Local Woman Receives National Award

By: Dwayne Wilder
Local Business Woman Receives National Award Illona Nogaar, of Denison, was named a 2016 ‘Distinguished Professional’ by the Expert Network in recent weeks. Nogaar, who owns and operates the Denison Dance Academy on Main Street, has been an active member of the downtown community for six years. “I am very honored to be recognized for my work,” said Nogaar from her studio. “I was invited to go to the ceremony in New York, but was unable to attend. It is such an honor.” Nogarr is no stranger to awards as she strives for excellence in ballet in every aspect of her life. She was recognized by the National Council of American Executives in 2014 and “Women of Distinction” featured her in an article in 2015. The “Distinguished Professional” award – in part – notes that Nogarr ‘through multiphase efforts has shown leadership, knowledge and recognition’ in the business industry. The well-deserved national recognition doesn’t go unnoticed, according to other downtown members. “Illona is a valuable member of our downtown Denison business community,” said Donna Dow, Denison Main Street Program director. “We are grateful for her sharing those business contacts with us.” “She is a great ambassador for our arts and cultural district as well,” continued Dow. According to Nogarr, the DDA is ‘going well’ even though it is a ‘small’ school for dance/ballet. “We have dedicated students who are serious about ballet,” said Nogarr. “I am strict, but those who stay like what we are doing.” Since opening in 2010, the academy has staged annual performances of “The Nutcracker,” “Cinderella,” and “Snow White.” Usually with the help of Nogarr’s daughter and son-in-law, Darli Iakovleva and Anton Inkovlev, both professional dancers. “Right now, I have my daughter with me for a summer intensive program for our students,” explained Nogarr. “They are working hard and doing well. I think it will benefit them to do it.” After dancing in various locations across the U.S., Darli and Anton will dance for “Theatre Vanemuine” in Tartu, Estonia, where the duo and Nogarr are from. “We are dancing there through the 2017 season,” said Darli, who is in town completing the summer program at DDA. Nogarr was excited to announce that two of her ballet students would be competing in the Youth American Grand Prix in February. “I used to take Darli to it years ago,” said Nogarr. “This is the biggest ballet competition; only the best are there.” Nogarr smiled and offered some insight into her drive for the academy’s success and her student’s work. “We are serious; very serious,” she said. “But we do have fun, too.”

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