We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicolina Lawson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nicolina, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Starting Ballet North Texas stemmed from wanting more; more opportunities to dance contemporary and classical works on top of more opportunities to choreograph and work with choreographers I love. But then it grew into so much more. When I formed Ballet North Texas there were few to no professional companies in Dallas that performed classical masterpieces, neo-classical, and contemporary work with a heavy focus on ballet. I had a desire to fill that void for myself as a dancer and choreographer. I have worked with many contemporary companies including Lines Ballet in San Francisco, but I always fall back on the classics. I love tutus and tiaras and pointe shoes. In the first year we were able to hire ten professional dancers and include children in many of the performances. From there I knew we would need a school to fully realize the potential of the company. North Texas Conservatory was founded with the idea that it would train dancers from a young age to one day assume the company positions of Ballet North Texas. NTC also offers music and singing classes which build on the knowledge and understanding of music for a strong diverse dancer. We have really focused on building dancers and artists from the ground up.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The short answer, everything. I always joke that it is a good thing I love what I do because I am constantly on the ‘go’. Recent retirement from dancing has lent me a little more freedom of time, but I still take class almost every day. Because we are a small organization, I wear many hats in addition to Artistic Director. I create media, keep the website up to date, write grants, teach academic classes as well as the company classes, choreograph, coordinate with project partners, organize theater schedules, and make costumes. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes of a single performance, so many people that are operating to make it magical or take you to a different world. This season has been extra busy with rescheduling and coordinating. I have a great team of people that help to make it all happen.
And then kids of course keep me extra busy. I can’t image how I could do it all without their hugs at the end of the day.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Dallas has so much to offer. I am a foodie when I am not in the studio. I love trying new restaurants and food, and I always prefer to go local. I love getting drinks at the Knife and pizzas for sure at Cane Rosso. Klyde Warren park is a must hit, and then a Ballet in the evening.. because why not?
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people that have contributed to the success of Ballet North Texas and North Texas Conservatory. Of course, my family; without them it really wouldn’t have been possible. The first year was crazy, the number of costumes that had to be made to support the ballet, rehearsals that were run, on top of taking care of my two children meant insane work hours. My husband supported me, even when it meant sewing over 150 costumes all night long and sleeping while he got the kids ready for school. My Mom being a former dancer is the Ballet Master and has a watchful eye over company classes and choreography. And my Dad built every single one of our sets and props that hit the stage. Anna Sessions jumped right in as Associate Artistic Director, even taking on some of the sewing during our crazy first Nutcracker. And now is the Director of North Texas Conservatory managing all the students and staff that make our operation continue to run smoothly. And the dancers. Each dancer plays the largest roll in making the company a success. They are the ones on stage dancing their hearts out. They are the ones that the audience sees and falls in love with dance over.
DFW Dance Photography