A Well-Traveled Ballerina Returns to Colorado and Dances Into a New Life at The Lakes

Published: July 11, 2018

Nancy’s first introduction to ballet was at age 3. Her older sister started in the founding time of Colorado Ballet in Denver and used to bring Nancy along to the studio. She immediately fell in love with the art. For Nancy, it was an escape to a magical world. While Nancy had a variety of interests and was very athletic growing up, she kept coming back to ballet. She started training with the Colorado Ballet Academy and Company at age 5 and advanced into the corps-ballet before becoming a soloist. Unfortunately, in her family, being a professional dancer was frowned upon so she went to the University of Northern Colorado to get a “real” degree.

Nancy set aside dance and graduated from college with a degree in elementary education and a minor in physical education. After college, she moved to Phoenix and started substitute teaching, but soon after she knew it just wasn’t for her. Dance was still her one true love. Nancy took her teaching training, merged it with dance and started her life-long work to bring ballet to the lives of students across the country. It was also the start of a very exciting life full of change.

Nancy’s adventure started with moving back to Colorado. Nancy had always wanted to ski, but when she was part of Colorado Ballet she was not able to because of the risk of injury. She opened a studio in Steamboat Springs where she could hit the slopes and teach ballet at the same time. She started working with ski jumpers, figure skaters and gymnasts using ballet as a foundation for training. She even worked with Olympic athletes.

Nancy was young and adventurous so when a friend was moving to the U.S. Virgin Islands, Nancy packed her bags and found a new teaching job in St. Croix. After spending some time on the island, Nancy decided she wanted to work in the film business, and there’s no better place than Los Angeles. For eight years she had an incredible experience working in advertising at 20th Century. While Nancy loved working with some of the world’s most talented people she grew tired of the stressful city life and she wanted to go back to teaching dance.

In the early 90s, Nancy moved back to Denver and started teaching with the Colorado Ballet Academy, where her ballet journey first began. Shortly after moving to Denver she learned there was a lack of art and culture programs in the local schools. Dance was so instrumental in Nancy’s life she wanted to provide children with the same opportunities she had. So, she started her nonprofit DanceOut Academy Productions. With the help of Colorado Ballet, she worked in more than 20 schools to teach school-aged children ballet.

She loved her work, but keeping Nancy in one place for long wasn’t easy. She moved back to California where she opened her own studio, Ballet Allegro Academy in Sonoma County, and directed 12 performances. While in the Bay Area, she taught scholarship students with the San Francisco Ballet Academy and also started an after-school program, similar to the one she started in Denver, at over 30 schools. She spent 16 years in California before Colorado started calling her back. Nancy loved her wanderlust life, but Colorado has always been home. She decided to move back to Colorado and settled in Centerra three years ago where she now plans to stay for good.

Yes, Nancy has lived in some incredible places and has lived an exciting life, but there’s something about Centerra that captured her heart. She loves the diversity of people here, access to nature and the convenience of having everything she needs right in her neighborhood. But what has really captured her is the vibrant small-town arts community. It’s a community where Nancy can do what she does best: teach ballet through her nonprofit DanceOut Academy Productions.

Nancy works with students from age 8 to 78 throughout Loveland. It doesn’t matter age, experience or ability, she loves working with her students and seeing the light in their eyes when they hear the music and start to dance. It’s those special moments that keep her going in her very busy life. Currently, Nancy is teaching two sections of ballet at Loveland Classical School and an adult classical stretch and shape-up program at The Lakes at Centerra clubhouse. She also leads a dance class at Park Regency Loveland Assisted Living and a dance program at Collinwood Assisted Living and Memory Care. But Nancy doesn’t stop there, she also choreographs for adults, and organizes fundraisers for a variety of causes including breast cancer and the Wounded Warrior Project.

She loves her work through DanceOut Academy because it’s a combination of her favorite interests: ballet, teaching and helping the community. Her greatest joy is watching her students blossom into wonderful dancers. Whether it’s a young student at Loveland Classical who struggled with performing but has now become one of Nancy’s top students, or an older student at one of the senior centers who gets the biggest smile on her face when Nancy dances with her. Nancy loves working with her students and helping them become all they can be while providing them with an outlet to increase the quality of their lives. Her motto is, you perform what you practice.

After all the practices and lessons, Nancy’s favorite part is seeing all of her student’s work come together into a spectacular performance. Loveland Classical does two performances a year, and while Nancy has incredible help from the music director and parents, she wears all of the hats to coordinate the show: costumes, makeup, choreography, stage management, scenery, lighting, everything. Nancy loves the challenge. She is a firm believer that you have to challenge yourself because no one is going to do it for you, and challenging yourself is key to the ballet discipline.

Before Nancy’s students go on stage she always says, “let’s go make the magic happen.” And that’s exactly what Nancy does whenever she walks into a studio, classroom or retirement home. She brings the magic of dance to people lives.