Ballet school prepares for fall classes

After the spring production of “Swan Lake” and full summer classes, The Louis Nunnery School of Ballet in downtown Hickory is ready to welcome new students in August. To prepare for new and returning students the school is hosting a special open house event on Saturday, Aug. 3 from 12-3 p.m.
During the event all three of the school's instructors will be there to answer any questions. Guests can also peruse photos of past performances and enjoy light refreshments.

The school will also have a class demonstration for guests to watch. The instructors, Gretchen Wilson, Rachel Riddle and Babbie Bolick all danced for Louis Nunnery as children.              

The classes offered in the fall range from children's classes to senior exercise classes. During the open house interested guests can register for a spot in a fall class. Class registration forms and code of conduct forms will be available to fill out. Visitors can also discuss and pick up class schedules for the fall. The classes are $45 a month for unlimited classes. Classes are scheduled for Monday through   Thursday and the instructors are prepared to schedule more classes as interest arises. The school is also excited to announce students will also get to learn from guest artists. The guest classes will come with an additional charge, and would be once a month.

All three instructors studied and teach the Vaganova method of ballet, a Russian technique. The training system is designed to involve the whole body in every movement, with equal attention paid to the upper body, legs and feet. Vaganova believed that this approach increases consciousness of the body, thus creating a harmony of movement and greater expressive range.

Wilson will be one the instructors, teaching at the school starting this fall. After Louis’s passing, Wilson made the successful transition from professional ballet dancer to instructor. Through her inspiration and love of dance, Wilson worked tirelessly to carry on Nunnery’s passion and love of dance and successfully produced and directed “Swan Lake.” Her professional achievements have included dancing with the Tarheel Ballet, the Atlanta Ballet and the Charlotte Regional Ballet. Even as a seasoned professional, Wilson continued to work closely with The Louis Nunnery School of Ballet by participating in regional and community performances to inspire others (both women and men) to dance. Wilson professionally trained at the NC School of the Performing Arts and has been a student at The Louis Nunnery School of Ballet since the age of nine.

Bolick began dancing with  Nunnery as a child. She was a member of one of Nunnery’s first classes in Hickory. During high school, she was chosen to attend the N.C. Governor’s School held at Salem College to study ballet with Richard Englund and Vinnie Fredericks. After that she danced for several summers in the Outdoor drama ‘Horn in the West’ in Boone. She began teaching ballet in her teens by assisting Nunnery with his childrens’ classes and also helped with his adult ballroom classes. As an adult, she established her own ballet schools in Lenoir, Morganton and Granite Falls. In Hickory she joined the faculty of the Suzuki School of the Arts as ballet instructor.

Riddle began studying classical ballet intensively with Nunnery at age 10, continuing until leaving Hickory for college. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Theatre Arts and Dance from East Carolina University and earned K-12 NC Teacher Certification in Dance Education from UNC Charlotte. Her teaching experience includes working with all ages of girls and boys, from preschoolers to adults. Riddle has taught Creative Dance, Pre-Ballet, Ballet, Contemporary/Modern Dance, Musical Theatre and Jazz in spaces as varied as private studios, community theatres, universities and public school classrooms. She was the first dance educator hired by Catawba County Schools, and was the teacher and owner of a Creative Movement/Pre-Ballet school for several years.

For more information about the registration process, classes or the open house, call 828-896-7163 or 704-430-8871.