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Reno Jazz Orchestra recreates 1930s music, dance during Artown concert (sponsored)


The Reno Jazz Orchestra will present a free big band music and dance production in partnership with Artown 2023 on July 29 at the J Resort in Reno, Nevada. During the two-hour performance of “Hot House, One Night at the Savoy,” the Reno Jazz Orchestra will capture the character of nightclubbing in the 1930s. 

As part of the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival’s Showcase Series, the same show will be performed on July 31 on the Warren Edward Trepp, Jr. stage at Sand Harbor State Park in Incline Village. Seats range from $32 – $100 for this show and can be purchased at RenoJazzOrchestra.org.

“We are excited to present a big band production that recreates the atmosphere of New York’s famous Savoy Ballroom,” said Tim Young, Executive Director of the Reno Jazz Orchestra. “Throughout the show, performers will bring to the stage music and dance from the Savoy including the Shim Sham and the Tranky Doo, swing’s biggest dance moves driven by the orchestra’s big, bold, hot swing tunes of Goodman, Basie, Webb and other jazz greats.”

The Savoy Ballroom was one of many Harlem hot spots along Lenox Ave back in the day (1926 – 1958), but it was called the “World’s Finest Ballroom.” Harlem’s famous signature cultural dance of the Lindy Hop was perfected there where patrons were judged on their dancing skills and not on the color of their skin. Unlike many ballrooms during its day, the Savoy always had a no-discrimination policy where interracial dancing was welcomed. The clientele was 85% Black and 15% Caucasian, although sometimes there was an even split.  

Throughout the upcoming Reno Jazz Orchestra shows, professional dancers Ben White and Mindy Barnhart will recreate the legendary cultural scene of the Savoy Ballroom. They will also offer free Lindy Hop dance lessons starting at 6:30 pm on stage. Everyone is welcome. Both shows start at 7:30 pm.

Ben White has been addicted to all things swing since 2004. He has studied Lindy Hop, Balboa, Tap, and Solo Jazz dance under masters from the original swing era and worked with world-class contemporary swing dancers. He has coached and competed in The International Lindy Hop Championships, the National Jitterbug Championships, Camp Jitterbug and many more. White has also been involved in more than 100 productions as a performer, producer, choreographer, and technician and frequently shares Lindy Hop with students all over the world.

Mindy Barnhart began Swing dancing in 1997 and in 2005, quit her day job to dance full-time at Stumptown Dance in Portland, Oregon. She has devoted herself to being the best instructor, setting a high standard for fun, safety and integrity. Barnhart has entered various competitions for fun and has claimed several awards as both a follower and a leader. Her favorite moments on the social dance floor are when she and a partner create something surprising or extremely well-connected out of a mistake. As an instructor, her favorite moments are when she gets to witness dancers’ lives being changed for the better in moments of new understanding and achievement.

Vocalists Aria Lynn and David Hayes will add to the artistic representation of what life was like at The Savoy back in the 1930s.

As a vocalist and popular entertainer, David Hayes has performed in shows such as Reflections of the Rat Pack, Escape with David Hayes, Work That Skirt and American Superstars. He was awarded “Best Performer in a Production Show” four out of five years by Fun & Gaming Magazine, sharing that accolade one year with the cast as “Best Act.” An accomplished comedian and emcee, Hayes has opened for and worked with such greats as George Lopez, The Temptations, The Four Tops, KC & The Sunshine Band, Herbie Hancock, Tower of Power, and Florence Henderson. He worked the comedy circuit including the Improv, in, amongst others, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Reno, and Atlantic City, with clean, entertaining humor. Other venues involve the major cruise lines and private and corporate conventions.

Since studying voice at the University of Nevada Reno, Aria Lynn has been a principal singer for the shows “Decadence” and “Essence” and performed at the famous “Sammy’s Showroom” in Harrah’s Casino in Reno, Nevada. She has also performed as a soloist and background vocalist with a variety of groups including the Reno Jazz Orchestra. Aria Lynn’s passion for music has led her to work as a public and private Music Educator.

RJO Fundraising Option

Reno Jazz Orchestra is offering a VIP Fundraising option during the July 29 performance at J Resort. You can support the non-profits’ education and performance programs and reserve your table for two for $250.  The donation purchase includes optional pre-show Lindy Hop dance lessons, wine, beer or sparkling water, and VIP seating at cocktail tables on the Dance Floor. A portion of the ticket purchase is tax-deductible. See all the details at RenoJazzOrchestra.org.

About the Reno Jazz Orchestra (RJO)

The Reno Jazz Orchestra is a 17-piece contemporary big band in Northern Nevada. The band was formed in 1997 by musicians who performed with acts such as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Natalie Cole in the casino showroom orchestras. Currently, the band is comprised of highly skilled veteran musicians as well as graduates from the University of Nevada, Reno’s jazz program. The orchestra has recently featured such guest artists as Kurt Elling, Patti Austin, Ernie Watts, and Dianne Schuur. 

The EL Cord Foundation, Nevada Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works, Thunder Rand & Co., Tanglewood Productions, City of Reno, Absolute Music, This is Reno, GPS Wealth Advisors and the RJO Circle of Friends, Band Partners and Band Fans support the Reno Jazz Orchestra.

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