Nicole Hamilton completed the assaulted women’s and children’s counsellor/advocate (AWCCA) program from George Brown College (GBC) 14 years ago. She is now the managing director of Inica Dance Industries (I.D.I), Toronto.
There is no mismatch here.
Hamilton was always a dancer. At the age of nine, she started studying at the Burlington Dance company, directed by Cheryl Bodrug. After a few years, she moved on to train at Dancers Incorporated, also in Burlington.
“It was then I decided that I need to take my dance career to a serious level,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton got her teachers certificate from Dance Masters Canada and has been teaching for the past 20 years.
While she was building up her career in dance she took on a lot of teaching and assisting jobs which came along the way at different dance schools. Hamilton moved to Ottawa where she was a faculty member at the Ottawa Dance Academy and Aylmer Dance Academy. These experiences helped her get an understanding of the business.
Hamilton also wanted to do something within the area of counselling services. She studied social work and took several other courses at Ottawa and Carleton University.
Moving back to Toronto, she started her AWCCA program from GBC in 1998. “One would wonder, here you are dancing throughout your life and all of a sudden making a shift to take on AWCCA,” she says.
“At that time it was actually the Nightingale Campus at GBC. I was trying to determine really and truly how I wanted my career to go. I wanted to be a mental health counsellor and at the same time I wanted a career in dance,” said Hamilton. “After I graduated, I made a conscious decision to pull the counselling and my dance experience together and open up a school where I can offer both. At our company we do indeed offer counselling sessions along with our regular dance programs. It allows us to get the best of both the worlds.”
According to Hamilton, there are many issues that a dancer can go through such as transition to an alternate career after a physical injury, lifestyle issues, eating disorders, violence, gender issues, and self-confidence issues that can be daunting for a dancer to deal with.
“The best part here (I.D.I) is that the counsellors are also dancers who understand what the students are dealing with.”
Hamilton is a mental health counsellor at I.D.I and teaches various forms of dance. She has been trained in tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop, contemporary, modern, lyrical, musical theatre, Afro-Caribbean, West African and liturgical (worship).
Faculty member at I.D.I, Mallory Dunlop who studied commercial dance studies at GBC in 2011-2012 said “She (Nicole) is a very professional and well-spoken woman. Kids really love her and also the atmosphere.” Dunlop teaches acrobatics at the academy.
Jorge Cantor, 18, a student at I.D.I said, “I want to take dance as a hobby/career in the future. Nicole teaches me in West African and contemporary. She is great. She is not only strict about things that are necessary for a dancer but also a cool person to be around. She is not a teacher but a friend.”
Hamilton has close connection to GBC, she has offered her services to mentor students at the college. She has also offered a 50 per cent discount for GBC students currently which enables students to take classes for $7.50 each.
Hamilton mentions that the pressure of accomplishing good grades, family dynamics and relationships can sometimes be difficult for students, while going through school.
“But as a student if you stick to your vision, and continue walking towards it, you can definitely achieve your goal,” said Hamilton.
For dancers who want to make it their career, Hamilton emphasizes that dancers have many options available. Today one might be teaching at a dance school, tomorrow they can be abroad, judging a dance competition or speaking at a dance conference.
On her own future plans she said, “I look forward to building more dance, and health education programs for dance artists. It’s been an exciting journey at I.D.I and I am eagerly looking forward to what the future holds for the company, and our faculty.”