Simply Family Article: NOVA: Time to Shine

Simply Family Magazine:  October 2013
NOVA: Time to Shine

by tj wierenga

photos courtesy of kristin mayer

A nova is defined as a star that suddenly increases dramatically in brightness, and that is just what Rimrock Opera and Venture Theatre had in mind when they combined forces this past May. With the new season come growing pains, changes, and above all, opportunity. “In order to be creative and expressive, you have to take risks,” said Carmelita Dominguez, Marketing Director for NOVA Center for the Performing Arts. “It is so great that Billings can do this, to be able to support two or three theaters; it really builds the character of the community to have opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have.”

These include opera, musical and dramatic theater, and an even stronger youth conservatory offering classes in everything from acting to playwriting, stage production and design. “Our intention is for NOVA to really continue their artistic work with a new, very strong financial background while providing lots of opportunities for youth and adults; we’re very excited about it!” explained Dominguez.

The popular Venture Into Schools program is going strong with four schools hosting the production of “It’s Electrifying” this Fall, and the Youth Conservatory has the well known Venture shows as well as new prospects. “Kids who are passionate about voice now have an opportunity to actually perform with main stage opera singers,” said Youth Conservatory Director Dan Nickerson. Regarding the new merger he elaborates, “I think this is best thing that has happened to this building since Venture first entered it! When you have two major companies, Rimrock Opera and Venture Theatre, which have been around for quite some time, it’s only going to make the space a lot better because of the contacts and networking both bring. Rather than just theater, it’s a performing arts center open to anyone who wants to come in and perform.”

West High senior Tanner Bolin has been involved with Venture Theatre since 6th grade. Despite the initial uneasiness caused by the merger, he expressed, “It really built a strong community of people involved. The level of support from people I knew and people in the community I didn’t know yet was amazing and worthwhile.” He credits theater experience with changing his life. “If you can just walk through that door, you find that you easily make bonds with almost everyone, grow as a person, learn to come out of your shell. It was an entire new world for me, and showed me that what I want to do with the rest of my life is to entertain people.”

NOVA has a strong commitment to the youth of Billings. Staff and volunteers seek to provide participants the conditions at even a young age to gain a love for the performing arts, learn to safely and creatively express themselves and to perform in front of a crowd, and all the while enjoy the fun of exploring their imaginations. Classes range from kindergarten-aged through graduating high school seniors, building upon skills and experience. NOVA is working on becoming fully accredited and plan to continue building on the excellence of their teaching staff.

Open enrollment means that participation after summer sports programs is simple to accomplish, and whether you have a youngster who has never stepped foot on a stage or an experienced teen ready to do comedy Improv with the “Funky Bunch”, there are plenty of opportunities to “break a leg”, the backstage expression of good wishes.

“To me, the best thing about working with NOVA is the fact that they are willing to combine so many different forms of art, from Shakespeare or One Act opera, bringing in a lot of musicals that you haven’t seen in Billings for awhile. But they also retained the great Improv comedy and the Funky Bunch,” Bolin shared. “Those allow youth to stretch their limits and their skills to really grow, and it is something you don’t see a lot in a lot of communities.”
Finance Director Darci Hertz sums up, “This year as a season, we want people to know that what they are accustomed to is still there. Our commitment is to produce a diverse portfolio with drama, music, opera, comedies, classics, Improv, and creative playwriting. So we want to make sure we keep the integrity of the artistic work and will retain a strong financial situation. We’ve always intended to keep the entire family really entertained.”
The sky is the limit for the performing arts in Billings, and NOVA is truly a place where the entire family can shine.
(from left to right) Kean Haunt, Andrew Eagle and Tanner Bolin
Tanner Bolin and Bridget Mayer
(from left to right) Kean Haunt, Tanner Bolin, Bridget Mayer and Geneva Copeland
TJ Wierenga is a Billings wife and homeschooling mother of two. Philippians 2:15