The Billings Outpost

NOVA names director of Youth Conservatory


Dan Nickerson is passionate about theater. He holds a bachelor of fine arts in the subject from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle and was active in that area’s Black Box and Fringe scene. He was surprised to discover he is equally passionate about teaching theater to young students.

“I trained as an actor, but I love working with kids,” he says. “Theater provides these kids the opportunity to gain confidence and find a creative comfort zone. There are so many life skills that they learn.” 

As the newly appointed Youth Conservatory Director at NOVA, Mr. Nickerson says he has found his dream job. And he can’t wait to get started.

“My vision will help enrollment numbers increase. Since hiring experienced and professional artists, we can start from the ground floor and build upon the reputation that ‘the building’ (the NOVA Center for the Performing Arts) already has in the community.”

Mr. Nickerson praised the former Venture Theater organization, which has teamed with the Rimrock Opera Company to form NOVA.

“We now have two fabulous theatrical companies under one roof,” Mr. Nickerson says.

He is expanding on the core classes previously offered at the Youth Conservatory with the intent of “specifying the skills of the students.” Technical Theater is intended to attract students who want to learn what goes on behind the scenes, two new play-writing classes are on tap, and a number of new movement classes have been added to the fall lineup.

“The Moving Body” class uses a technique called “Viewpoint,” a favorite of Mr. Nickerson’s. “It’s based on expression, gesture, rhythm, tempo and levels. It’s completely unscripted, based on impulse … and it’s a technique that helps students grow as an ensemble and develop their characters physically.”

In addition to overseeing Youth Conservatory classes, Mr. Nickerson is charged with all youth productions at NOVA. The first play of the season, “The Giver,” was adapted by Eric Coble from the Newberry Award-winning book by Lois Lowry. It’s a large ensemble cast with nine leads and will be directed by Dawn Carter, Mr. Nickerson’s fiancé.

Yes, there was another reason he left the Seattle area for Big Sky Country – Ms. Carter and the couple’s 5-year-old son, Gabriel.

And, if folks have never been to the NOVA Center for the Performing Arts on Montana Avenue, Dan Nickerson would like to be the first to extend an invitation.

“It’s an amazing theatrical company that’s built for adults and children alike.  Where you can either begin your passion for the arts, or use the tools and talent you have to further your theatrical journey.”

A complete listing of fall classes and offerings can be found at or watch as they appear on the Outpost’s Insider Calendar.

Copyright 2012 Wild Raspberry Inc.

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