Nicole Haskins, of Venice Beach, California, started dancing at age three at the Westside School of Ballet in Santa Monica. In her own words she “fell in love with performing” and according to her parents she wouldn’t stop dancing and would often put on elaborate productions at home with friends.
Nicole continued to dance at Westside through to her senior year, under the tutorage of Yvonne Mounsey and Rosemary Valaire. During her time at Westside, Nicole also discovered a passion for choreography and by the time she was seventeen, Nicole had choreographed over eight pieces for the school, three of which were used for the school’s annual Spring Show.
Upon graduating high school, Nicole joined Sacramento Ballet as an apprentice under the direction of Ron and Carinne Binda Cunningham. After just once year Nicole was invited to become a company member and danced with the company for seven seasons. Some of Nicole’s favorite productions at Sacramento Ballet included Edwaard Liang‘s WunderLand and her principle roles as “Alice” in Ron Cunningham’s Alice in Wonderland, “Liberty Bell” in Stars and Stripes and the Tarentella pas de duex (both by George Balanchine).
Nicole’s love and aptitude for choreography didn’t go unnoticed at Sacramento Ballet. During her time with the company, Nicole created over sixteen works for the annual Company Choreography Showcase and was later commissioned by the company’s directors to create two pieces for their subscription season. Ron and Carinne also encouraged Nicole to apply to the New York Choreography Institute, to which she was accepted. Nicole spent two weeks in New York choreographing on the students of the School of American Ballet and the following year the Institute awarded her their fellowship grant. This grant gave Nicole the means to spend a week creating a new work on ten of her fellow company members.
In the summer of 2011 Nicole worked with Amy Seiwert’s Imagery where she was inspired by the amazing dancers and choreographers she got to collaborate with. The following year Nicole joined Washington Ballet for their 2012-2013 season under the direction of Septime Webre. Where she performed the lead of “Lucy” in Michael Pink’s Dracula and revisited Liang’s WunderLand.
Outside of dancing, Nicole likes to remain creative through her crafts, crocheting and spending time in her favorite room in the house – the kitchen. Nicole’s favorite foods are cheese and espresso and she always enjoys cooking, baking and seeing what she can create out of basic ingredients. Nicole also enjoys getting outdoors, staying active and doing anything that involves fun and enjoying life to the fullest.
Nicole was inspired by her trip to Italy this past summer, which was a dream come true being a cheese, espresso and art lover. Nicole hopes to travel more extensively to learn from other cultures and one day to return to Italy to learn the language and maybe pursue a career in cheese making – “seriously!”
This is Nicole’s first season with Smuin Ballet and she would like to dedicate it, in loving memory, to her teachers Yvonne Mounsey and Rosemary Valaire who had a profound impact upon Nicole as a dancer and individual. “I am really interested in working with younger students and inspiring the next generation of dancers,” Nicole exclaims. “I think this is a rare, beautiful, and fragile art form. I am very grateful for all the amazing teachers, mentors, and repertoire I have been honored to work with and learn from and would really like to inspire other dancers to love ballet as much as I do. Ballet offers a rare ability to challenge yourself, yet give all of yourself at the same time. I just want to be a part of keeping ballet vibrant.”
And we at Smuin Ballet couldn’t be happier to work with such an enthusiastic and talented young dancer. Welcome Nicole!