Founder and Artistic Director of Nolte Academy, Leslie Nolte has emerged as an innovator in arts education in the Iowa City creative community for two decades. Under her direction, Nolte Academy has become a premiere arts program with 30 specialized instructors and 1,100 students. As part of Kennedy Center's Ensuring the Arts for Any Given Child program, Ms. Nolte brings workshop dance instruction to area schools with lower socioeconomic status, helping to guarantee access and equity to the arts for all students. Ms. Nolte is also a guest lecturer at The University of Iowa Tippie College of Business. Ms. Nolte is a busy mom of five who also finds time to act in local theatre, teach Pilates at her studio, support various arts endeavors and deepen her personal yoga practice.
Mauro Villanueva is a Ballet Director at Nolte Academy. He grew up in San Antonio, Texas. At age nine, he joined the Incarnate Word Ballet School and attended Joffrey Texas in the summers. In 1998, he attended a summer course and consequently studied for two years at the Nutmeg Conservatory in Connecticut. In 2000, Mr. Villanueva joined the Joffrey Ballet. During his thirteen years at the Joffrey Ballet, he danced many ballets by world-renowned choreographers, was a union representative and was one of two dancers chosen to participate in the search for Joffrey’s new artistic director. Mauro is also a répétiteur for The Gerald Arpino Foundation. This was Mr. Villanueva’s second year directing Joffrey Texas.
Rylee Villhauer is Co-Director of Affect Dance Company. She received her BA in Dance Studies and a BA in Enterprise Leadership from the University of Iowa in 2019. Rylee began taking creative movement at Nolte Academy when they opened in 2000 and danced there until she graduated high school. She began teaching at Nolte Academy her senior year of high school. Throughout her time dancing at Nolte, she participated in many years of Nutcracker, Alice in Wonderland, Spring showcases and many outreach events. She was an active participant on Nolte’s competitive dance team for eleven years and has many award-winning solos, duets/trios and group dances. She was on Iowa City West High’s Varsity dance team all four years of high school and is currently one of the Liberty High School Varsity dance team coaches. She teaches jazz and contemporary and loves connecting with students of all ages.
Kristen DeGrazia is in her third year with Nolte Academy teaching Voice, Acting and Musical Theatre. Before moving to Iowa, Kristen enjoyed a long career performing on Broadway in such shows as Les Misérables, Sunset Boulevard and Side Show. She spent several years performing with theatres in Chicago, and since moving to this area has performed with University of Iowa Summer Rep, Riverside Theatre, The Old Creamery Theatre and City Circle Acting Company. Kristen holds a B.F.A in Musical Theatre from the University of Michigan.
mia fryvecind gimenez
Mia's passion for the performing arts began when she was a young girl. Her grandfather, a respected music teacher, began training her in all aspects of performing arts. Mia's career started in Iowa and took her to Chicago and eventually the West Coast. Along the way, Mia was honored to work with great teachers, conductors, directors and performers from institutions and theater companies across the globe including Theatreworks, Broadway By the Bay, Julliard, Paris Opera, NYC Opera, Chicago Lyric and the Metropolitan Opera.
Mia has been on the direction teams for Nolte's School of Rock, James and the Giant Peach and Side Show. She regularly consults as music director and/or vocal coach and continues to appear in principle roles in productions throughout the Corridor, including Nolte Productions (Rock of Ages), City Circle (Sweeney Todd), Revival (Chaplin the Musical) and the University of Iowa (Fun Home and Sunday in the Park with George). Mia is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) and is an adjudicator for the Iowa High School Music Association. She teaches Musical Theatre, Acting and private voice lessons at Nolte Academy.
Evan Hilsabeck is a director and arts administrator in Coralville. He is the Managing Director for the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts, home to City Circle Acting Company and Young Footliters Youth Theatre. Evan has studied theatre at Gustavus Adolphus College, The Eugene O’Neill National Theatre Institute, and the St. Petersburg Theatre Arts Academy. He also serves on the board of the Iowa Arts Council, working with national and state legislators to expand public investment in the arts.
Known as L.D., is award-winning choreographer, spoken word artist, and dance educator.
He is no stranger to the stage having performed extensively in both dance and musical theatre productions throughout the US - most notably, as an ensemble member and principal understudy of the 2011-2012 2nd National Tour of the award-winning musical In The Heights. Prior to In The Heights, Kidd was a core member of the all-male modern dance company, EDGEWORKS Dance Theater in Washington DC.
Kidd has taught and choreographed at several studios and universities throughout the US and currently serves as an adjunct professor of hip hop & tap dance at the University of Iowa.
When not teaching or choreographing, L.D. is a member of Mixed Review, a two person improv team that performs regularly at Penguin’s Comedy Club, Master of Ceremonies for private, corporate, and performance-based events, as well as a licensed massage therapist and registered yoga teacher.
He is the proud father of Myles Davis Kidd (3), Kohen Davis Kidd (1), and Kodi, his adorable Shiba Inu.
Haley is currently a senior at West High School. She began dancing with Nolte Academy when she was five years old. Since then, she’s danced in The Nutcracker and is a member of Affect, Nolte’s competition dance team. This is her first year as a part of the Nolte staff. Haley teaches tap and jazz. She enjoys sharing her passion for dance with the next generation of performing artists.
Mia is a current Dance and Exercise Science major at the University of Iowa. She is a member of the University of Iowa Dance Team, starting her third season in 2018. Mia is currently a staff member for Marching Auxiliaries, instructing drill team conventions. She has also worked alongside many local dance studio entrepreneurs, high school show choirs, and assisted professional dancers in choreographic processes, including pieces competing at the ISDTA State Competition. Mia is most excited about aiding her students in discovering their confidence, individualism, and growth in movement. This is Mia’s first year with the Nolte Academy of Dance.
Melissa L Tyler teaches modern, ballet, jazz, contemporary and musical theatre dance technique classes at the Nolte Academy. She has had the unique opportunity to train at many
prestigious institutions including The Ailey School, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Howard University, where she received her BFA in Dance Performance and Pedagogy. Melissa has
been blessed with the opportunity to perform around the world and to work with many modern, broadway, jazz, ballet and contemporary artists and companies. She enjoys sharing her performing experiences and love of dance with her students.
Jim is a professional actor, singer and theatrical technician. He spent the past five years as a full-time actor and technician at The Old Creamery Theatre in Amana working on more than 40 productions. Jim graduated from Marietta College with a BFA in theatre. Other local theatre credits include Mirrorbox Theatre (lighting designer) and Cornell College (shop carpenter). He has also worked in TV on Fox's Sleepy Hollow and CBS's Under the Dome.
Sarah Barragán is a Ballet Director at Nolte Academy. She founded City Ballet of Iowa where for the last 10 years she has offered private/semi-private ballet instruction and mentorship. Her students have joined companies such as the New York City Ballet, Orlando Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Nimbus Dance Company, and performed in Billy Elliot and On the Town on Broadway. Her students have received scholarships to prestigious institutions such as the School of American Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, LINES, Houston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Boston Ballet. Sarah completed her ballet training at the School of American Ballet, the official school of the New York City Ballet. Her early training was with Jon Rodriguez and the Dayton Ballet School in Ohio. Sarah has a Bachelor of Science in Ballet from Indiana University, and a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Dance from the University of California, Irvine. She previously taught at the Maple Conservatory in Irvine, and was the Artistic Director of the UI Youth Ballet before founding CBI. Sarah is an ABT® Affiliate Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 7 and Partnering of the ABT® National Training Curriculum and has successfully presented students for examinations since 2011.
Natalie Anderson began dancing at the age of three at Sandy’s School of Dance in Union City, Indiana. After studying ballet, tap and jazz for 16 years, she attended Ball State University in Muncie, IN. and majored in dance performance. While attending college, Natalie continued choreographing for her studio along with choreographing competition routines for area schools.
After graduating college, Natalie returned to Union City and worked closely with her high school dance team. In 2011, she took home top honors after her choreography was selected for “Best Pom Visuals” at the EDA Nationals in Myrtle Beach, SC.
Natalie and her husband relocated to Iowa in 2011 and she began teaching at Nolte Academy. After a brief move to Indiana in 2016, she has returned to Nolte and is excited to continue working with our amazing students, staff and families.
Originally from Iowa City, IA, Lauren trained largely under Grace and Tad Snider, as well as Leslie Nolte before studying at the Joffrey Academy of Dance in Chicago. Her training through the years was supplemented at many summer intensive programs at Houston Ballet, Texas Ballet Theater, and later on scholarship in Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Paris, and Oklahoma City. In 2016 Lauren graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Oklahoma with a Major in Ballet Pedagogy, Minor in French, Emphasis in Costume Design, and Pilates Instruction Certification (through the PhysicalMind Institute). Currently in her third season as a dancer at Ballet Quad Cities, Lauren spends her off-season creating costumes for theatrical productions--notably Houston Ballet’s Nutcracker in 2016-- as well as her time through the year teaching and choreographing when not dancing herself. Lauren is quite excited to be back at Nolte, teaching, rehearsing, and costuming the next generation of students.
Callee is currently studying at the University of Iowa to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance Studies with a minor in Communication Studies. Callee began her dance training at the Nolte Academy at the age of four, over her fifteen years of dancing at Nolte she participated in the Affect competition team and many annual ballet performances including The Nutcracker and Variations. During her time at the University of Iowa she has participated in performances including a reconstruction of Helioschoreographed by Martha Graham and the University’s 36th annual Dance Gala held at Iowa City’s Hancher Auditorium. She is looking forward to dancing with you this season!
Alfred L. Martin, Jr., PhD, began taking formal dance lessons in Detroit at Renaissance High School and O’Day School of Dance.
A graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy, Martin trained with Joffrey Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet before joining Ballet West as an apprentice. He has choreographed and staged ballets for Detroit Ballet Theatre, Ballet West Conservatory, Deeply Rooted Productions and Utah Ballet.
Trained in Vaganova and Balanchine ballet techniques, he has taught classes for Your Soul’s Movement, Deeply Rooted Productions, Detroit Ballet Theatre and O’Day School of Dance. Martin holds a BA in Journalism from Arizona State University, an MA in Sociology from DePaul University and a PhD in Media Studies from University of Texas at Austin. Martin is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa.
Lead Pre-School Teacher
Jenny has extensive experience working with young children and has developed her teaching skills in several arenas. Jenny worked as a paraeducator in the ICCSD and for the GWAEA working with young children with a variety of disabilities, specializing in autism and speech impairments. She also taught preschool for four years in Colorado. She loves working with children because they approach learning eagerly and are curious about the world around them. She believes kids learn best through hands on experience, and emphasizes the importance of exploration and trying new things in her classroom. She has two children, ages 7 and 10. She is known for her wonderful sense of humor and her superior baking skills. She also enjoys spending time outdoors.
Laura is originally from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She graduated from the University of Iowa in 2016 and has been working at the University of Iowa in Hawkeye Sports for 3 years. She is the Co-Director of Marketing at Nolte Academy. Her main duties include updating social media, the Nolte Academy blog - Nolte News, and developed/continues to develop the Nolte Academy website.
Molly is an Iowa native who has spent the past 15 years instructing competitive dance students across the country, is excited to be joining the staff of Nolte Academy this fall as a jazz, contemporary and Affect instructor.
Prior to returning home to Iowa, Molly worked as a core dance instructor at The Dance Shoppe in Waterford, MI. While there, Molly took pride in building the studio’s modern and jazz technique programs and had several award-winning students who held national titles, including Miss Junior Dance of America.
Before Michigan, Molly taught at Soul2Sole Dance in Buffalo Grove, IL, and The Dance Factory in Chino, CA. Molly earned a B.A. with a double major in dance and journalism from the University of Iowa. An online journalist by day, Molly has also written articles for online dance websites and Dance Teacher Now magazine.
From an early age, Molly danced competitively throughout the Midwest and earned many national and state honors. Molly lives in North Liberty with her husband, three children, a dog, three cats and 15 chickens and spends her spare time in the garden.
Kenny Borchard is Co-Director of Affect Dance Company. He is an alumni of Idyllwild Arts Academy and the University of Arizona, where he graduated cum laude with a BFA in Dance. Mr. Borchard has worked on television and commercial projects including a featured role on TruTV’s Fake Off, What Not to Wear, Toyota Prius, Mobbed and Lifetime’s Petals on the Wind. He has traveled the world performing Stage and Screen, a jazz broadway revue show. His company credits include Odyssey Dance Theatre, Solevita Dance Company, Pacific Festival Ballet and Pasadena Dance Theatre. Mr. Borchard was also a cast member of “Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular” at Disney’s California Adventure. Mr. Borchard has taught at many of the top conservatories of Southern California and the TriState area. He is on faculty at Joffrey Texas, a summer dance intensive established by Robert Joffrey. Mr. Borchard also develops and publicizes dance-related events. He was the social media director for Los Angeles Dance Festival. Mr. Borchard is social media advisor for Joffrey Texas and has worked with the director to develop new programs that better serve the students.
Abby is a Stott Pilates trained reformer teacher, a 200 hour certified yoga teacher and lifelong dancer. Her extensive study of anatomy and focus on establishing a healthy movement foundation for each student is reflected in her teaching. Good music, emphasis on proper breathing and instruction in mindful awareness contribute to an overall experience of well-being that extends beyond the studio and into daily life.
Jody Dombrowski received his dance education from the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he was the resident choreographer for the Zodiaque Dance Company. Jody was principle dancer and choreographer with the Zodiaque Dance Company, principle dancer with the Greater Buffalo Opera Company and has danced and choreographed for many televised events. Jody’s love for dance has taken him across the United States, Canada and the Bahamas judging for major competitions and teaching at many conventions and workshops. He has also had the privilege to choreograph for many competitive studios and loves sharing his knowledge and passion for dance. His students have won top honors at regional and national levels of competition. Many are dancing professionally in touring companies, on Broadway, with cruise lines, and doing television and movie work throughout the world. He has also been awarded numerous choreography awards for his unique style and creativity. Jody has choreographed opening numbers for Dance Masters of America, where he is also a member, and opening numbers for many national finals. His skills and knowledge of all forms of dance make him a sought-after judge, teacher and choreographer.
Katy Hahn (formerly Katy Slaven) is in her third year teaching courses in acting, voice, and musical theatre at Nolte Academy. Other Iowa theatre teaching experience includes the University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa, Coe College, Hawkeye Community College, North Iowa Area Community College, and Theatre Cedar Rapids. Katy also works as a professional actor, director, and dialect coach, most recently with Riverside Theatre, Working Group Theatre, Mirrorbox Theatre, and Revival Theatre Company. She has an MFA in Acting from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL. For more about her professional experience in theatre and education, visit katyhahn.com.
Music has always played an important part in Betsy's life. Some of her earliest memories are of going to the orchestra with her father and listening to, singing with, and moving to the music around her. Betsy started performing (dance and voice) at the age of 6 and started taking piano at the age of 8. Throughout high school and college she pursued her music interests through private instruction and choral venues and has toured nationally and internationally with a cappella choirs. After college, she continued to sing with auditioned and non-auditioned choirs in Philadelphia, PA and Nashville, TN. Betsy taught music K-6 in the Nashville, TN area for 6 years before moving to Iowa City, where she taught music for 2 years at the Prairie Green School. Betsy has been a part of the Performing Arts Preschool faculty since 2013. Teaching music has been a natural fit for Betsy, allowing her to share her passion for music with children.
Performing Arts Pre-School Art Teacher
Kyle is a practicing artist with twenty years of art teaching experience. Because of her delight in young children and her passion about art, Kyle has focused specifically on early childhood art education. She has extensive experience designing and teaching art lessons to preschoolers in the classroom, and additionally in art clubs, art camps, and museum education programs. Kyle has an MFA in drawing from the New York Academy of Art, and a BA in studio art from the University of Puget Sound. Kyle runs her own photography business and is also working on her next illustration book. She has self published two books, Maezie’s Pumpkin Patch in 2014 and You Are Loved in 2016. In her free time she can be found outside among the trees, water, and sand with camera or pencil in hand.
Beth is committed to sharing her passion for health and fitness with the Iowa community and has been training people of various ages, backgrounds and physical abilities for the past 14 years. In addition to being a certified STOTT Pilates mat instructor, group fitness instructor, water aerobics instructor, and spin instructor, she is the owner and head personal trainer of BePureFit Training. Beth received her Bachelors in Exercise Science from the University of Northern Iowa.
Beth is a proud momma of two beautiful children. When she isn't spending time with her kiddos or teaching, you can find her trying new workouts, hiking, paddle boarding, or doing yoga and pilates.
Beth loves creating a full body workout class atmosphere that is challenging, open to all abilities, adaptable, full of energy and enjoyable.