A! Magazine for the Arts

Noah Cook in the Russian divertissement from "The Nutcracker," December 2016. (Photo by Richard Mink)

Noah Cook in the Russian divertissement from "The Nutcracker," December 2016. (Photo by Richard Mink)

Arts for Youth Spotlight: Noah Cook

July 27, 2017

Noah Cook's dance experience began with a bribe.

"I've been dancing for five, almost six, years. I started when my mom bribed me with a toy, if I would dance in my sister's "Nutcracker' performance because they needed boys in the party scene.I ended up liking ballet and kept dancing even after my sister quit ballet for other interests," he says.

Since that first experience as a boy in the party scene, he's danced in "The Nutcracker" (as Rat King, lead Russian and Fritz), "Mulan" (as Mulan's father and a warrior), "Celtic Flair," "Alice in Wonderland" (as a Card), "Dracula" (as Dracula's assistant) and "Peter And The Wolf" (as Peter). The "Russian Dance" in "The Nutcracker" is one of his favorite dances.

He recently won the Teresangela Schiano scholarship, which Bristol Ballet gives annually. The scholarship is awarded annually to dancers at the intermediate/advanced level of ballet who are also part of Bristol Ballet's performing company. The chosen dancer must be active in performing, and exhibit skill and dedication to excellence. He or she must possess a desire to progress and grow within the art form; aspirations to dance professionally are not a requirement.

"Noah is an enthusiastic student, whose passion for dance is evident in his class work and his attitude in the studio and on stage," said Artistic Director Michele Plescia. "He has grown leaps and bounds in his technique since joining Bristol Ballet a year ago, and his enthusiasm has spread among the company members."

Noah says he was "extremely excited and honored" to win the scholarship. His influences are Plescia and Kevin Martin. Martin is his private instructor.

"I was also influenced by good friends and dancers in another studio before joining Bristol Ballet, all of whom encouraged my dancing. I have been influenced by summer intensive work, including at The Andalusia Ballet last summer and Pas De Vie ballet this summer, particularly Charles Hagan at Pas De Vie.However, as I became more serious about ballet, Bristol Ballet and Kevin Martin really helped me deepen my skills.

"It takes lots of practice, and every movement has to be perfect in order for it to look good. It is an athletic challenge that combines a mental challenge plus a lot of physical challenges. Ballet is a "sport' that requires an immense amount of physical strength and coordination, individually and in concert with others set to music. Ballet is something I enjoy, and the harder I work, the more I see results. I am proud of learning and accomplishing things that at first seemed impossible. I have made good friends dancing," Noah says.

When he isn't dancing, he likes to hang out with his friends, play basketball and spend time with his family. He says he would like to keep dancing and see where it takes him.

Noah is 13 and a rising eighth grader at Liberty Bell Middle School in Johnson City, Tennessee. His parents are Joel and Suzanne Cook.