Get out-and-about to support Tahoe-Reno’s passionate performers as they make their way back to the stage.
Tahoe-Reno’s arts and culture scene is making up for lost time with a jam-packed season. Here’s a look at performances and other in-person events to support its return.
The Nevada Museum of Art’s connection to the land stretches back to its roots in outdoor landscape painting. The legacy continues through its Center for Art + Environment and vast collection of altered landscape photography. Two new exhibits, which are concurrently on view from June 26, 2021, to January 2, 2022, deepen the commitment.
“Gianfranco Gorgoni: Land Art Photographs” comes along at just the right moment to commemorate the late Italian artist who passed away in 2019. Though the American West seems a long way from his native Rome, it’s where his career took off to become the most prominent documentarian of America’s Land Art movement. The exhibit’s large-format photographs of works by Michael Heizer, Walter De Maria and Robert Smithson, among many artists, give a choice overview of Gorgoni’s archives on the subject, which the Center acquired five years ago.
The group show “Land Art: Expanding the Atlas” presents the bigger picture. Works by dozens of artists depict the movement’s progression from Gorgoni’s pioneers who birthed Land Art in the Sixties and Seventies to contemporary contributors. NMA is the ideal institution to tell the story. nevadaart.org
Lake Tahoe Dance Collective bursts with creativity for its annual Lake Tahoe Dance Festival from July 27-30. All but one of the six works are new commissions according to founder and artistic director Christin Hanna. Tahoe City native Jack Blackmon premieres a solo that he also choreographed, and New York City Ballet principal Ashley Bouder returns to dance a piece by multidisciplinary artist Jehbreal Jackson.
“Ashley is a huge advocate of diversity in the dance world and putting forth the work of women, people of color and members of the LGBTQ community,” said Hanna, whose mission has always been to represent burgeoning voices and overlooked gems. “Even though we’ve had our eye on diversity for a long time, everyone has work to do in that department.”
Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Christopher Charles McDaniel will give his all during a 14-minute solo by prolific choreographer Durante Verzola with Tchaikovsky’s Rococo-influenced score. Like most pandemic collaborations, theirs began over Zoom. Hanna’s school avoided Zoom by moving to an outdoor classroom last spring, a stroke of luck that carries over to the festival’s open-air venues at the Gatekeeper’s Museum in Tahoe City and Donner Lake’s West End Beach. Covid alters some traditions, however. The program favors solos, and tickets are sold as two-person pods spaced six feet apart. Attendees of the opening night gala performance and silent auction will dine on catered picnics baskets.
“We obviously won’t be able to accommodate our usual audiences,” said Hanna, who’s undeterred in getting the word out to new home owners and visitors. “Tahoe has seen huge growth with covid, and people are noticing that the quality of our classes and performances is on par with major cities.” laketahoedancecollective.org
The Reno Phil is taking advantage of summer temps and al fresco settings to revisit in-person performances. Music director and conductor Laura Jackson’s feel-good lineup appeals to a broad, entertainment-starved audience.
“After a long year without live entertainment, a program of timeless and iconic music is the perfect way to come together again,” she said.
Concert goers should know almost every tune. “An American Salute: Fourth of July with the Reno Phil,” its collaboration with Artown and vocalist Kyle Rea, comes to Rancho San Rafael Regional Park on July 3-4. It returns to the locale for the Pops on the River fundraiser on July 10, when Aisha de Haas and Capathia Jenkins do their best Ella Fitzgerald impressions. The singers follow with “A Tribute to Ella,” part of the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival Showcase Series at Lake Tahoe-Nevada State Park’s Sand Harbor, on July 19.
“Everything about Ella is timeless. Her style, voice, artistry and songs can’t help but make you smile,” said Jackson, whose last two concerts on August 9 at Sand Harbor and August 11 at the Greater Nevada Field honor another legend—James Bond. renophil.com
Artown is just the cure for Covid blues. Cultural events of all kinds happen throughout Washoe County for the entire month of July. The annual festival’s home base relocates from Wingfield Park in Downtown Reno to Rancho San Rafael Regional Park for social distancing in ticketed, four-person pods set six feet apart.
Organizers chose the 26th season’s diversity and inclusion theme, “Everybody Artown” to engage the whole community and make everyone feel welcome. The live music and dance lineup achieves that spirit of variety through acts like The Hot Sardines (jazz), Kronos Quartet (classical), Cirque Zuma Zuma (African) and Jake Shimabukuro (pop ukulele). Highlights with local ties are the Reno Phil, Sierra Nevada Ballet, which presents “Giselle,” and Whitney Myer, a soul singer who appeared on “The Voice.”
As a Reno native, Myer represents Artown’s mission to spotlight local talent. Marketing director Oliver X estimates more than 300 artists and cultural organizations will host partnering events.
“It’s worth noting that Artown is a festival that also hosts other annual festivals,” he said, citing Lavender Day at the May Arboretum (July 10), Gospel Fest headlined by Grammy winner Juanita Wynn at Rancho San Rafael (July 16) and Northern Nevada Pride at Wingfield Park (July 24), as some to look out for. artown.org
Valhalla’s summer concert, improv and play series celebrates the 25th anniversary of its Boathouse Theatre and introduces the Grand Lawn for concerts. Capacity for indoor productions is limited to 57 people, while outdoor shows are sold as tables for parties of two or six. Free, socially distanced lawn seating is also available.
“We rebooked last year’s lineup that got canceled and anticipate them all to sell out,” said operations and sales manager Michelle Morton.
The program champions California musicians with upbeat songs and distinct voices, including Achilles Wheel’s genre-crossing jams on July 21; singer-songwriter Tom Rhodes on July 28; Grateful Bluegrass Boys, whose acoustic string covers encompass rock and pop hits beyond their namesake band’s repertoire, on August 11, and gypsy jazz-vaudeville hybrid Earles of Newtown on August 18. Dirty Cello plays Valhalla’s 25th-anniversary fundraiser in the Boathouse Theatre on September 6. All proceeds benefit theater improvements.
For its 28th season, Tahoe ImPRoV Players performs four shows in Valhalla’s Grand Hall. Peter Gordon’s Agatha Christie spoof “Murdered to Death” will be staged June 30-July 3 and July 6-9.
“Everybody loves a good murder mystery, and this is a real whodunit,” said Morton, of this year’s pick directed by Dave Hamilton. “An actor mentioned it’s the first play on the South Shore in 16 months.” valhallatahoe.com
The bard makes a comeback this July 17-August 22 at Lake Tahoe’s Sand Harbor outdoor amphitheater with Shakespeare’s The Complete Works (Abridged). This twist on classic Shakespeare takes three ambitious actors, clad in Converse tennis shoes and armed with an outrageous assortment of outerwear and props, through the entire canon of plays (and sonnets!) into two hours of sheer Elizabethan-esque ecstasy. The popular summer Showcase Series at Sand Harbor brings a collection of more great outdoor entertainment to the region with performances by the Reno Philharmonic, the Sierra Nevada Ballet, The Reno Jazz Orchestra and more. laketahoeshakespeare.com