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School of Nashville Ballet Expands Class Schedule for Tiny Dancers

2012-01-05

New Director, Dean Lead School Growth

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Jan. 5, 2012) The School of Nashville Ballet has expanded its class schedule for its youngest dancers in a new Children’s Program to begin Jan. 17, 2012, and has announced new leadership to spearhead the expansion.

With increased date and time offerings, more children ages 2 to 6 will have the option of attending classes to develop musicality, rhythm, movement skills, coordination, artistic expression and creativity through the School of Nashville Ballet Children’s Program. By separating the Children’s Program from the more rigorous Academy Division for older students, the School of Nashville Ballet can focus on the needs of young children and their families. The expansion is guided by new School of Nashville Ballet Director, Danielle Thienel and new Dean, Andrew Parker.

“Offering quality dance education is a vital part of the mission of Nashville Ballet,” Nashville Ballet Artistic Director & CEO Paul Vasterling said. “We believe any child who wants to learn to dance and has fun doing so should have access to quality training, without auditioning, and our program changes will help us offer that opportunity to more students.”

Program Addition and Class Expansion

The School of Nashville Ballet Children’s Program will offer the following classes on multiple days at both School of Nashville Ballet locations—The Martin Center for Nashville Ballet in the Sylvan Heights neighborhood and the Brentwood Campus:

  • Mommy and Me (ages 2 – 3) encourages grace, coordination and a real love for dance, music and the spoken word, as well as language development, reading readiness and cognitive development. Parents, grandparents and caregivers join children in creating dances and learning poems or stories.
  • Joy of Dance (ages 3 – 4) is a fun way to foster a natural inclination for movement by developing control, coordination, gross motor skills, creativity and expressiveness in the young dancer.
  • Creative Movement (ages 4 – 5) helps students develop a greater sense of confidence and self-esteem within an environment that encourage expressiveness and joy of movement.  Children learn increased control and coordination in their movements.
  • Pre-Ballet (ages 5 – 6) offers a fun and expressive way for children to develop coordination, creativity and musicality while beginning to learn foundational ballet vocabulary.


“Offering boys and girls of such a young age an opportunity to explore art and movement in dance classes enables them to learn about class participation, focus and confidence,” Thienel said. “Students also have an opportunity to explore their talents and develop a lifelong love of dance.”

Leadership Additions

The new Children’s Program and all other programs and divisions of the School of Nashville Ballet will be administered by Thienel, Parker and existing School Principal Nicole Koenig.

Danielle Thienel

Thienel joined the School of Nashville Ballet as School Director in October, after serving as interim School Director for two months. A former professional dancer with Lexington Ballet, Louisville Ballet and Nashville Ballet, Thienel retired from performing in 2002 to pursue a business career managing projects for a large commercial real estate company and to establish her own Pilates company. She applies her dance and administrative experiences, and her bachelor’s degree in dance and marketing from Mercyhurst College to her responsibilities managing all aspects of School of Nashville Ballet operations, focusing on long term strategies, planning and growth.

Thienel oversees the School of Nashville Ballet, alongside Parker who has taken on the newly created role of Dean of the School of Nashville Ballet.

Andrew Parker

Parker applies his extensive experience performing, choreographing, teaching and directing dance programs across North America to his responsibilities teaching classes and overseeing all aspects of student instruction at the School of Nashville Ballet. His role also creates a liaison between the School of Nashville Ballet and the artistic staff of the professional dance company. He comes to Nashville from Canada, where he served several schools of ballet in various roles. While there, he earned a diploma from Canada’s National Ballet School Teacher Training Program. He has also taught in dance schools across the U.S. after retiring from a notable career as a dancer with Milwaukee Ballet, Tulsa Ballet and Konstantin Uralsky’s Ballet Iowa.

Thienel and Parker will work closely with Koenig who teaches classes at the School of Nashville Ballet and manages curriculum for all school levels.

Nicole Koenig

Koenig holds a certificate in ballet teaching studies from the prestigious Royal Academy of Dance in London. She began her teaching career after retiring from dancing professionally with Nashville Ballet for over a decade and directing another dance school in the Nashville area. Since beginning her teaching career, she has earned numerous awards for her exceptional teaching skills, and has taught many ballet students who have been accepted into prestigious programs across the country, including Pacific Northwest Ballet, Boston Ballet, Houston Ballet, Ballet Met and Atlanta Ballet.

About the School of Nashville Ballet

The School of Nashville Ballet offers opportunities for dancers of all ages to express themselves through movement and dance, or to pursue a career in dance performance – through the Children’s Program, Academy Division or Community Division. Registration is currently open for all classes in the spring 2012 semester, which begins Jan. 17.

The Children’s Program provides a nurturing environment perfectly suited for boys and girls 2 to 6 years old to have fun, meet friends and explore a desire to pursue future dance studies.

The Academy Division offers classes to train tomorrow's dancers, choreographers, teachers and ballet lovers with a strategic curriculum taught by world-class instructors.Both the Children’s Program and the Academy Division offer Summer Dance Camps for students who want to spend their summer dancing, meeting new friends and preparing to perform for friends and family.

The Community Division offers dance and dance-based fitness classes to teens and adults of all ages and abilities throughout the community.

About Nashville Ballet

Nashville Ballet is the largest professional ballet company in Tennessee. Nashville Ballet presents a varied repertoire of classical ballet and contemporary works by noted choreographers, including original works by Artistic Director & CEO Paul Vasterling. Nashville Ballet and the second company NB2 (a pre-professional training company) serve nearly 70,000 adults and children annually through performances and our outreach and community engagement programming. Curriculum-based outreach programs bring dance education to community centers, colleges, public libraries and public elementary, middle and high schools across the state. The School of Nashville Ballet provides world-class instruction in ballet and other forms of dance for dancers of all ages.

Nashville Ballet is funded in part from grants made available through the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission, the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Ingram Charitable Fund. Additional funding is also provided by Bridgestone Americas Trust Fund, Caterpillar Financial, ELAN, The Memorial Foundation and Publix Super Markets Charities.

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