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Introducing ICON Arts Academy, Iowa’s Emblem-New Acting Arts Boarding Faculty, Options an Interdisciplinary Pre-Skilled Dance Curriculum


Over the 23 years that Leslie Nolte has run her Iowa Town–founded acting arts faculty, Nolte Academy, she has spotted a development: All through their teenage years, lots of her maximum devoted scholars moved out of state to wait residential, pre-professional systems—together with Nolte’s daughter, who joined Houston Ballet Academy’s reliable program at age 14. “I spotted our group had all of those belongings and benefits,” says Nolte, noting the reinforce gadget, availability of sq. photos and placement. “I knew shall we construct a faculty right here.”

Nolte joined forces with arts educator and academic psychologist Dr. Beth Brown, and for 10 years the 2 had been running aspect by way of aspect to convey their dream to existence. In August 2023, ICON Arts Academy will open its doorways to its first scholars. With Nolte as government and inventive director and Brown as curriculum and instruction director, they’ll understand their imaginative and prescient of a project-based interdisciplinary performing-arts residential highschool in Iowa Town.

“Flipping the Type”

ICON Arts Academy plans to sign up as much as 140 scholars for its inaugural yr, step by step increasing to fill its 325-student capability. ICON scholars will make a choice one among 4 majors: dance, theatre arts, song, and visible arts/design & manufacturing. Whilst the varsity will likely be ripe with alternatives for cross-disciplinary find out about and collaboration, each and every division’s curriculum has been thoughtfully advanced to verify individuals are getting the vital technical coaching and skill-building to achieve their fields.

“Our curriculum is placing the humanities first, but it surely’s no longer getting rid of the lecturers,” explains Nolte. “It’s flipping the type.” Construction on Brown’s 20-year dating with the Iowa Town Faculty District, ICON scholars will join in a web-based public highschool program. ICON’s day by day agenda will come with blocks of time put aside for each synchronous and asynchronous finding out aided by way of steerage counselors and college-aged finding out coaches in ICON’s library. “No longer most effective can we wish to give scholars the chance to achieve their goals to be a certified on a acting arts level, however we additionally need scholars to have a highschool enjoy that helps to keep them sturdy and entire, although what they would like is to transform a scientist or a math instructor,” says Nolte.

Beth Brown, ICON’s curriculum and instruction director, and Leslie Nolte, government and inventive director. Photograph courtesy ICON Arts Academy.

After honing its on-line choices all over the pandemic, the Iowa Town Faculty District is poised to supply individualized lessons of research to ICON scholars, relying on their educational targets. “Our district is in point of fact inventive and cutting edge, and they’re excited about offering alternatives that aren’t precisely the similar approach they’ve all the time been executed,” says Brown, emphasizing that Complex Placement categories can be to be had. “It’s in point of fact superb that we will have the instructional rigor, and, on the identical time, it may be totally sculpted to the learner’s wishes.”

Smartly-Rounded Dance Choices

Dance scholars at ICON can have the selection to pursue a classical or fresh observe. The varsity’s ballet mistress, Ingrid Lozano, involves Iowa from Miami. The rest of the everlasting dance positions are these days being stuffed, even though each and every semester will characteristic plenty of visitor artists introducing particular paperwork and repertoire; ICON is keen to welcome Mark Morris Dance Crew’s Brandon Cournay and Martha Graham Dance Corporate’s Lloyd Knight as visitor artists. “We’re very a lot into mindfulness and the entire self,” says Nolte when describing ICON’s dance curriculum. On a daily basis will get started with yoga or Pilates (the varsity is constructing a Pilates studio whole with a reformer, steadiness chair, spring wall and cadillac). Subsequent, scholars will take an hour and 45 mins of ballet. “We will be able to offer other ranges,” says Nolte. “We’ll have ballet categories for 14-year-olds who want to be on the Faculty of American Ballet by way of 16, and for modern dancers who don’t wish to do a complete pointe magnificence.”

Further classical choices will come with pointe method, pas de deux and permutations. Recent dancers will take classical fashionable method within the Limón and Horton ways, in addition to lyrical paperwork. “We’ll come with the fresh developments observed extra at dance competitions, however align them founded out of classical fashionable and ballet ways,” says Nolte. To that finish, dancers can have the selection to take part in Formative years The united states Grand Prix or different competitions, however live performance dance will firmly stay the focal point of ICON’s dance division. The dance curriculum may also come with dance historical past, kinesiology, anatomy, composition, level control and generating, in addition to faucet and jazz categories introduced throughout the musical theater division.

“One thing that’s distinctive at ICON is that we take into account that dancers require that day by day method and power constructing as a way to transform in point of fact nice at their craft,” explains Brown. “On the identical time, we wish our dancers to be able for as of late’s international, the place there’s a large number of self-production and collaboration.” One advantage of being a brand new faculty is that the dept can develop along side its scholars. “We don’t have those exhausting edges and borders,” says Nolte. “We’re taking a look at our pupil base and bringing to them what it’s they want or need.” The ICON workforce plans to herald heritage dance experts, relying at the scholars’ backgrounds, and hopes dancers will uncover parallel passions in disciplines like making a song or playwriting. Scholars will frequently paintings throughout departments to place on productions and create their very own paintings. “Mission-based finding out is a learner-centered method,” says Brown. “The whole lot the scholars stumble upon goes to be an unique enjoy in dating to regardless of the experience is we’re looking to construct.”

Renderings of ICON Arts Academy’s amenities. Courtesy ICON Arts Academy.

Pupil Existence

ICON’s campus is housed in north Iowa Town, break up between a theater and a faculty constructing only one block aside. Residential scholars will reside in combination in close by apartment-style housing with chaperones on an 8:1 or 12:1 ratio, relying at the scholars’ ages. ICON’s pupil existence director and her workforce had been running tirelessly to ensure that ICON’s trademark sense of care and creativity lengthen a long way past the studio. In the case of pupil existence, ICON acknowledges at the beginning the significance of protection, in addition to instructing scholars about independence, diet, psychological well being and bodily well being, says Nolte. “We’re aiming to unravel the issues young people face by the use of our reinforce gadget, ahead of they occur.” That method will come with a weekly pupil check-in with a faculty steerage counselor, day by day reference to their residential chaperone and get admission to to psychological well being pros throughout the pupil existence workforce as wanted. A bodily therapist can be to be had on web site a couple of days every week. “We’ve got the capability inside the College of Iowa campus to get them the rest they want,” says Nolte, including that very good hospitals and clinics are only some mins’ pressure clear of campus. “We’re in point of fact conserving on best of each pupil’s emotional existence on the faculty,” provides Brown.

Breakfast and lunch will likely be delivered by way of the Iowa Town Faculty District every day, and ICON could also be partnering with 15 native eating places and grocery retail outlets, in addition to a cooking faculty, which is able to help scholars in finding out elementary talents, like the best way to boil eggs or bake rooster. The scholar existence workforce is keen to combine ICON’s scholars into existence in Iowa Town, sharing the town’s vary of cultural choices. “We’re the primary acting arts boarding faculty within the state of Iowa,” says Nolte. “We all know the dangers concerned, and we perceive what it’s going to take to get households not to most effective accept as true with us, however in point of fact rejoice us.”

The best way to Audition

Fifteen-year-old Iowa Town-native Lizzie Matthes has been dancing at Nolte Academy since she was once 3 years previous, and has already dedicated to attending ICON full-time subsequent fall as a commuter pupil. Final yr, Matthes had the risk to take part in ICON Beginnings, a pilot program run by way of Nolte and Brown, and he or she was once blown away by way of the expansion she remodeled simply a short while. “We were given to do paintings with visitor academics and do choreographic workshops the place we created our personal solos, and our friends created crew dances on us, and we discovered permutations—all of these items you don’t in point of fact get to do in evening categories,” she says. “Friends and academics beginning coming as much as me and telling me that I appeared such a lot more potent. ICON in point of fact modified my dancing even in that twelve months.”

To sign up for Matthes and dancers like her, potential scholars can meet the ICON workforce on its audition excursion. Zoom and digital auditions also are to be had. Last dates and towns come with January 28: Chicago, IL; January 29: Austin, TX; February 4: Winston-Salem, NC; February 10: Des Moines, IA; February 12: Omaha, NE; February 18: Denver, CO; March 11: New York, NY; April 1: digital; April 2: digital.

ICON is enrolling incoming scholars in grades 9–12, in addition to for a gap-year possibility. scholars can sign up to audition and be informed extra about ICON’s necessities right here. “Leslie Nolte creates this kind of certain surroundings for dancers,” says Matthes. “I simply wish to be in that surroundings for so long as I will be able to, and being at ICON will permit me to spend extra time with the nice academics she brings in. I will be able to’t wait to peer what doorways it is going to open.”

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