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Artown Creates Festival History at Rancho

I have to marvel at the brilliance of Artown’s Executive Director, Beth MacMillan.

It was in October of 2020 when, faced with the COVID venue shutdown, that MacMillan came up with the idea of performing at a large socially distanced (attendance controlled) outdoor performance venue.  The fact that the City did not have such a venue did not stop this fearlessly determined lady.  “I realized that our community needed to see live performances again. We all need to be able to laugh together and cry together – even if socially distanced.”  Beth told me: “In order to put on a large Festival such as Artown, one needs to plan well in advance.”  And plan she did, as did SNB.

Originally SNB was scheduled to perform Giselle in July, 2021 at the Sand Harbor outdoor venue on Lake Tahoe and as part of Artown at the Pioneer Center in Reno and at the Carson City Community Center-both indoor venues. But, by September of 2020, indoor performances were still not happening, and both indoor venues had no definite plans as to when they might reopen to live performances.  This left SNB without a definite live performance summer venue in Reno and in Carson.

When I got that call from Beth describing her vision for a fabulous new large socially distanced outdoor performance venue constructed at Rancho San Rafael that could be crowd controlled, it felt as if our dream of presenting a live summer performance of Giselle in Reno might be possible.

However, there were many drawbacks. For one thing, the cost for Artown to bring in an outdoor stage for a month was astronomical. Then there were the additional costs of security (day and night), a sound and light system, a full tech crew, “portapotties,” ticket-takers and ushers, etc.  Some of this cost had to be passed down to each performing arts organization that decided to rent the facility for their event.

Since presenting a large classical story ballet is quite costly to begin with, adding a high rental fee presented a great challenge for SNB.  But the SNB Board felt that this new performance venue was filled with amazing possibilities, would be historic for the Artown Festival, and they agreed with Beth MacMillan that it is very important for the community to be able to come together again for live performances. So (despite the high rental fee) the SNB Board elected to move forward with presenting Giselle at Rancho San Rafael on July 17th, 2021 at 7:30 PM.

Instead of selling tickets individually for Rancho events, Artown elected to sell Ticket “Pods” (4 ticket places together) with 6 feet of social distance between each Pod to ensure the safety of their audiences. Members can elect to purchase a pod as a single place or as a place to sit with friends (up to 4).  Pods for Giselle range from $66 to $89 per pod (which translates to between $16.50 to $22.25) per individual ticket. Audience members are invited to bring blankets or low-backed chairs and refreshments (no glass) to the venue, and some food and beverages will be available for purchase for those who wish to include a fun picnic experience as part of the performance event.

SNB’s production of Giselle is based upon the original 1841 choreography by Perrot and Coralli, passed down to me by the legendary ballet great, Igor Youskevitch, and features principal dancers from Oklahoma City Ballet: Dayoung Jung as Giselle and Alejandro Gonzales as Albrecht, with Ananda Bena-Weber as Myrtha (Queen of the Wilis), Domingo Rubio as Hilarion, Alexander Biber as the Prince, Carson Ford as the lead Peasant and Bruka’s Mary Bennett as Berthe, mother of Giselle.

This beloved classic story about the young peasant girl who falls in love with a Royal Duke is filled with romance, humor, drama, and heartbreak. The moving music of Adolphe Adam combined with the ethereal choreography for the dancers creates an unforgettable esthetic experience for the audience.  In this time (when we have had to remain distanced from one another) the esprit de corps  (spirit of the group) that is exhibited in this magnificent ballet is something to be especially treasured by us all.

Besides presenting Giselle at Rancho San Rafael on July 17, SNB will present Giselle at the Brewery Arts Center (outdoor venue) on July 23 at 7:30 PM and at the Sand Harbor outdoor venue on Lake Tahoe on July 26 at 7:30 PM as part of the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival. In addition, SNB will present a FREE concert, Dancing On The Plaza , in front of the Pioneer Center on July 30 at 8:00 PM. This event will be live-streamed and include music and song with guest stars: International Tap great,  Sam Weber; singer/musician Eric Henry Anderson, and composer/musician Zach Terran performing with the SNB company of dancers.

This will be an exciting summer of live performances for SNB and a historic month-long Festival for Artown. Do not miss it!

For SNB ticket information: visit www.sierranevadaballet.org or call 775-360-8663.

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