Dance director

Gina Hill

Photo By Miranda Jesch

Gina Hill took over as artistic executive director at Creative Performing Arts Center on July 1, even though she had just had her second child in under two years and was planning to stay home with her kids. Former director Tisto Chapman was returning to Los Angeles to pursue his acting career and was going to close down CPAC if Hill couldn’t take over. “I thought it was too good, and this community needed CPAC too much to have it close down.” On Oct. 9, CPAC will host Arts in Action, a jam-packed day of free classes, fun and food. For more information, call 827-2722 or visit (the new Web site will be up shortly).

Had you been involved with CPAC before being artistic director?

No, I hadn’t. I had always been a supporter. When I was at my previous project, [ICDA Charter High School’s performing arts program], we had some mutual students that would come to me and also came to CPAC, and we always kind of supported each other. I always thought it was a good thing they were doing here.

Do you know what the attendance is here?

We don’t work like a normal dance studio. … I’m more gearing it toward a New York or L.A. studio where you can just buy a package of classes and come to whatever class you want whenever you want and know that you’re going to get a great class, more like a professional studio, and we have a lot of professionals coming here because of that.

What’s the age range of people coming in?

We have some classes designed specifically for 7- to 11-year-olds and 11- to 15-year-olds, but mostly I’m geared towards the middle, high school and above age group. … A lot of students in middle or high school kind of lose interest because they don’t want to go to a place where there’s a bunch of little kids running around. So I wanted a place where the older kids could feel comfortable.

Didn’t you start the performing arts program at ICDA as well?

Yes, I did.

How did you get involved in the ICDA project?

My husband was on the board of directors originally, and they wanted to come up with another program there that would utilize the building that they had at all times, and I’ve always wanted to do a performing arts high school. My background is dance and education, so it was kind of natural. … I did my research. I traveled to Vegas and to successful performing arts programs throughout the country.

How would you describe the importance of the performing arts for students?

The performing arts are necessary to develop a well-rounded person. If students are more well-rounded in all aspects of their life, they do better at each one, and that was my whole emphasis in the high school. The arts not only remove boundaries and allow students to explore all aspects of life, but they connect them to other disciplines that they’re involved with in school, like math, reading, writing or science. They learn to comprehend in different ways.

Are you satisfied with the quantity and quality of performing arts education in Reno?

Of course not [laughs]. There needs to be more. It’s really unfortunate that the arts are the first programs to be cut in all schools, and that’s why one of the main focuses I’ve had since I took over on July 1 is to provide outreach. I have 14 different partners in the elementary and middle schools as well as the Boys and Girls Club where I send my company members to their after-school programs to teach dance training twice a week. … So I figure, if they can’t get it in school, they’re going to get it after school, and we’re going to provide it.