Mia Nolte credits Nolte Academy for her strong foundation that she carries with her in pursuit of her dreams. While she skipped out on traditional schooling, she continues to take classes online in order to dedicate herself to practicing the art of dance.
“Dance taught me to be committed to something at a very early age,” Mia said.
Although Mia flourished at Nolte Academy, she remembers when she realized what it would take for her to truly succeed. “I remember being held back at level three. I learned then that if I wanted to catch up with my friends, I was going to have to work a lot harder,” Mia said, “Once I started working harder and really trying in class, I learned to fall in love with that process.”
Learning to love the process brought her the opportunities to immerse herself in many dance roles. “There are a few roles that I wish I could keep doing over and over,” she remembers. “That’s what made me feel like I could keep doing this forever.” She took that realization and made her dreams to dance forever a reality.
Mia is now dancing in Seattle, Wash. at Pacific Northwest Ballet as a professional-division student. She entered a training program in August where she’ll be training with teachers and directors while performing with the company. After her training, she’ll either continue with Pacific Northwest Ballet, or they will help her to get into another company. Throughout late November and December, Mia will be performing with Pacific Northwest Ballet in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.
“My favorite memory of Nolte Academy has to be the week of the our first Nutcracker performance,” she continued, “We spend so many hours preparing together and in that week you get so close to everyone.”
Getting close to those she performed with was extremely important to Mia. When asked what she’d miss the most about Nolte Academy, Mia’s answer was quick, “the feeling of home when you walk into a studio. All of the relationships, everyone feels like family here.”
Mia’s advice to the current dancers is three-fold: “One, do everything because versatility is important. Two, don’t compare yourself to anyone else. And, three, understand that you might have to make sacrifices to continue your dream.”
As Mia continues her dancing career, her dreams are big. “I want to change the view on dance and the ballet world,” she said, “And eventually, I want to be a principal in a company and have people know my name for making the world of dance bigger and better.”
Alumni Spotlight: Maddie Brown, Boston Ballet School, Cathryn Keith Scholar 2018-2019.
“Dancing at Nolte taught me to fall in love with something at a very young age. Most people don’t know what it’s really like to really love what they’re doing everyday,” said Maddie Brown.
Maddie is a 15 year-old Nolte Academy alum, who received a scholarship at the pre-professional level three with Boston Ballet in Massachusetts. She’s also enrolled in an online academic school.
She'll be performing with Boston Ballet in their Nutcracker this holiday season, and remembers her Nolte Nutcracker performances fondly. "I don't have just one favorite memory from the Nutcracker," she said "the whole experience was so much fun!"
Though performing on stage is her true love, Maddie cherishes the memories in in preparation for the show. "I loved hanging out with friends in the crowded dressing room and helping each other get ready while listening to Christmas music and exchanging secret Santa gifts." she remembered, "Everyone was always kind and in the holiday spirit as we worked together to show off what we had worked on all fall."
Her experience at Nolte has given her the confidence in her everyday life to do things that might be outside of her comfort zone. “The confidence I’ve gained has come from the support of the teachers and students here,” she said. “And also from all of the performance opportunities we get.”
Maddie’s love for dance started at a very young age in her first Nolte Nutcracker performance. “I was five years old and I remember having so much fun,” she said. “That’s when I got the stage bug.”
Her advice to other dancers stresses the importance of being well rounded. “Don’t quit tap!” she laughed, “Do all the styles of dance. And don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun with what you’re doing.”
Though it’s quite the trip from Coralville to Boston, Maddie is ready to make the jump with a specific goals in mind. “I want to continue to spread the Iowa love. It would be really cool to inspire people who aren’t from big cities. I want to show them that they can go on and do
Along with her dream to put Iowa dancers on the map, she also wants to change the perception of ballet and eventually become the principal of a company.
“My advice would be to work hard and be serious, but also have a good time!" said Maddie, "Enjoy being with your friends and showing all the work that has gone into the nutcracker. People look forward to this ballet all year and never forget that each show brings a smile to hundreds of peoples faces!"
Say hello to this year's Nutcracker Prince! We're so pleased to welcome Cole Vernon to the 2018 Nolte Nutcracker.
Cole, originally from Sonoma County, California, has had the pleasure of performing internationally as well as throughout the U.S. with companies such as DanceWorks Chicago, River North Dance Chicago, Ballet Hispanico in New York City and now Visceral Dance Chicago.
Cole received his BFA in Dance from the University of Arizona in 2013, having worked with the University’s incredible faculty members as well as inspiring artists from the Balanchine Trust, Larry Keigwin + Company, Ann Reinking and Gary Chryst, among others. After graduating summa cum laude and participating in Springboard Danse Montreal, he made Chicago his home base. While continuing his performance career, he also enjoys providing dance education as well as choreography for the artists of the future.
Remember to reserve your seat at the Englert this Holiday season! CLICK HERE for more information on performances.
Lauren Carmen has had her hand in The Nutcracker in various ways for years. First, she danced in Nolte’s production. Now, she dances in Ballet Quad Cities' production. As her experience comes full circle, she is also Nolte’s Nutcracker assistant director and lead costumer, updating attire for our newly reimagined production.
During this busy season, Lauren’s day begins at 6 a.m. with her own training and rehearsal. She’ll then grab a quick dinner before sewing Nolte’s costumes until well past midnight. The work doesn't stop on the weekends. On Saturdays she returns to Nolte to teach, then does more costume work for the rest of the day.
Though the hours are long, Lauren credits her Nolte Nutcracker rehearsals for her readiness to take on the professional world. "Nolte Nutcracker rehearsals gave me a taste of what life as a professional dancer would be like," said Lauren. "It showed me that indeed I did want to continue to pursue that route.”
After a year with Joffrey Chicago, Lauren attended college at The University of Oklahoma, one of the top three college ballet programs in the country. She graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2016 with a BFA in Ballet Pedagogy, minor in French, and emphasis in Costume Design.
As she prepares for her own Nutcracker performance with Ballet Quad Cities, Lauren has some advice for Nolte Nutcrackerdancers now and in the future. "No matter how 'big' or 'small' the role, you were cast as you were because someone saw something special in you,” Lauren said. “And they thought you could bring something wonderful to the part."
Lauren also advises dancers to cross-train their dance styles. “Bunheads,” she said. "Get into your modern classes! Try new things, challenge yourself, explore!"
LAUREn: Nolte academy wishes you the very best of luck in your own performance! and of course, a huge thank you for all of your hard work for nolte.
Calling all witches, super heroes, kittens, clowns, dragons, unicorns, bats, princesses and whatever else your creative kids have in mind to celebrate Halloween this year!
Halloween week starts THIS Thursday, October 25, during classes! Students are encouraged to wear their costumes. The week-long celebration concludes on Wednesday, October 31.
There will be regularly scheduled classes on Halloween. However, if you plan to miss that day in favor of Trick or Treating, please choose a class in which to make up.
When selecting costumes, please make sure they aren't too scary for our youngest students to see. We will still be moving in classes, so intermediate and advanced students should plan to have dance wear under their costumes.
We can't wait to see your kids in costume! This is one of our favorite weeks of the year!
5 Things To Know:
Leslie On Nolte Academy:
1. Why did you decide to open a dance studio?
Initially my plan was to work for one of the local studios that existed at the time. I reached out to each of them and observed their mission and instruction and in the end, didn’t feel as though any of them were current with where the artform was, nor focusing on quality instruction, so even though I was a young mother, we decided that we needed to start our own studio if we wanted to help dancers achieve their dreams.
2. How is Nolte Academy different from other dance studios?
I think there are two main differences: the first is the faculty we have recruited. Not every former dancer can be an effective teacher. Our staff has a breadth of experience but also has taken the time to learn how to properly guide and instruct our students. The other is the rigor and curriculum our dancers are exposed to. We have gotten students into Julliard, Pointe Park and similar programs because we give them the opportunities to train and perform like professionals from a very early age. Seven days a week our dancers are in here working on their craft.
3. What is your favorite part of owning Nolte Academy?
Watching our students grow as performers and people. Seeing them become confident by experiencing both the success and set backs that come with dance and theatre. Not everyone gets cast as the lead or the soloist. So how do they respond, do they pour themselves into the roles they were given and take all opportunities to grow? Another answer to this question is that I get to spend my days with so many people that dream big and be a part of making those bigs dreams come true.
4. What do you hope parents and families gain from their child attending Nolte?
In a world where parents have the best interests of their child in mind, I hope they see that our team is also committed to the long term growth and success of our students. We will challenge them, we will be honest with them and we will set high expectations of them in terms of work ethic, commitment, teamwork and communication. Art is a discipline that takes time. Not everyone is a natural, but everyone can learn how to improve and understand that correlation between their work and the results.
5. What do children gain from the art of dance?
Physically they benefit from the movement, the flexibility and the strength that develops as they dance. Emotionally they learn that engaging in the arts is a way to transcend the stresses that may be happening in school or with friends and be part of something larger than themselves. Dance is about connecting with your self and eventually to an audience, it’s a path for expression that yields happiness, confidence and satisfaction unlike anything else when done correctly. This is our goal as instructors and choreographers, to help our students find their own voice within themselves and express it through movement. And for our beginning students, its just a fun way to be part of a group, make friends and be building their self-confidence.