Nevada City Dance Fest shines with regional talent |

Nevada City Dance Fest shines with regional talent

A dancer from San Francisco's Dawson Dance rehearses for the Nevada City Dance Festival.
Submitted photo |


WHO: Miners Foundry Cultural Center presents 2nd Annual Nevada City Dance Festival

WHEN: Tuesday – Friday, March 14-17, Doors 6 p.m, Show 7 p.m.

WHERE: Miners Foundry Cultural Center, 325 Spring St., Nevada City

TICKETS: $30/GA, Tickets are available online at, by phone (530) 265-5040, or in person at the Miners Foundry, or in person at Briar Patch Co-Op. Ticketing fees may apply.


“I feel very passionate about presenting arts in smaller, rural communities, because our residents are just as deserving of the highest quality arts programming,” says Christin Hanna, artistic director of the Lake Tahoe Dance Collective (LTDC). “We’ve also found that getting out of the city invigorates our guest artists!”

Hanna is one of five professional dance companies that will perform at and teach master classes during this year’s Nevada City Dance Festival, March 14-17 at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center. The dance festival spans several dance forms including contemporary ballet, modern, African and aerial dance.

The dance festival is made possible in part to a Local Impact grant from the California Arts Council (CAC) to support smaller arts organizations for the purpose of providing project support and fostering equity, access and opportunity to arts programs in smaller communities.


Back by popular demand is San Francisco based dance company dawsondancesf who kicks off the dance festival on Tuesday, March 14. Known for its rich, raw, highly physical movement, dawsondancesf reaches beyond the limits of classical ballet in an effort to create innovative and thought-provoking contemporary dance works.

“It’s so exciting to return because the community is now familiar with our work and they know that we thrive in transforming the space,” explains Gregory Dawson, who danced with Alonzo King LINES Ballet for 18 seasons and remains resident choreographer for LINES’ education programs. “This year we are bringing “punctus contra punctum” featuring the music of Brahm’s Opus 51 no1 in C minor. This particular composition is done in a square with audiences on all four sides. The audience will be even closer to the work than they were last year, which will bring them in closer to the composition.”

By connecting the classical musical technique of Counterpoint to a modern and contemporary movement aesthetic, punctus contra punctum is dawsondancesf’s exploration of the creation of choreography through the idea of “melody against melody”.


The dance festival continues on Wednesday, March 15 with performances by the Lake Tahoe Dance Collective and Linda Bair Dance Company.

After a successful career as a professional dancer in New York City, Hanna returned to her hometown of Tahoe City to found LTDC (a not-for-profit performing group for top-level students in the area), co-direct the Lake Tahoe Dance Festival in the summer (2016 was the fourth annual), and produce a winter repertory show and a guest company in the fall. Eight years later, Lake Tahoe Dance Collective built a community appreciative of professional concert dance of all disciplines in Tahoe City.

LTDC will perform three pieces on Wednesday, March 15. The first is Haydn Symphony, an airy and classically driven romp through Haydn’s score. It offers LTDC’s dancers a chance to showcase their virtuosity in neoclassical ballet. It also highlights guest Calvin Thomas in the male principal role along with LTDC’s own Elena Prisco in the female principal role. Another piece is from an excerpt of Heyoka, by American mid-century modern dance icon Erick Hawkins and combines themes of light and floating with a large dynamic group. Finally long-time LTDC collaborate Deborah Lohse will work with the Tahoe Youth Ballet on her piece “Face Time” which plays with the growing intimate relationships we have with our digital devices.


Similar to Hanna, Linda Bair, founder of the Linda Bair Dance Company (LBDC), has committed much of her professional life to presenting world-class dance in her community. Based in Davis, CA, LBDC is in residence at the Davis Arts Center where Bair teaches all levels of modern dance. She also teaches in the Theatre and Dance Department at UC Davis.

“Modern dance is, for me, a participatory art,” says Bair. “Sometimes audiences new to this kind of dance are frustrated by the feeling of “not getting it.” I want the audience to let the dances wash over them, noticing what sensations, feelings, ideas come to them as they watch or even after the piece is over. Each dance will be viewed differently by each person and informed by their own experiences in life.”

Following Lake Tahoe Dance Collective’s performance, Linda Bair Dance Company will showcase three pieces. Bair chose three dances that were very different from one another kinetically, emotionally, and musically; and span her company’s history from 2002 to a 2017 premiere.

The first piece “Weather” is a bold expression of the wildness, chaos and order of weather patterns. “My Hands/Tu Brazos” was made with Jorge Luis Morejon who she met while he was doing his PhD in performance studies at UC Davis and now teaches in Miami. The piece explores the idea of love in a long-term relationship. Blair’s newest piece “I can scarcely move or draw my breath” takes its title from one of the lines in the opening piece of “The Cold Song” by Henry Purcell with lyrics by John Dryden. Composed in the 1600s, the song feels very contemporary to Bair and explores themes of death and love, and remembering of a life lived.


While Wednesday night’s event explores contemporary ballet and modern dance in one night, the festival’s finale on Friday, March 17, showcases Congolese and Aerial dance with performances by Pisa Za Congo Dance Company with Vivien Bassouamina, and AirAligned Aerial Dance Group with Tresa Honaker.

“This festival is rare in the sense of African Dance being performed alongside the contemporary forms of ballet and aerial dance,” explains Lisa Anderson, Assistant Artistic Director and performer with Pisa Za Congo Dance Company. “It is interesting to see the evolution of movement from its African roots to today’s modern forms, and how groups such as Pisa Za Congo have created a fusion of their own with the two.”

Pisa Za Congo (Children of Congo) Dance Company is a professional Drum and Dance Performance Ensemble based in Santa Cruz, CA, that is directed by Bassouamina. His movements are informed by his understanding that everything in nature is dancing. Pisa’s first piece “Reincarnation” is based upon Bassouamina’s memory of a past life as an ancient forest. Another dance is about the importance of water itself to humankind. The evening will be accompanied by traditional African drumming.

“Congolese Dance has had a strong representation here in the foothills for over 20 years,” explains Anderson. “These very old rhythms and dances appeal to students of all ages; it makes one feel part of a village; at home and welcomed into the tribe of African dance.”


Following Pisa Za Congo’s performance is the festival’s finale with AirAligned Aerial Dance Group featuring Tresa Honaker. AirAligned started in Grass Valley in 2002 by Honaker. Unlike traditional circus performers AirAligned members consist of formally trained dancers. Productions are beautifully choreographed and athletically executed. The group will present the world premiere of “Heroes of AirAligned”.

The piece embodies four separate stories of iconic legends – Robin Hood, Apollo, Thor and Rama – and showcases acrobatics and aerial dance at its best. The inspiration behind the piece was Honaker seeking out her own symbols of protection and strength. She found something powerful and comforting about the stories of these Gods and Heroes.

“I felt a strong need to work primarily with male dancers for this show,” explains Honaker. “In all honesty, I personally have had some challenging twists to my life and part of that pain and frustration was coming from a few female persons that were at one time close to me.”

For the last two years Honaker has resided at the WAL Warehouse Artist Lofts in Sacramento. Being surrounded by other artists has helped her evolve as a choreographer and be inspired by other collaborations between arts organizations and professional dancers.

“Modern dance is alive and thriving!” she says. “I hope the audience and festival-goers allow themselves to indulge in the talented professionals that will in and around Nevada County this week. Ask questions. Pick our brains. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new.”

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