Co-founders of THE Modern Dance Company share their Toledo stories
Ashley (Nowak) Hill
Years lived in Toledo: approximately 35
My story, in one sentence: Art is Love.
Most people know me for: my passion for dance and art.
I wish more people knew me for: my passion for championing causes that affect the wellbeing of our community – collaborative efforts that use art as the emotional component to affect change … the misson of #themoderndanceco.
The best thing I’ve ever eaten in Toledo was: lobster at Mancy’s Steakhouse on my 21st birthday.
The best time I ever had in Toledo: recently at the Durty Bird impromptu dancing with the UT pep band and then again at Manhattan’s dancing with the dance company and guest artists.
If I could change one thing about Toledo: making more buildings accessible.
If I knew I could get away with it, I would: open a bistro.
The best view in Toledo: The Heights in the Renaissance Hotel.
When I’m craving solitude, I go to a Metropark.
The artists and musicians I love: Toledo Opera, TSA Jazz Ensemble, Toledo Repertoire Theatre, The Arts Commission, Bird’s Eye View Circus.
My ideal day looks like, from morning to night: Wake Up – have coffee, spend time with my kiddos, write, create, cook, go to rehearsal, meet for a drink with my husband, have dinner at home, wake up inspired and repeat.
What makes me truly feel alive: Shared creativity, brainstorm sessions, making connections with other causes also, my kids/family!
The last time I had a serious-oh-my-god-my-stomach-hurts belly laugh was: After hours meetings with my partner Allie Batey.
When I was in high school, I probably would have been described as: dramatic.
(If you were an animal) Hunter or gatherer: gatherer— but I love the Bjork song.
What I’m listening to: A Christmas Carol, Chicago, Deep Forest and Peppa Pig.
On a typical day, I wear: “dance clothes” – they work well as mom clothes too.
I could sum up my personal style with these five words: “Let’s change all of this.”
I feel my best when wearing: Evening gowns— why don’t I have more of those?
Years lived in Toledo: My whole life! I was born at Toledo Hospital, went to and graduated from The University of Toledo, worked at The University of Toledo Medical Center, and now I am the president, co-founder, choreographer, and business director for THE Modern Dance Company in downtown Toledo.
My story, in one sentence: I am a wife, mother, choreographer, nurse, volunteer, and a boss; I have never been afraid of a challenge.
One song lyric to describe my ideal self: “Say what you want to say/And let the words fall out Honestly I want to see you be brave”
Most people know me for: Being a dancing nurse. With twelve years nursing and seventeen years dance-instructing and choreographing experience, I don’t have much time to be known for anything else!
The best thing I’ve ever eaten in Toledo was: Pork Belly at Registry Bistro. I used to work with Chef Erika at Diva back in the day. She is Toledo’s best chef!
The best time I ever had in Toledo: I enjoy connecting with all the amazing artists in The Secor Building!
The best view in Toledo: On the balcony on the 8th Floor of the PNC Bank Building on Madison Ave. It is where I met my husband in 2005.
When I’m craving nachos and margaritas, I go to Carlos Poco Loco OR La Fiesta.
The Toledoan I most admire: My artistic director of THE Modern Dance Company, Ashley Hill. Her choreography and her vision of Toledo’s first professional modern dance company is transcendent. She truly is one of the strongest women I have ever met.
The reason I am most proud of myself right now: I have been taking care of myself more and listening to my body. For too long I was always go-go-go and didn’t take time for myself. Lately, I have learned the word “No.”
What makes me truly feel alive: Vacationing with my family. Their energy and love is truly what I need to reset and get back to the day-day.
The Toledoan I’ve met in passing that I’d love to get coffee with: Katie Moline— she grew up in the West End with my hubby and danced on Central’s dance team with my business partner Ashley. Over the years we have crossed paths and have been meaning to get together and touch base about life in Toledo.
The hardest decision I have made in the past year: Quitting my contingent lead nurse job at The University of Toledo Medical Center. I worked there for twelve years and finally decided to dive into directing THE Modern Dance Company and having holidays and weekends open with my family.
The last time I had a serious-oh-my-god-my-stomach-hurts belly laugh was when: Every time I have a pow wow with AD Ashley Hill. Laughing with her is the best medicine.
When I was in high school, I probably would have been described as: Overbearing hippie who is too eager to answer questions in class.
(If you were an animal) Hunter or gatherer: Hunter, posed as a gatherer
If you could have a drink with any person or character— fictional, real, living or past— who would it be, what would you drink, and why? Whiskey on the rocks with my grandfather, who passed away two weeks before I was born. My grandmother told me she saw a lot of him in me. I would have loved to have had a cocktail with him.
My favorite local people to follow on social media are: Pat McCarthy, Guy in the 419 and The Mayor: Wade Kapszukiewicz.
On a typical day, I wear: Black leggings, lipstick, an oversized shirt and sports bra…you never know when a dance party is going to happen!
The type of garment or accessory that I have the most of: Dance pants/yoga pants— over 60 pairs.
The fashion risk I wish I took sooner Less makeup, more smiles!!!