Benson Academy of Dance - Marion Ballet Theatre

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Dance, Family, Community



About Us

Benson Academy of Dance is more than a dance school—it is a member of Marion County's thriving cultural community. Together with Marion Ballet Theatre—our multifaceted performing dance company—we support many community events and programs. We also do extensive community outreach targeted at local schools, especially in underprivileged communities. Of course, none of this would be possible without all our wonderful dancers, parents, supporters, and volunteers.

Marion Ballet Theatre

Nutcracker Event

A Dance Family

When you become a student at Benson Academy of Dance, you become part of an extended dance family. Our instructors act as mentors to our students, helping them become who they want to be.

A Complete Dance Education

At Benson Academy of Dance, you will receive a fully structured dance education with professional training. Many of our students have gone on to professional careers with dance companies around the world. We take dance seriously, and we pride ourselves on training real dancers who have respect for themselves and the art. We take a holistic approach to teaching that incorporates the mind, body, and spirit. Our goal is to develop individuals to have a critical and appreciative eye with an indepth understanding of artistic practice.

School Performances

At Benson Academy of Dance, we believe that dance is a great way of engaging young people in their communities, developing their social skills, and introducing them to the performing arts. We regularly bus in students from underprivileged schools for special performances. This program is funded by the City of Ocala.

Nicole Benson - Owner & Artistic Director

Nicole Benson began dancing at a very early age that continued throughout high school and college. She attended the University of Florida, earning a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Clinical Health and Rehabilitative Medicine. While studying she continued dancing professionally. After graduating, she pursued a career in the hospital setting where she worked as a Rehabilitative Clinician and Administrator.

Nicole went on to obtain a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Education and Performance from SUNY Purchase and began teaching at local studios and schools in NYC while performing contemporary dance with several artists and companies globally. She also served as a faculty member and professor of dance at Adelphi University.

Nicole Benson

Upon returning to the Ocala community, she became the Owner and Artistic Director of Benson Academy of Dance. Nicole has directed the studio and performing dance company for more than 15 years. In addition, she also enjoys working as a Professor of Dance at the College of Central Florida. Nicole feels very blessed to have students of all ages that share in her passion for dance.

Most recently, Nicole obtained her certification in Arts in Medicine from the University of Florida. This program focuses on the use of dance and other interdisciplinary art forms as healing modalities in senior citizens' centers, community wellness centers, and social program throughout the community. She sees this as a chance to use her background in dance and education in the context of healing. Nicole's belief and mission is to use art to help people of all ages within communities to live longer and enhance the quality of lives.

Education, Awards & Certifications:

  • Bachelor of Science
  • Master of Fine Arts
  • Arts in Medicine Certified
  • Featured in Dance Teacher Magazine
  • Recipient of 2018 - Community Arts Partner Award from CF (College of Central Florida) 
Nicole Benson At Work