Setting the stage: A long-held dream of a collaborative performing arts center is becoming a reality

When former professional prima ballerina Rosine Bena founded Sierra Nevada Ballet (SNB) in Reno in 2001, she set a lofty goal: teaming up with other local performing arts organizations in the area, thereby amplifying each other’s work and promotional efforts.  

But in the early 2000s, small, local companies tended to operate within siloes, focusing more on growing their own audiences than partnering with perceived competitors—so Bena quietly nursed her ambition to someday create a performing arts collective and hoped the right partner to help achieve that vision would come along.  

Finally, in mid-2023, that happened. 

SNB board member Dr. Jayson Weir, an internal-medicine physician, was aware of Bena’s dream and introduced her to Lamis Pritchard, who, along with her husband, Arlen, have owned the Steinway Piano Gallery of Reno at 500 E. Moana Lane for the past 18 years. For both women, it was an instant meeting of the minds. 

“We’ve been by ourselves in this complex for a long time, and I’ve always been like, ‘Who’s going to be our neighbor?’ Every time they showed the property to another potential tenant, I always held my breath,” Lamis said. “Then I met Rosine, and I thought, ‘Finally! That is a great marriage.’ Exchanging students and business … it made sense.” 

Said Bena: “It was an immediate connection. Her vision was the same as ours, so we started moving forward.” 

Of course, no such collective would be complete without the “triple threat”: song, dance and theater. Janet Lazarus, co-founder and artistic director of Sierra School of Performing Arts (SSPA), had coincidentally been hunting for a new space for her theater company/academy. Situated in a warehouse space on Greg Street in Sparks without climate control, SSPA was in desperate need of a more accessible, functional space. Not only that, but teaming up with a dance troupe made good sense for a theatrical company that frequently performs musicals. When Lazarus got wind of Bena’s plan, she wanted in. 

“The opportunity to collaborate with them, and especially to bring our youth together, is very exciting,” said Whitney Hovenic, president of SSPA’s board of directors. “We have performers who want to be dancers, and there are dancers who may want to perform in musical theater, so I think it’s going to be a really nice synergy and will open up doors for young performers in our community.” 

The space next door to Steinway had formerly housed several furniture stores. The deal was secured thanks to the Pritchards’ strong relationship with their longtime landlord, Bena’s clear vision for the space and willingness to pay for its renovation, and Arlen Pritchard’s convenient occupation as contractor with Pritchard Construction. By January of this year, the work of creating the Northern Nevada Performing Arts Collective was underway. 

The almost-$200,000 renovation has been possible thanks to architectural design donated by George Ghusn of BJG Architecture & Engineering, an early anonymous donation of $50,000, a GoFundMe campaign created by Bena, and a small percentage contributed by the property’s owner. Completion is expected in April. The new facility will host administrative offices for SNB and SSPA as well as a small and large studio for each company. SNB’s dance spaces are equipped with sprung floors topped with Marley, for maximum safety.  

Additionally, Silver State Storytellers, a filmmaking company created by Lyric Burt and Taylor Wilson, will occupy space in the building for recording and editing. Dr. Weir, along with Dr. Carrie Cameron of Healthy Performers NV, an organization providing health care for performing artists, will call the NNPAC home, too. Even Satori Dancewear will maintain a booth there and provide once-a-month pointe-shoe fittings. 

The renovations will include upgraded bathrooms, new dressing rooms, mirrors and other construction costs. Bena also aims to welcome visual artists to display work in the new facility’s lobby. 

Additionally, the empty space on the opposite side of the Steinway Gallery, formerly home to Pacific Sun Tanning, is now part of the NNPAC plan; it will eventually become a performance hall, making 500 E. Moana Lane a one-stop shop for performing arts education, rehearsals and performances—with ample parking for audience members. 

At the time of this writing, the NNPAC is still under construction, and the Pritchards have generously opened the Steinway Gallery to Bena’s dance company; SNB currently operates out of Steinway, with its recital hall and former storage room temporarily hosting ballet classes. SSPA aims to take residence by mid-April. 

As not only a piano dealership, but also a music performance space and a home to piano classes for both youths and adults, Steinway will partner closely with the NNPAC occupants. Bena said plans for a free-to-the-public grand opening celebration on June 2 will include collaborative performances, including dancers surrounded by 10 piano accompanists and theatrical scenes by SSPA performers, with visual art and a film by Silver State Storytellers on display.  

“The best thing about this collaborative is that we’re putting our brains together and coming up with all kinds of new ideas,” Hovenic said. “A very simple conversation can translate into something we’ve all been wanting to do but didn’t individually have the resources, but now we can pull those resources together and make magic.” 

To learn more or contribute to the NNPAC GoFundMe campaign, visit