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Nova Linea Contemporary Dance hopes to bring the power of performance back to Waukesha

Posted at 10:30 AM, Dec 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-21 11:30:56-05

WAUKESHA — It's a graceful sight as the Nova Linea Contemporary Dance Company warms up.

"Art is the best way to connect to people and connect back to our humanity. I think that's definitely needed right now," says artistic director Jared Baker. "This professional dance company is based in Waukesha. One of our goals is to help give our audiences the tools they need to be able to feel something or to be able to take something away from from the performance."

Baker originally planned to be a biochemist until a mentor put him on the right footing.

"He said, 'What are you doing? You should be dancing. You need to go to the University of Arizona and go dance there.' That did it for me," Baker says.

That led Baker to help found Nova Linea, giving him a chance to help artists.

"Feeling like you were an integral part of the making of this company and the spreading of this company and making sure that it succeeds is really fulfilling for me," says dancer Mia Shindle.

Nova Linea also collaborates with other local dance studios. Baker wants audiences to feel something when they come to his performances. He knows dance can have a profound effect on people.

"People cry all the time and not that I love that they're crying, but I love that they're expressing emotion. I think that's really important," Baker says.

Nova Linea proves local artists don't have to move from the Midwest to hone their craft. In fact, 21-year-old Sebastian Martinez moved to Milwaukee from the East Coast.

"I just graduated college in May, so it was a big transition for me," says Martinez. "I felt like it was the best decision I could have made. Everyone here was very welcoming, very accepting."

24-year-old Mia Shindle moved here from Tucson, Arizona.

"At our last performance one of my young students came up to me actually and he pointed out the stage and he said I want to do that someday," Shindle says. "As a teacher, as a performer, as an artist in general that that was probably one of my favorite moments so far here."

Grace Plath has been dancing at the studio all her life.

"I basically learned to walk in the studio and now like dancing in here professionally, and one of the first professional companies in Wisconsin and having my parents involved in an executive way has been like, really, really mind blowing," Plath says. "And sometimes it's really hard to believe when I really sit down and think about it."

Plath is thrilled she can dance professionally without leaving the Midwest.

"It's pretty remarkable. You manifest it and believe in it, and you're with the right people," she says. "Yeah, you can do it anywhere."

The company's mission statement says, "Dance can be healing, emotional and sometimes difficult, but always leaves us better human beings than ever before."

"For me, the two things that always inspire me are my own personal life," says Baker. "How can I take my story, find the overlying themes that can connect to all of us and then build a piece about that?"

"I think it's like a really good feeling to know that I'm able to impact something much bigger than me and something that is up and coming, something that is going to be there when I'm no longer here," Martinez says. "So that legacy, it's that lineage and it's that impact that you have on the younger generation. I think it's something that is really important to me."

"Being an artist is not just about creating work, it's more for me about impacting people," Shindle adds. "I think the work is a way of getting there. It's the vehicle that changes people's lives."

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