Tahoe Dance Festival: Bringing it all together

Christin Hanna
Special to the Sun
Constantine Baecher and Christin Hanna, seen here practicing a dance, have built a special relationship over the years.
Courtesy New Chamber Ballet |

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third in a four-part series of “Collaborators in Conversation” stories, as told by members of Tahoe Youth Ballet, in preview of the inaugural Lake Tahoe Dance Festival, taking place Aug. 14-16. Read Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Growing up here wasn’t easy. I was teased for being tall and skinny, I had teachers tell me my dreams were unrealistic, and I felt painfully different from everyone around me. I couldn’t wait to leave. I wanted culture, arts and the energy of the city, but I mostly wanted to find people who I had something in common with — I wanted to be surrounded by other dancers.

I was very lucky to come across one in particular. Constantine (Costya) and I were partnered up one day in rehearsal at American Ballet Theater’s summer program and have been inseparable ever since — despite never having even lived on the same continent.

From the first moment, we understood each other — it’s just that simple when you connect with someone in that way. Our friendship has set the standard for what I look for in any new relationship. We have always been respectful, kind, empathetic and real with one another.

In New York, he created three ballets for me while dancing for New Chamber Ballet, and a fourth we performed together at my farewell performance. With every new creation came a painful process — I wanted to dance his steps to their fullest extent and represent my dear friend’s work to its full brilliance, because I cared about him and believed in him.

I learned a lot about myself as a dancer and as a person in those rehearsals; some days were filled with tears and some with joy — but I felt more alive than ever when the performance came and I was able to share it all with the audience. This week, we get to share the stage once again.

Now I am fortunate enough to run a company of passionate young dancers right here in Tahoe City. The process of training and mentoring these dancers has meant exposing them to the artists that had an impact on my career and artistic life. In turn, the guest artists I have brought here are always inspired by what we’ve started here, and a room of eager students.

Costya and I created the Lake Tahoe Dance Festival to share the experiences we’ve had throughout our own careers as dancers. The festival offers a fuller experience than just attending a performance.

This week, for free, you have the opportunity to walk in to our studio and be introduced to movement. You have the opportunity to converse with the artists of the festival about what you should be watching for when watching a performance.

In performances, you’ll have the chance to see new works created exclusively for the festival, as well as works by two of the most influential dance pioneers in America.

Dance has been my life, and now I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to empower the young women of our community to find themselves through our work in the studio and take it with them for the rest of their lives.


Tahoe Youth Ballet’s founding Artistic Director Christin Hanna and frequent collaborator Constantine Baecher have turned the company’s annual August performances into the inaugural Lake Tahoe Dance Festival, Aug. 14-16.

The festival has partnered with the North Lake Tahoe Historical Society and will feature two main stage performances at the Gatekeeper’s Museum, and three days of free classes, meet-the-artist events, and demonstrations throughout Tahoe City.

Guest artists include Baecher, Kristina Berger of Erick Hawkins Dance Company, and Yannis Adoniou’s Kunst-Stoff from San Francisco. For information and tickets, visit

Christin Hanna is the founding Artistic Director of Tahoe Youth Ballet, presenting the Lake Tahoe Dance Festival this Wednesday through Friday with performances at Gatekeeper’s Museum and free events throughout Tahoe City.

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