Music, Art and Dance: This Fresno Venue Is Cool

Music, Art and Dance: This Fresno Venue Is Cool
Image by Andrea Balducci via Flickr Creative Commons

By Simone Whalen-Rhodes

As I walk into Jasmine La Caris and her husband Omar Nare’s studio, I immediately know this place is cool. It’s a reminder of downtown lofts, with age and character imprinted into its walls. The red bricks chip away at certain places, and the multiple story high ceiling allows for amazing pieces of art to be shown off here. La Caris says, “Why not try to make community art grow in Fresno.” And luckily this couple has just the big spacious downtown location to display many forms of community art.

Five hundred to a thousand people come through this location for ArtHop, which is the first Thursday of every month from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Caris School of Dance has free dance performances for ArtHop on the top of every hour. “One of our goals for this space is to use it as an all-age venue. We are a theater, not a bar,” remarks Nare as we discuss some of the recent events at the venue.

Although the venue’s vastness may be intimidating, he assures me that the performances are intimate. Just last month, a world-famous flamenco dancer came to the studio. There is no raised stage, so people were right next to him as he danced. You could feel the vibrations and air move from this performance. People feel like they can be more involved here.

On April 5, the studio is having a Balkan/Turkish performance by a famous dance troop from San Francisco. The music is amazing party music, and La Caris says, “When you listen to it you can’t sit down!” If you enjoy dancing and hearing great world music, I bet you would enjoy the performances offered at Caris’s studio. But don’t forget to buy your tickets early. The last performance here was sold out, and they had to turn people away. You can buy tickets to this show at

The Caris School of Dance offers training in modern, contemporary dance, choreography and flamenco. They also offer special workshops with guest artists and many other events. They plan to bring many different kinds of acts to the venue including Irish clogging, African bands and belly dancing. Their calendar can be viewed at


Simone Whalen-Rhodes is an engaged member of the local music scene. Contact her at


  • Community Alliance

    The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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