Project eARTh Ambassadors | Performance art for change

Performers from the eARTh production in December 2017. | Courtesy Kelly Smiley

Tahoe Flow Artists created Project eARTh Ambassadors using performance art to spread awareness about the importance of environmental conservation. The No Plastic Tahoe initiative is the eARTh Ambassadors first major project, which aims to eliminate as much plastic as possible in the Tahoe Basin.

Watch a performance of “eARTh”

“The Tahoe Flow Artists use movement as a vehicle for change,” says Tahoe Flow Arts owner Kelly Smiley, adding that using live performers to convey their message helps the environment and is entertaining.

“We have a platform,” says Abi Collomb Gregor, Smiley’s friend and co-creator of No Plastic Tahoe. “We’ll go to a crowded beach, turn on a loudspeaker and start dancing and people stop what they’re doing and listen. Then they want to help out.”

Holiday Bazaar
Dec. 8 | 5-10 p.m.
Tahoe Flow Arts | Tahoe Vista

The idea to start eARTh Ambassadors came in February 2015 after Smiley did a yoga training in Nicaragua. She noticed the amount of plastic and waste compared to its neighbor Costa Rica and realized that her studio in Tahoe was the perfect place to try to implement change. As the studio put on public and private performances with a focus on protecting the earth, the Tahoe Flow Arts Earth Ambassadors started to gain notoriety.

Mermaid gatherings for summer beach cleanups. | Courtesy Meredith Calderas

Flash forward to December 2017 when Tahoe Flow Arts put on its first full-length performance introducing the eARTh Ambassadors and their mission. Held at the Tahoe Art Haus & Cinema in Tahoe City, the performances led the audience through scenes of the earth’s destruction caused by human error, then showed how to change the path of the future through love and conservation.

Community members and Tahoe Flow Arts students used aerial silks, hoops, yoga, tap and dance skills to communicate the cause. Music was performed, as well. For instance, a song written and performed by 15-year-old Truckee resident Madison Burns was featured. The sold-out show raised more than $2,000 in donations for No Plastic Tahoe.

Created under the eARTh Ambassadors umbrella, Smiley and Collomb formed No Plastic Tahoe to try to completely eliminate single-use plastics in the Tahoe Basin.

This year, the sixth annual Tahoe Flow Arts 2018 Holiday Bazaar will be held at the studio in Tahoe Vista on Dec. 8 will be a no-plastic event with local vendors, a silent auction and live music and dance performances, including trapeze, acrobatic and aerial acts; belly dancing and more. Guests are being asked to bring their own cups or to purchase stainless-steel Klean Kanteen cups at the event.

Great Spirit performance at Made in Tahoe Festival 2018. | Courtesy Kelly Smiley

“[Holiday Bazaar] is totally free. It’s our way of giving back to the community and also spreading information about our cause. This year we will take the opportunity to really tell people what we’re doing and promote our number-one goal of eliminating single-use plastic in the Tahoe Basin,” Smiley says.

More long-term goals include creating reusable coffee cups, sippy cups and a smartphone app that shows water-filling stations around the Basin.

“We want to make this trendy and cool,” Smiley says. “Our biggest mission is instilling these habits into daily life.”

She realized how little trash her family now produces just by eliminating plastic — to the point where they almost don’t need a trash service.

Collomb concurs: “I feel I’ve learned an excessive amount since starting this and I think about how I can conserve on a daily basis.”

“It’s been an amazing journey so far, but we still have a lot of work to do,” Smiley says. | (530) 546-2343,