Nicole Zervas Dance Academy (NZDA) is celebrating its 30th anniversary, a milestone that owner and director, Nicole Paolo, is proud of. After 30 years, what brings Miss Nicole (as she is affectionately known) the most happiness is building the confidence of her students. Developing their strengths, communication and time management skills are all essential components to her curriculum.
“It feels great! We’re always moving forward. Three decades has been a long time,” said Nicole, who grew up in Revere. “My team of teachers do an amazing job. I have an incredible office staff. I also work very closely with my performance board, who have been with me since they were babies. It really is a big, collaborative effort.”
Paolo hopes to create a comfortable, safe atmosphere at her studio on Broadway in Revere, where children have a peaceful outlet to express themselves. She encourages her students to be ambitious and bold.
“My goal is that we give our dancers the skills to be successful young adults,” she explains. “When students leave, we hope to give them a broad range of tools to succeed—not only in dance, but also skills that will carry them through life.”
Nicole, who recently celebrated her 21st wedding anniversary with her husband, Domenic, also works full time as an administrator in the public elementary school system. Her work in special education inspired her belief in an all-inclusive environment at NZDA.
On her office wall is a framed chalkboard that reads: “Behind every dancer who believes in themselves, is a teacher who believed in them first.” The gift was created by a group of students who recently graduated high school and began dancing with her as toddlers in the studio’s “Tiniest Toes” program.
“Being influential in a young person’s life is truly one of the greatest joys I have,” said Nicole, whose tap shoes and worn ballet slippers line her office floor.
On her desk is a framed dance portrait of her mentor, Sharon Tirrell, whose concepts have inspired the principles at NZDA. The two met when Nicole first enrolled at Tassinari and Tirrell, a dance studio in Winthrop, when at the age of 10, she realized that music and movement made her feel complete.
“Sharon and her mother were both huge contributors to the foundational work and philosophies at my studio: dancing for a purpose, dancing for a message,” Nicole described. “Your biggest competitor is yourself. Make sure you are always your personal best.”
Tirrell, who eventually became NZDA’s co-director, was instrumental in encouraging Paolo to open her own studio. Tirrell also helped Nicole choreograph the routine for her appearance in a national Diet Pepsi commercial on Boston City Hall Plaza.
When NZDA opened, it was the first dancing school in the area to offer street dancing classes. Today, the studio provides in-depth foundational classes in ballet, tap, and jazz, as well as hip hop, Latin, contemporary, and tumbling.
“We’ve been steadfast in our philosophies,” Nicole said. “Being on the forefront of dance is an important key to keep dancers engaged. You need to constantly progress with the times and be aware of what is happening in your industry, but never forget about your foundation.”
Register at Nicole Zervas Dance Academy located at 790 Broadway, Revere, on Saturday, Aug. 18 and 25: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and Thursday, Aug. 30: 6 – 8 p.m. Classes begin on Wednesday, Sept. 5. For more information, contact Nicole Paolo at (781) 284-3137, or email [email protected]