Winterset Ballet & Dance Studio

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About the Director

I grew up in Lamoni, Iowa, and started dancing when I was 4.  I took ballet and jazz and in 8th grade, my teacher, a former professional dancer, started me on pointe.  I was fortunate, coming from a small community, to have had that opportunity.  I continued to take ballet, pointe and jazz through high school.  I attended Iowa State University and began dancing for the audition-only, modern dance group, Orchesis I.  While there, I began choreographing dances.  One of my dances was selected to go to the American College Dance Festival in Iowa City.  I also participated in two dances which were selected to go to the Festival in New Jersey.  My junior year, I received the Anna R. Toman award which is presented to the Orchesis I member that most significantly contributed to the ISU dance program.

    After graduating from ISU with a degree in Zoology, I stayed in the Ames area to work in a freshwater research lab.  In 2002 my husband Clint and I moved to the Winterset area, where he grew up, to farm.  I then worked as a veterinary technician at a small animal clinic in West Des Moines for 11 years. 

    Through that time my passion for dance never waivered.  I became inspired watching my daughter, Delaney, experience her first year of ballet.  I decided to follow my dream and open my own studio, Winterset Ballet and Dance Studio, in September of 2012.  I am excited to have the opportunity to teach dance and I am thrilled to be able to pass on the passion for the art of dance to future generations in the Winterset community.

     Hi!  My name is Ashley Nelson and I grew up in Winterset.  I currently work for Iowa Ortho and you might also see me when I'm working at the Northside Cafe!

     I started taking ballet, jazz, and tap lessons when I was in kindergarten up until high school.  I have loved watching my 12 year old daughter continue with that same dance bug over the years!

     I am thrilled to be a part of Winterset Ballet and Dance Studio and am having so much fun assisting in a variety of ways and working with students of all ages!  

   
Summer studied dance from age three through high school at Forest Dance Academy in Lynchburg, VA. While at FDA she advanced in the arts of classical, lyrical and modern ballet as well as tap and jazz. She also took tumbling classes at a local gymnastics studio for many years. She went on to win numerous talent competitions at local and state level Teen/Miss beauty pageants where she incorporated gymnastics into her tap and/or lyrical ballet pieces. In college, she was on the Emerson College Dance Team in Boston, MA and then on the Competition Cheerleading Team at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Her other passion is acting. No stranger to the stage, she has performed in many theatrical performances as a lead actress, but also a lead dancer in shows such as West Side Story. Since moving to Winterset four years ago where she resides with her husband, Jim, six year old Anne-Marie and little dog Coco Channel, she has performed in two productions at the Winterset Stage.  Summer also volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for abused and neglected children. She loves traveling and hanging with her girlfriends. 

You will see Summer assisting or leading in a variety of classes here at Winterset Ballet and Dance Studio!

My Philosophy

Theresa Moreno, Assistant

     Hi!  My name is Kelsey Collins, I'm the daughter of Nolan And G. JoAnn Collins, and I've lived in Winterset all of my life.  I graduated in 2003 and went on to earn an associate degree in Business Administration from AIB in 2006.

     I started taking dance lessons at age 3 and have continued "busting moves" ever since.

     I'm very excited to keep my passion for dance alive by encouraging all ages to keep moving and I am honored to be the studio's tap instructor!  I also am certified to instruct CIZE by Beachbody and have enjoyed leading these classes in the past and now leading other adult fitness classes!  I look forward to seeing you in class!


Ashley Nelson, Assistant

Nicole Eckles, Owner and Director

Instructors and Staff

Linda Eckles, Front Desk

     Hi! My name is Linda Eckles. My husband Dennis and I live on our farm west of Winterset where we raised our two sons, Chance and Clint. I’m so fortunate to have Nicole as my daughter-in-law and to be grandma to Delaney and Kinsley. You’ve probably seen me hanging out at the studio with the girls these past years.
     Although I never took dance lessons as a child, I always loved attending friends’ dance recitals growing up and have loved getting the opportunity to be a dance grandma and watching my granddaughters and all the dancers perform.
     I’m very excited to greet you at the Front Desk and to have this opportunity to get to know you and your dancers better this year!

Summer Hawkins Hansen, Substitute Instructor and Assistant

   Dance can mean many things to many different people.  Here at Winterset Ballet and Dance Studio, my philosophy is that dance is not only important for developing one’s physical abilities, but for one’s mental capacities as well.

    As with anything, a strong foundation is needed for growth to occur.  Because of this, at Winterset Ballet and Dance Studio, ballet is strongly recommended for dancers.  Ballet gives that strong foundation by giving one structure and technique in order to learn how to control one’s body and have a strong core.  More than one style of dance is also recommended.  Tap classes are available for all ages, Jazz and Hip-Hop can be added in first grade and modern in 5th grade.  

    Once those building blocks have been placed, I believe one can achieve four things: courage, confidence, self-motivation and perseverance.  First, one will have the courage to try new moves and challenges, and to go out there and perform to the best of their abilities.  Second, one will have the confidence that they have a strong base and hence the ability to dance at the level they truly desire.  Third, one will have the self-motivation to keep trying and to push to the next level.  Finally, one will have the perseverance to stick with it no matter how difficult it may seem.  These are qualities that not only carry one as a dancer, but through the rest of life as well.

    In keeping with this, I believe that a dancer will find an environment here at Winterset Ballet and Dance Studio, where they can express themselves through the art of dance, and take with them lessons learned that they will always cherish.

Kelsey Collins, Instructor

Registration is still open! 

Click here to register online! ​ Click here to view the fall schedule.