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New Victory Blog

The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York's theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we're passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.

Noluyanda Mqulwana, Nolly for short, grew up in the township of Khayelitsha near Cape Town in South Africa. Growing up, Nolly saw that many of her neighbors didn't have a plan for their future. To give herself something to work for, she began studying ballet with Dance for All at the age of nine. She knew that dancing would give her the strength to avoid the pitfalls of her peers, but she never imagined the adventures she would find on this career path!

Now, she's coming to New York City to dance in Mother Africa: My Home with a company of dancers, musicians and acrobats from all over Africa! We spoke to her about her inspiring journey...
 
Noluyanda's Headshot
1. In your own words, what was your childhood like? 

Coming from a disadvantaged community, I had nothing to do after school. A lot of my peers didn't care about the future ahead and sat around, doing nothing. Because of this and other bad influences, many sadly fell victim to HIV.

Even at a young age, I knew dancing would both keep me busy and give me strength to avoid getting involved with the wrong crowd.

2. Can you describe the moment when you first fell in love with dance? 

I fell in love with dance when I was about nine. I was always an active kid who liked playing sports, so when I heard that my school would offer dance classes, I got very excited! I really did fall in love at my first lesson.

I was so enthusiastic when I started that I constantly wore my ballet slippers so I could practice all the time!

3. How would your life be different if you weren't a dancer? 
 
I wouldn’t have been as disciplined or driven as I am today. Also, if I didn’t have dance, I wouldn’t have been able to go to school. Since I was raised by a single parent, I would’ve started working at a very young age to help my mother. I still had to work to help support my family, but I was able to both go to school and work as a dance teacher. 

4. What is it like to be a dancer in such a large circus troupe?

Since I come from a classical ballet background, it’s a totally different world for me. Even the music and scenery on the stage are different! It’s been incredibly fun to go from the technical world of ballet to really "get down" with a type of dance called pantsula.
 

 
Another big difference is the amount of stamina involved. I used a certain amount of energy as a ballet dancer, but Mother Africa requires a lot more. Cardio needed to become one of my passions, too. I thank God every day that I’m able to be a diverse dancer!

5. Which act in Mother Africa: My Home is your favorite to watch?

Nolly DancingHonestly, all of them are my favorite, because each artist works with such focus and discipline. If I had to pick, I’d choose the smaller transition moments between each act. In these few minutes, the artists are challenged to find and connect with the idea of "home." When the transitions happen, these artists are given a freedom to move creatively, which helps the whole production grow.

6. When did you start traveling? Do you have a favorite place you've been to?

I started traveling when my professional career was just starting, at seventeen years old. It’s been a dream come true!

It’s hard to have a favorite place. Ever since I started traveling, I've always liked to stay in a country long enough to learn as much as I can about it. Then, if opportunities arise, I move on to the next one. However, Germany stole my heart five years ago, and it’s still my home to this day. So, that would have to be my favorite place... for now!

7. Why do you think it's important to teach kids about dance? 

Back in the day, dancing was ignored since most people didn't think you could make much money as a professional performer. Today, kids have the opportunity to choose something that might not be the most conventional way to earn a living, but gives them joy and happiness. Even if kids don’t pursue dance professionally, it keeps them healthy and teaches them a lot of principles like dedication and discipline. 

8. What's your favorite form of dance?

All dance forms are my favorite! I live my life through movement and, because of that, I have to be ready for all kinds of styles... and I love each and every one.
 
New Victory Thumb See Nolly in action at Mother Africa: My Home. This exciting circus spectacular runs from now until January 1st. Get your tickets here!

 
Posted by Beth Henderson
April 28, 2016

Growing Up Nock


Imagine going to work with your parents, but, instead of meetings and emails, there are high wire acts and vaudevillian gags! Thursday, April 28th is Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day, and while some kids are no doubt looking forward to a nine-to-five day at the office, kids like Annaliese Nock have had it a little better. In case her surname didn't clue you in, Annaliese's dad is none other than Bello Nock, comic daredevil and star of Bello Mania

The Nock family has been bringing the circus to town in one part of the world or another for 175 years! Annaliese is grown now, performing onstage with her dad in Bello Mania and a world record holder in her own right; but was a future of daredevildom always her plan? We recently sat down with Annaliese to learn more about what it was like "growing up Nock" in a family with such a celebrated lineage of performers.

 


Annaliese Nock hangs upside-down during her lyra act as Bello, ever the proud father, looks on with a smile.
When did you know you wanted to be a performer?
I don't think there was ever a single moment when I had that realization. I think it was just, as long as I can remember, what I wanted to do.  You have to put it into the context of my life. Performing was always my "normal." I thought that was what everyone either did or wanted to do! I still love it, and I can't think of anything else I'd rather do.

What is your earliest memory of seeing your dad perform?
That would have to be at the Big Apple Circus.  I was about a year and a half old.  I remember sitting in the seats and thinking, "I need to start stretching!"

Have you ever travelled to other parts of the world to perform with your family?
I have traveled all over the world with my family—to Japan, Australia, Russia, China and all over Europe! As soon as I was old enough, I started performing. The first place I performed was in the Ringling Bros. All Access Pre-show, where I performed my hand-balancing act. I performed a lyra act in the Big Apple Circus. Then I started practicing on the sway pole and the high wire with my dad, and finally the giant wheel. The wheel is my favorite act!  

You're part of an expansive daredevil dynasty. Do you ever feel pressure to live up to the Nock family's legacy?
Not pressure, just a drive and desire to!

When did you realize you wanted to become a daredevil?         
I think when I first started practicing on the wheel—a typically male-dominated act—I realized, "Hey, I want to do this act, and not a 'girl' version!"

When performing dangerous feats, do you ever get scared?
Yeah, but there are a lot of things in life that can be scary.  You have to push through being scared, and then the best feeling comes after you do something that once scared you!  My dad says that if you're not a little scared, something is wrong.  It's important to keep a healthy respect for the seriousness of what we do.
 
 
Bello Mania Icon Be sure to catch Annaliese Nock and the rest of the Bello Mania family performing at The New Victory Theater through May 1. See Bello hover over the audience on his show-stopping sway pole and be mesmerized by Annaliese's aerial act.
Posted by Zack Ramadan
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