As she looks around her new dance studio space in downtown Kalispell, Natalie Molter likes to ponder history and traditions.
For instance, the wall she’s sitting next to is brand new, built during the renovations for Noble Dance’s new location on Main Street that took months of long days to complete, but then she points out a large, square nail, likely handmade in Kalispell’s early days, sticking out of the wall.
“Do you want to see the boiler?” Molter asks, before descending a rickety staircase to show visitors a massive, ancient metal furnace in the deepest basement level.
History is important; the bones of this building simultaneously make it what it was and what it could be, a nod to the work of the past that got it here, and the potential of the future to build upon those efforts.
Ballet, which is the core of Noble Dance, is a similar historic tradition, Molter said.
“We decided to maintain focus on being a pure ballet school,” Molter said. “And there’s no instant gratification in ballet at all.”
For a dance so graceful and beautiful, ballet also carries with it intrinsic blood, sweat, and tears; blisters, hard lessons, and triumphs. It’s taxing on the body, and strict in its demands – and Molter knows from experience.
She grew up in the strict ballet traditions on the East Coast, moving to Montana and taking a job teaching at Noble Dance in 2002. Since then, she’s moved from instructor to owner, continuing the traditions the studio had built and creating her own along the way.
For years, Noble Dance was located on Whitefish Stage, in a studio with large, mirrored rooms where students learned French words and life lessons. But when the opportunity arose to move to Kalispell’s Main Street, in a remodeled building with plenty of space, Molter seized it.
It was one, large open space when Noble Dance got to work, transforming the building into a studio with a room for the older dance students, and room for the youngest dancers. Downstairs has been turned into changing rooms and a space for children’s yoga, coming soon. There’s even space in the back of the building for a potential music school to move in for classes, Molter said.
Exposed brick lines the walls, dark wood finishes give the studio a modern, clean feel, and the classic hardwood floors and mirrored walls bring the tradition.
“It has a different energy,” Molter said of the new space. “It’s exciting. It feels traditional. It feels intimate. It feels fresh and classical at the same time.”
Ballet has a long history of being part of a city’s cultural and social scenes, and Molter is excited to be part of Kalispell’s downtown community. Art walks and other events will open the studio’s doors to the public, she said.
Noble Dance has expanded classes a bit due to the move and the space they’ve now obtained, but Molter said most of the classes are full. There is space in the youngest and older groups, but classes for ages 4, 5, and 6 are pretty full. At this point, the school has about 160 students, with about a dozen or so as part of the dance company.
But everyone will be involved in the upcoming Christmas performance, a first for the school, which usually puts on a Winter Celebration show in January. The Christmas show will include “campy” holiday favorites, Molter said, along with pieces from “The Nutcracker” and contemporary dances to “keep the older kids interested.”
Working hard and together is a big part of Molter’s ballet studio, with students expected to approach challenges and take them on with the help of their fellow dancers and their supportive teachers.
Being on Main Street, in an old building with new looks, helps put this idea into perspective, Molter said. There may not be instant gratification in this discipline, but the rewards are still bountiful.
“They’re figuring out what they have to do when (life) gets hard, to work through it,” she said.
For more information on Noble Dance, visit www.nobledance.org or call 406-212-0293.