home to create Tahoe Youth Ballet that then became the nonprofit Lake Tahoe Dance Collective. As founding artistic director, Hanna went on to create the Lake Tahoe Dance Festival, now in its fourth year.
After offering three weeks of workshops in which local dance students train with visiting professionals from around the country, the festival is from July 27 to 29 with performances by both world-class dancers and their aspiring students.
Christian Burns | Andrea Basile
“Our teachers have had major careers in the world of dance and come here year after year to be part of this special event,” says Hanna. “We wanted something that would involve a group of artists who create, perform and consider themselves part of something that is evolving.”
This year’s program features four performances by leading professional dancers and two workshop pieces, including contemporary new works by Christian Burns and Constantine Baecher, an excerpt from “Swan Lake,” and a selection from “Agathlon” by mid-century choreographer Erick Hawkins. Featured dancers will include Tracy Finch of New York’s New Chamber Ballet, Jakob Pringle and Megan Thornton of Salt Lake City’s Ballet West and longtime festival collaborator Kristina Berger.
“With a wide range of choreography, the festival offers a spectacular night at the lake for both connoisseurs and those new to dance,” said Hanna. “We’ve carefully selected our program to offer a complete education in dance for those attending their first performance, while longtime fans will discover new choreographers and enjoy rarely-performed classics.”
Kristin Hanna | Jen Schmidt
Noting the success of classical arts in other resort communities, such as Vail and Aspen, Hanna sees a need and desire for the expansion of cultural offerings in Tahoe.
“People come to Tahoe for a lot of reasons and dance hasn’t always been one of them,” she says. “It’s silly, if you look at other resort towns, that we don’t have it here. We want to become a place that performs cutting-edge dance and fosters local artists. We can create opportunities for younger choreographers and people making a name for themselves.”
Although local dancers may always harbor dreams of eventual success in New York and other dance capitals of the world, Hanna hopes that in the future that Lake Tahoe can also be on the short list of dance destinations.
“I think a huge part of a well-rounded society is having arts as an offering and it should not be excluded because we are a rural area,” she says. “It’s great to be a ballerina in Manhattan, but our success was measured by New York Times reviews or big-time donations. I wasn’t having the impact I have had here. You do have to leave to come back.”
Lake Tahoe Dance Festival
July 28 & 29 | 6 p.m.
Gatekeeper’s Museum | Tahoe City
Lake Tahoe Dance Collective
Aug. 20 | 6 p.m.
Gatekeeper’s Museum | Tahoe City
Claudia Schreier & Company
Oct. 14 | 7 p.m.
Oct. 15 |2 & 7 p.m.
Tahoe Art Haus & Cinema | Tahoe City