TAHOE/TRUCKEE - Did you catch the Arts For the Schools OnSTAGE performance of Joe Craven on February 1st? It was a sold out house that night, and many in our community enjoyed a rousing time with Joe. He is a creativity educator, former museum curator, visual artist, actor/storyteller, festival emcee and recipient of the 2009 Folk Alliance Far-West Performer of the Year.
Joe is a musical madman who came to our area and spent time with kids in area schools introducing them to the world of music. Then the rest of the community had the treat of being able to see Joe perform on Friday night at the Church Street Theater.
That night, the main hallway was full of adults and kids as show time drew near. I could feel the excitement of the kids who saw Joe perform in their schools earlier in the week. I could see the anticipation on the faces of those who knew the magical musical performance to come when Joe hit the stage. Seats were found, the lights went down and the stage was lit. When I heard the first note, I thought, "wow, how absolutely wonderful to have a performance like this in our town."
Over the years I've seen outstanding dance, music and performing arts here in the Truckee-North Tahoe areas that were presented by Arts for the Schools OnSTAGE performances. Here are a few:
• Vagabond Opera: an imaginative ensemble of unique talents performed a global repertoire in many languages. We traveled the world from our seats.
• Galumpha: a group of three who combined acrobatics, striking visual effects, physical comedy and inventive choreography into a performance that made me blink and think, "how can they do that?" At times funny and at other times striking poses, that took my breath away.
• Cedric Watson: a four-time Grammy-nominated fiddler, singer, accordionist and songwriter who lit the stage on fire, got toes tapping and had the audience dancing in the aisles. Whether singing in English or French or Creole, the stories told by his songs were both uplifting and soulful.
• Mark Twain: Would you believe I spent an evening with Mark Twain and shook his hand not long ago? Well, he was actually the Ghost of Mark Twain, McAvoy Layne, but meeting him was not so much watching a performance as it was being in the presence of Twain's unique greatness.
• Project Bandaloop: The first time I saw Project Bandaloop was in Reno. I couldn't imagine dancers performing on the side of a building. Talk about turning your world on its side! I never forgot the excitement - the images stayed in my mind of dancers suspended, running, swaying and dancing on a vertical stage. Thanks to AFtS, I had the privilege of seeing them perform again two years ago, dancing on the side of the Resort at Squaw Creek building. It was a spectacular, breath-taking, beautiful, stunning, dramatic, fantastic performance that I will not forget.
The list goes on: Na Lei Hulu, Hawaiian dancers; Fishtank Ensemble, world music with a twist; Diamano Coura, West African folklore and dance; Alpin Hong, pianist; Lula Washington Dance Theater; Dala, angels of folk music; H'Sa, singer/songwriters; and many more. Thanks to OnSTAGE performances presented by AFtS, I have seen and heard and experienced outstanding art that I didn't have to travel far to take in.
Through OnSTAGE, AFtS strives to provide our community the most exceptional arts experiences (not often offered in rural regions such as ours) at the most affordable prices. Performers are selected for their ability to appeal to a broad audience. So, treat yourself to a treat - come to one of our OnSTAGE performances - or better yet, buy a season pass. Not only will you be supporting arts education for our students, but you will be blown away by your experience.
The next two public performances are Saturday, March 16, at 3 p.m. - "The Tortoise Versus the Hare," presented by the Missoula Children's Theatre, featuring local students; and Friday, April 19, at 7 p.m. - "Figures of Speech Theater," the ancient craft of puppetry. I hope to see you there.
- Paula Rachuy is a member of the Arts for the Schools Board of Trustees. Learn more at www.artsfortheschools.org.