Brilliance at every stage.

Dance

Dance

A program for high school students who are suited for and dedicated to the study of dance.

Theatre Arts

Theatre Arts

A program for high school students looking for a deeper experience in all aspects of theatre education.

Music

Music

A program for high school students interested in growing their individual musicianship with non-traditional music-making opportunities.

Design & Production

Design & Production

A program for high school students who engage in the visual and fabric arts and want to take their work to the stage.

Dance

A program for high school students who are suited for and dedicated to the study of dance.

Theatre Arts

A program for high school students looking for a deeper experience in all aspects of theatre education.

Music

A program for high school students interested in growing their individual musicianship with non-traditional music-making opportunities.

Design & Production

A program for high school students who engage in the visual and fabric arts and want to take their work to the stage.

You can be an ICON.

At ICON, you are the center of your high school experience. As the premier performing arts school in downtown Iowa City, ICON sees each student as the brilliant individual they are, with specific and unique talents, dreams, and potential. We guide you to reach your goals with personalized education both in the arts and in academic achievement. You will be seen here. You will be heard here. You will be known here. The artist who lives inside of you will break through current limitations and emerge confident and prepared.

Every aspect of ICON is curated to foster that transformation. Students will develop skill and deep understanding in their arts concentration area while engaging in project-based learning (PBL) experiences across disciplines. With the guidance of teachers-artists, collaboration with peers in artistic endeavors will produce meaningful outcomes.

In addition to these immersive engagements, students accepted at ICON will have full access to the rigor and richness of the Iowa City Community School District curriculum, recognized as the best in the state by US News and World Report. Academic and artistic growth progress harmoniously in the company and care of our faculty.

ICON is a destination that can be reached via many pathways. We celebrate the diverse experiences of the student artists that come through our doors, as well as the shared love of art —and artists— that shapes each graduate. We will see your passion and promise to feed it. We will hear your voice and promise to value it. We will discover the essence of who you are and develop who you aspire to be–an ICON.

ICON Auditions

Austin, TX

Chicago, IL

Denver, CO

Des Moines, IA

Iowa City, iA

New York City, NY

Omaha, NE

St. Louis, MI

Winston-Salem, NC

Auditions are held in January and February 2023

Is ICON for me?

ICON is for students who desire AN arts education to be central to their high school experience and who are looking for more than what their current high school may offer.

ICON is an interdisciplinary, intensive arts education program with curriculum focused on developing the student holistically with special attention given to their artistic needs and goals. Unlike traditional high schools that have limited time or opportunity for the developing artist, or other conservatories that continue to embrace dated philosophies, ICON has assembled a pioneering group of passionate instructors and educators to facilitate student-driven experiences in a challenging, supportive, and nurturing environment, to foster the growth and development of every student-artist.

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

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

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

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

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

Iowa City, IA

Ideally located within a four to five hour drive of Chicago, Minneapolis, Kansas City, and St. Louis, Iowa City packs a ton…World-class literature, education, and healthcare are all at the root of Iowa City’s status as one of the best places to live in America, and the arts scene is what makes this town bloom in every season.

According to Livability.com, Iowa City packs a ton of cultural and recreational opportunities within a safe, caring town for the education and arts.

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