Dancer Heather Nichols joined Kansas City Ballet in 2019. She began dancing at age 4 and has never looked back.
Q: TELL US A BIT ABOUT WHEN YOU BECAME INTERESTED IN BALLET?
A: I remember the moment that I decided I was going to dance professionally. My mother took my older sister and I to Richmond Ballet’s performance of Swan Lake. Rachel couldn’t sit still and I was mesmerized; from then on I was determined to make that dream a reality. I began my training in a small studio in Richmond, VA. Since I have always loved the hard work and dedication that ballet requires, most of my motivation to train comes from myself. Growing up I was extremely lucky to have supportive parents and teachers who were able to recognize my drive and passion for the art, and help cultivate and foster it.
Q: YOU HAVE A DEGREE FROM BUTLER UNIVERSITY. WHAT MADE YOUR DECISION TO EARN A DEGREE BEFORE JOINING A COMPANY?
A: It was certainly a hard decision, however, at the time I had just completed my second trainee year with the Richmond Ballet and was still recovering from surgery on both of my ankles. I was not fully ready to join a professional company and Butler gave me the opportunity to continue my recovery while furthering my education simultaneously. I selected the ballet program at Butler University because it allowed me to experience college while also continuing to dance 7-8 hours a day. I majored in Dance Pedagogy, but I completed all of the prerequisites for Physical Therapy school during that time as well. For my future post-dance career, I hope to become a Physical Therapist (and ideally work closely with ballet dancers!).
Q: THIS SEASON YOU’VE BEEN DANCING IN A POD TO LIMIT EXPOSURE? WHAT HAS THAT EXPERIENCE BEEN LIKE?
A: It’s been a bit hard. One of my favorite things about Kansas City Ballet are the other dancers. Being part of a company with only 30 dancers, you become quite close to one another. While the policy is completely understandable for the safety of everyone in the organization, I have found myself standing in doorways or watching through windows the other pods’ rehearsals/classes to see the people I don’t get to see daily. So much of our inspiration as professionals comes from your fellow dancers. I can hardly wait to be back in the studio all together again.
Q: LAST SEASON WAS YOUR FIRST WITH KCB, WHAT DID YOU ENJOY ABOUT THAT EXPERIENCE (BEFORE THE SHUTDOWN)?
A: I thoroughly enjoyed (and still do) the work environment here at KCB. My fellow company members were so welcoming during my first season. Those relationships have only grown into stronger friendships throughout my time with the company. The beautiful studios, wonderful theater, encouraging staff, and the diversity of the repertoire here have made me so happy to be a part of this company. These past two seasons have been a struggle for the ballet world, but I am so grateful to be experiencing them here with KCB. I can’t wait for the ballet to be back in full swing and performing live again.
Q: IN SUCH AN UNPREDICTABLE YEAR, WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU?
A: While this season has certainly been unlike any other, there were many things that have pleasantly surprised me. The fact that KCB has been able to continue offering classes, running rehearsals, and creating new works in a safe environment has been an extreme accomplishment! For an art-form that is primarily consumed ‘live’, the company has adapted well to accommodate the ever changing state of the world. We have still been able to work with choreographers from all over the country via Zoom and have adapted to a virtual audience, by releasing virtual ‘episodes’ weekly. It has been such a wonderful surprise how successfully we have shifted our medium to a much stronger online presence.
Q: WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT KANSAS CITY?
A: I love to spend as much time as possible outdoors and walk everywhere I can. I am slowly cultivating a greenhouse (or jungle) in my apartment. I have a cat named Cleopatra. I am a big foodie, and am a sucker for a delicious cocktail! One of my favorite things about Kansas City is it’s appreciation for the arts. There are numerous museums in the city, live music and performance opportunities, art galleries, and more. The city’s appreciation for small businesses and larger arts organizations is seen and felt all over!
Header photograph by Brett Pruitt & East Market Studios.