Madison woman fulfills destiny in the arts

Photos by Joshua Berry

The art of dance is something Nicole Onuszkanycz said she was born into – and even as a child she preferred her pink pointe shoes to sneakers.

Onuszkanycz owns and operates the Adonai School of Ballet in Madison. It’s her passion for the arts that drives her business and her faith in God that sustains her.

The school of ballet – which also features pointe, modern, jazz, tap classes and worship ballet classes – just finished its fifth year and its third at its current location.

“I come from a family of dancers,” Onuszkanycz said. “My mom and aunt danced; I’ve danced my whole life … When I was growing up there were not very many options beyond ballet and modern and jazz. Now there’s so many different styles.”

Onuszkanycz said her faith in God pushes her in both her business and personal life. The wife and mother of two left the arts for a brief time when she attended the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry in Pensacola, Fla. Never pursuing a career in the ministry, however, Onuszkanycz returned to her first love and found a way to make her living while doing so. “I think always, in the back of my mind, I knew I wanted to own my own dance studio,” she said.

During summer 2014, while Onuszkanycz was teaching at a friend’s studio, an opportunity arose to go into business for herself. Her friend decided to close up shop, and Onuszkanycz essentially took over under her own brand. “She had a small student base there, and I didn’t have to start from scratch … There were dozens of kids there who I had known and taught for several years, so it was perfect,” she explained. “The way it fell into my lap, my husband and I really felt like it was from the Lord. It was so easy – the whole process of getting the business stuff going.”

At the time, Onuszkanycz had just committed to homeschooling her daughters, Amelia, 8, and Violet, 5, and she said doing that while opening a business was certainly challenging. “Even though the timing was hard, it was right,” she said. “When you’re starting a business, you have to be 150 percent in, and you always have to be that way as a mother and wife. I felt like I wasn’t doing either job very well, but we got through it.”

Now a seasoned pro at running her business and managing the ins and outs of family life, Onuszkanycz and her nine teachers on staff have students who range in age from 3-73. Onuszkanycz’s mother takes classes at Adonai, too.

Faith as her guide

Onuszkanycz said when deciding on a name for her studio, she wanted to avoid having any personal credit attributed to her. “We really prayed hard about the name,” she said. “Adonai is the Hebrew name for God, and we really wanted the studio to be a place where He is given all the glory, so we wanted His name on it.”

She said she lives her life and runs her business with her faith at the forefront, noting one verse that impacts her is Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” “Everything we do – everything we say, every move we make, every song we play, everywhere we go and every performance that we do – is not about us but about Him,” the veteran dancer said. “There’s a neat movement happening in the arts, and north Alabama is becoming quite saturated with more and more faith-based studios. People are recognizing a need for that because of what the arts have become – just to bring them back to their purpose. God gave us the arts and music and dance as instruments for worship and to praise Him – not for what they’ve become.”

Community and family

Students at Onuszkanycz’s studio just finished their season, having performed their rendition of “Snow White” recently. The studio uses the auditorium at James Clemens High School for shows that are open to the public. Students also visit area nursing homes around the holiday season to share their art with the community. “I think what sets us apart is where our heart is,” Onuszkanycz said. “All of our teachers have the same heart for the arts and ballet: to use them for their original purpose to worship, celebrate and honor Him.”

Students who are interested in joining the school can email or stop by the studio on Palmer Road in Madison.