As a child Gina Hill, then Gina Lopez, danced her way through Carson City.
“It was all I ever knew, really,” she said.
She was a regular in a floor show in a Mexican restaurant in the former Silver City Mall — where Lowe’s now stands. Earning her Screen Actors Guild card, she also starred in a McDonald’s commercial that ran annually.
“It was one that kept coming back on,” she said. “I got the residual checks for 10 years.”
It was that foundation, she said, which launched a ballet and jazz career that took her across the country and around the world.
And, now — as the executive director of the Brewery Arts Center — right back to where she started.
“I did shows here as a little kid,” Hill recalls. “I’ve got pictures of myself dancing in the Black Box Theater.”
After graduation from Carson High School, Hill attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and began dancing professionally for local and industrial shows in Las Vegas her sophomore year.
“It was the best way I knew to make a living,” she said.
She went on to study at the Broadway Dance Center in New York City and the Gus Giordano jazz dance company in Chicago.
She danced overseas in Korea and Japan before returning to Reno where she served on the board of directors for the Area 51 Dance Theater.
She taught choreography and jazz dance at University of Nevada, Reno and at Truckee Meadows Community College.
She worked as the VIP manager for Peppermill then as special events director for the El Dorado, where she oversaw celebrity golf tournaments and the annual Italian Festival.
It was there she met Ian Hill, who was the food and beverage distribution manager at the same casino, in 2000. They married that same year and shortly thereafter moved back to her hometown where they’re raising three children Nia, 13, Nadia, 11, and Kian, 9. Ian also has a daughter, Kassie, 25.
Together, the couple started and operated a performing arts high school from 2001-2004 in Reno. She served as the executive director in 2004.
She created a documentary in 2012, “Let Them Be Kids,” which has sold more than 10,000 copies across North America.
“I used equipment from the Brewery Arts Center to make that,” Hill said.
She was serving on the board of directors in September 2013 when the executive director was ousted. She was appointed interim director for six months before officially being hired.
“I’ve been involved in the Brewery Arts Center in a number of different capacities,” Hill said. “As a child and as an adult, I participated in classes. I also served on the board of directors before stepping in to this position.”
Since taking over, she said, she’s taken the center from nearly bankrupt to operating in the black. Plans for the future include a three-dimensional mural on the closed street between the main building and the Performance Hall and perhaps a music park featuring larger-than-life instruments.
She said she has seen the community step up to support the center and is committed to ensuring its success.
“The Brewery Arts Center is so important for the community,” she said. “I know how much potential it has to really make a difference. I know first-hand the benefits the arts can bring to the community.
“I know this is what Carson City needs.”