Quotes & Accolades
The Iowa City arts community provided the support and discipline to prepare me for a career as a professional stage director. Part of why I chose The University of Iowa Theatre Department to study was the vibrancy and diversity of the Iowa City community. I was afforded so many opportunities to grow as an artist, the community was instrumental in shaping the artist that I became.
Over the last ten years I have had the privilege to return and collaborate with Leslie on various theatre productions. She remains one of the most creative, focused, and positive collaborators that I have worked with. Leslie Nolte exemplifies what is best about Iowa City, she is an inspiring arts leader who has cultivated an inclusive array of performers, artists, and educators to train the next generation of artists.
Leslie understands how to train artists for a successful care by personalizing their education to refine their natural abilities and gifts. Leslie empowers her students to embrace what makes them unique, she then trains them to maximize their skills, and cultivate the work ethic to succeed. Coupled with rigorous training in a compassionate and inclusive community, the ICON Arts Academy will empower their students to be successful in the arts and entertainment industry. Part of why I have such enormous respect for Leslie is that she is a dreamer with the skills and enthusiasm to realize her dreams. She instills this determination and passion in her students, which prepares them for the rigors of a very competitive industry.Chad Larabee | Director & Creative Producer
Beth Brown is the most committed and dynamic educator I have ever known. She has had an incredible impact on every organization she has worked with and her administrative and curriculum integration experience are perfect for building a school like ICON. She is a strong leader and is especially skilled at creating a great team. I can’t wait to collaborate with ICON faculty and students!Carey Bostian | Artistic Director, Red Cedar Chamber Music
My first memories include my time with Leslie, at Nolte Academy, where I began dancing at age two. Leslie’s lifelong mentorship has helped shape my career and my life, and to see the growth of her enterprises makes me so excited as I know she will continue to change lives for many more dancers time and time again.Matilda Mackey | Nolte Academy Alum, Juilliard Dance '20
Leslie Nolte is the bedrock of the Iowa City arts community. Having worked with Leslie’s students, collaborated with her on creative projects, and having visited the footprint and renovation of the building — ICON will, without question, be a hub for arts education and expanding the next generation of creatives who will influence the field for years to come.Brandon Cournay | Executive Artistic Director, Mark Morris Company Member
My experience working with Leslie Nolte has left me with high admiration for not only her skills as a director and teacher, but as a visionary. The scope of her ambition for young people is broad, yet practical and truly inspired. Leslie knows that the value of art in young lives is priceless. Her mission to enrich those lives through education, nurturing, guidance and motivation has already been successful, as evidenced in the scores of youth who have passed through her school with more confidence, self-worth, empathy for others, physical and mental achievement, and a true love and appreciation for what art is.
The community of Iowa City is immensely lucky to have someone like Leslie with such dedication, wisdom, and integrity.Gavin Larsen | Dance Teacher & Writer
Dr. Beth Brown is a beloved music educator in Iowa City who has nurtured the talents of hundreds of young students in her work in the schools, and as the director of the Iowa City Youth Choir. I love seeing young faces come alive when they see Dr. Brown in the Iowa City community, because she inspires them! At ICON Arts Academy, Dr. Brown pairs desire to inspire students with her talents in creating innovative curriculum that supports growing artists. Combine this with a vibrant arts community, and students will be amazed at the opportunities they find here!Sarah Fairfield Ph.D. | Iowa City Community School District Leadership Support and Development Strategist, Curriculum and Mentor Focus
As an educator, Dr. Brown has a great capacity for inspiring both in-service and pre-service teachers. Working with scores of adult learners in the UI College of Education MAT and undergraduate programs, she has shown time and time again her dedication to guiding and shaping innovative, caring teaching practices. Her expertise and long-time experience in the public schools and working with so many different kinds of learners has poised Beth to offer something unique to teachers: collegiality, understanding, and a consistently central focus on making instruction fit the learner. Her focus on learner-centered instruction is central to her philosophy of education, and I cannot imagine a more competent arts educator at the helm of designing curriculum for ICON.Dr. Mitchell Kelly | University of Iowa Clinical Professor and Director of Office of Graduate Teaching Excellence
Iowa City is an oasis in the Midwest. Small town friendliness coupled with an amazing arts and culture scene. Leslie and the entire Nolte team have been instrumental in creating a vibrant and thriving community here in Iowa City and ICON promises to take it all to a whole new level!Nate Kaeding | Entrepreneur & Retired NFL Player
Having grown up in Manhattan, dancing for Mr. Balanchine in the NYCB, I am not easily impressed by art scenes in other places. But, Iowa City and all Leslie Nolte has done for the dance and theatre scene in Iowa City has really impressed me.
I love my summers participating in the Open Doors festival. Leslie brings exciting and renowned artists to work with the young aspiring students.
The addition of Leslie and Mark Nolte’s James Theater is a great plus for the city. What an opportunity for smaller scale performances. I can speak from personal experience, my story ballet couldn’t have been performed anywhere else. At the James, the dancers performed to sold out crowds.
I am excited about all that is to come with ICON and I look forward to being a part of it. Such a great opportunity for students from near and far to come and study in this vibrant atmosphere. Bravo Leslie, Nolte, and Iowa City!Marjorie Thompson | Pacific Northwest Ballet
Dr. Brown provided a thoughtful and engaging graduate course in learner-centered, PBL instructional design for classroom teachers. I genuinely looked forward to the reading, discussions, and collaborative assignments. I feel like I was able to target an area of growth that I am really working on right now and it just felt like perfect timing. I feel really inspired and validated in my educational philosophy. She took the time to engage and connect with us. It made a world of difference.Jazmine Jackson | Beauvoir National Cathedral Elementary School Teacher, Washington DC