Leslie earned her dance and theatre degree from the University of Iowa, studying with David Berkey, Alan Sener, Armando Duarte and Alicia Brown and is certified in STOTT, Mat and Reformer Pilates. She has been dancing and teaching professionally for 14 years. Leslie founded the Nolte Academy of Dance in 2000 to bring her love of children and dance together in a fun and enriching environment unlike any other in Eastern Iowa. Since that time, her studio has developed a reputation for innovative dance instruction that continues to produce sought after talent. This summer, Leslie moved her studio into her new 16,000 square foot building boasting 5 studios, a cafe, Demizo Dancewear, a costume and prop shop and her new venture, The Performing Arts Preschool.
As Artistic Director of Affect Dance Company, Leslie has won numerous regional and national awards, including Choreographer of the Year in 2004 and 2005 in Detroit, 2007 and 2009 in Chicago, 2010 in Minneapolis and 2011 in Dallas. Leslie is the proud mother of five children, and an active supporter of the local art community, contributing her choreography skills to recent productions of Legally Blonde, Hairspray, Beauty and The Beast, Seussical the Musical, Grease and High School Musical. This summer, Leslie is excited choreograph Shrek and produce Aladdin at CCPA.
Grace Snider began her ballet training at age six at the School of Colorado Ballet in Denver. She continued her training at the American Ballet School in San Diego before being accepted in Houston Ballet Academy on full scholarship in 1990. After two years of training in the academy, Grace was invited to join Houston Ballet by Ben Stevenson at age 16; making her the youngest company dancer in Houston Ballet's 50-year history. In 1997, Grace joined Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, where she danced for two seasons before retiring from her performing career in 1999. Grace began teaching ballet at Pittsburgh Youth Ballet under the direction of Jean Gedeon. She then moved to Iowa and accepted a teaching position with the University of Iowa Dance Forum in 2001. Grace was promoted to lead instructor for advanced levels in 2002, and then to Director of UI Youth Ballet program in 2003. She joined the Nolte Academy of Dance in 2007, bringing her impeccable training and proven ability to bring ballet students along to the highest classical standards. In addition to her position on the Nolte faculty, Grace has worked as a rehearsal assistant with the Balanchine Trust, and Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, and enjoys guest teaching engagements with the Houston Ballet.