Matilda Mackey is currently in her third year at The Juilliard School, where is she is studying vigorously in various dance classes. Those classes include ballet, modern, improvisation, composition, contemporary partnering, and contact improvisation.
Between academic classes, rehearsals for a repertory show called Spring Dances, rehearsals for a student-choreographed show called Senior Production, and Independent Workshop rehearsals, Matilda is also working on three work-study jobs. This schedule constantly demands Matilda to be efficient with time and organized with details.
“Nolte helped prepare me to stay on my toes regardless of how packed my schedule is because I was always performing in tons of competition, recital and gala pieces” Said Matilda, “At Nolte, I challenged myself to embark on numerous dance journeys at once, which then gave me the tools to follow through with the commitments I made for myself.”
Matilda attended Nolte Academy from the age of two. “I always felt at home at Nolte,” she said, “partly because dance itself is home to my body and mind but also because I grew up with Leslie and the other dancers who became some of my closest friends regardless of our current life paths.”
Through her fifteen years dancing at Nolte Academy Matilda says she was able to realize her self worth as a dancer. She says that because she was so deeply connected with her teachers and friends at the studio, they helped give her the confidence to embark on any journey she’d dream up.
“Nolte propelled me into the concert dance world through its care for high-caliber training on a truly loving level. I am forever grateful for my experiences at the studio.”
A note from Matilda to Nolte Academy Dancers:
"My biggest piece of advice for young dancers is to focus on what ignites you as a dancer. I think it is important for dancers, especially younger ones, to question their craft to discern what they’re truly passionate about within it. Once you’ve discovered what drives your love for dance, lean into that and focus on it, whether that means taking as many classes in that realm as you can or paving your own path to bring more oxygen to that flame. For example, I found my love for improvisation after I spent years pushing myself to dive into the seemingly fearful realm of reckless abandonment within improvisation. Now, improvising turns my switch on in the molecular level, and I am immensely thankful that I took the time to uncover what speaks to me most profoundly as a dancer.”
A fond memory of Nolte Academy:
“I have a funny memory passed down to me from Leslie and my parents from when I was quite literally a baby at Nolte. We were back at the old studio, Leslie had just freshly opened her business, and I was two years old. As a kid, I had a mischievous desire to hide all the time. Regardless the circumstance, regardless if I knew somebody knew where I was hiding, I wanted to hide in every nook and under every chair. So, I hid behind a giant fish tank Leslie had in the studio lobby after classes one day, and I didn’t budge despite hearing all the frantic calls for baby Matilda. Leslie was running through the studio and out onto the parking lot, utterly mortified; she had just opened the studio and she already had a lost child, not to mention what that child’s parents would say if their two year old disappeared from the studio. But, as all jokes die quickly, I decided I would pop up from behind the fish tank and voila, all is well! Needless to say, Leslie and everyone helping to search for me didn’t think my cute hiding ploys were as funny as I did.”
We are thrilled to announce the dates and important information for our Spring Recitals! There is a wealth of information in this post, so please read it carefully and let us know if you have any questions!
Creative Movement Recitals will be Saturday, May 25 at Nolte Academy. Time TBD.
Vocal & Acting Showcase will be Tuesday, May 28 at Coralville Center for the Performing Arts. Time TBD.
Recitals for Children’s Dance I through advanced dance classes and musical theatre will be Friday, May 31-Sunday, June 2 at Hancher Auditorium (4 different shows). Times listed below.
All students will be included in the recital unless you specifically opt-out by Saturday, December 22.
If you have a conflict or decide not to participate after this date, you will still be responsible for costume fees.
For the Nolte Treasure/Hancher recitals, class day/performance day* is as follows:
Monday classes perform Friday, May 31 at 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday and Saturday classes perform Saturday, June 1 at 1 p.m.
Wednesday classes perform Saturday, June 1 at 6:30 p.m.
Thursday classes perform Sunday, June 2 at 1 p.m.
*Level 5+ classes will be in more than one performance, to be determined.
CLICK THE PDF FILE BELOW TO FIND THE WEEKLY SCHEDULE WITH THE DAY OF PERFORMANCE HIGHLIGHTED.
Nolte families and supporters,
I can't tell you how thrilled I was with the Nutcracker performances this weekend. The students, crew and many volunteers all made a stunning weekend of performances possible. I asked everyone involved to push themselves into new territory and the result was a beautiful and spirited production. I hope the Nutcracker has kicked off your holiday season in a positive and exciting way.
We would all like to express our gratitude to each and every one of you who supported Nolte Academy over the weekend. We hope that you, your family, and your friends were able to feel the holiday magic through our performances. We would also like to extend a huge thank you to our Nolte Academy dancers, Nolte families, and members of our community who helped bring everything together.
Please click through and enjoy the following photos captured by Michael Smithey.
Below are photos taken by Angela Thompson.
1. What was the preparation like for this revamped Nutcracker?
Preparing for this took me a long weekend of doing nothing else but creating a master plan in a notebook. I watched videos, wrote down patterns and steps I enjoyed dancing myself and watching the dancers closely in class. I wanted to challenge them but also make the new choreography attainable. The production also developed as we went through the creative process. Some ideas didn’t work and some times the dancers had suggestions that were much better than mine.
2. What are some of the main differences in this Nutcracker from the traditional?
I would say this is a fairly traditional version. Though to make it enjoyable for all ages I’ve tweaked how some of the characters are perceived. Herr Drosselmeyer is not as scary and much more magical and warm. The battle scene relies less engaging in battle and more on the fact that it brings up a courage in Clara that perhaps she didn’t know was there before.
3. What are you most excited about for the first performance?
I am so excited to see it all come together! There are so many new costumes and sets, that combined with the new choreography is going to be a wonderful moment on Friday evening.
4. What do you think this story teaches kids and adults alike?
I think the nutcracker reminds us to connect with our imagination and to dream big. It teaches us that people from around the world have distinct identities and to experience those differences is exciting.
7. What do you hope the audience takes away from the Nolte Nutcracker?
Seeing the nutcracker sparked my interest in dance and so I hope there are other young people who have the same experience. Studying any art is so important to the development of children and I hope this is a launching point for more young artists.
There are many people working to make this happen, it truly takes a village and I am so thankful for everyone who has contributed time and energy.
Mairead is currently training and performing with Indiana University Ballet Theater. While she takes two academic classes in the morning, the rest of her day is occupied with pilates and technique classes then an additional class such as pointe, pas de deux or variations, then rehearsals.
"For rehearsals we usually have big rehearsals for snow and flowers as well as run-throughs."
Mairead remembers her performances in the Nolte Nutcracker as more than just a performance. "I love looking back on the fun and community feeling and friendship involved in the long tech week nights at Englert, the between show food runs, and joy of performing."
She credits Nolte for preparing her and giving her the tools and technique needed at Indiana University Ballet Theater. Her advice for current performers in the Nolte Nutcracker is to "soak up all the good times and memories and really perform for the audience and give them and yourself some Christmas ballet magic"
Gratitude is on our minds this week as we approach Thanksgiving. We give thanks for our amazing students, incredible families and dedicated staff! We wish you many moments of joy and peace as you celebrate with friends and family.
Our studio will be closed for regular classes starting Tuesday, Nov. 20 and for the remainder of the week. Regular classes resume on Monday, Nov. 26.
Next week also marks the final rehearsals for our reimagined Nutcracker. We've started taking over The Englert and are excited to watch the hard work of many during the past several months come to light. Don't miss this fantastic opportunity to kick off the holiday season -- get your tickets today!
Again, we appreciate you and all you do to make Nolte Academy a success!
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.