New: The Nevada Arts Academy

By Hal de Becker


It has been said that history judges a civilization by its art. The same might be said about a nation or even a city.Las Vegas Strip resort productions are frequently artistic but usually their publicity and spectacle is so overwhelming it tends to obscure the City’s more conventional but nevertheless numerous professional and non-professional art activities.

Many Las Vegas-based, founded and funded dance companies, theatre groups, art exhibits, musical soloists and ensembles have long been available to the local public, some of them for decades. What is new, however, is the Nevada Arts Academy (NAA) where high quality instruction in dance, music, painting and design is now available in a single state of the art facility.


NAA’s curriculum includes music theory and instrumental training in piano, violin, viola and guitar; all forms of dance, taught on floating, low-impact, Marley-covered floors; drawing, painting, fashion and interior design. Students range from children to adults all of whom take part in dance performances, music recitals, art exhibits and competitions. When available, scholarships are offered to qualified applicants.

The academy’s founder and overall director is Jie Bu who holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master degree in music and whose studies in China and the USA included piano performance, composition and conducting.He is the recipient of numerous awards and competition prizes.

After graduating from China’s Shanghai Conservatory of Music he joined the faculty of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing where he taught studio piano and class piano.He has also conducted piano classes at UNLV in Las Vegas.His teaching career has spanned two decades and many of his students have gained prominence on the local and international music scene.

Maestro Bu has performed as soloist with major orchestras and chamber groups in China and America.He has founded several music organizations in Las Vegas and Henderson and has assisted Nevada Ballet Theatre and Nevada Opera Theatre as accompanist.He is frequently invited to adjudicate competitions and to give master classes and lectures throughout the USA and the Far East.

The dance division’s director is Luz Morante whose professional career began in Peru with that country’s principal ballet company, Ballet Municipal de Lima.She has performed in most of the ballet classics and has worked with renowned dance figures from Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Ballet de Cuba and Nevada Ballet Theatre.In addition to teaching dance in California and Las Vegas, she has choreographed and staged a number of local “Nutcracker” productions.

As the academy’s co-director, Russian trained Sergey Popov also brings impressive knowledge and experience to the dance division. He has won numerous ballet awards and has performed worldwide in the leading ‘Prince’ roles of “Swan Lake,” “Sleeping Beauty” and “The Nutcracker.” For many years he was principal dancer with Nevada Ballet Theatre. In addition to his participation at NAA he conducts guest classes throughout the USA and has taught dance at the College of Southern Nevada since 1999.

Ella Gourkova is the academy’s ballet mistress.She is a graduate of the prestigious Vaganova Institute of Russia’s Kirov Ballet.Of the 200 girls who auditioned with her for acceptance into that hallowed school she alone was accepted. She became principal dancer of the Donetsk Theatre of Opera and Dance and toured internationally with stars of Russia’s Bolshoi and St. Petersburg ballet companies.

After a USA tour she joined Nevada Ballet Theatre where she was principal dancer for five years.She taught ballet and character dance at NBT’s academy for ten years during which time she also provided choreography for its annual productions.

In December NAA’s dance division performs “The Nutcracker” ballet and, in an innovative move, will cast only young children and teens in all the major solo roles as well as the corps de ballet positions.This approach is taken so as to give all the youngsters opportunities to display and develop their talents.

The art division is headed by Tom Machacyk, a master of numerous mediums and styles, including drawing, painting, graphics, murals and even cartoons and animation.

The latter served him well when he became an art director for the Walt Disney Company in Florida.

As he has written, his dedication to teaching art to children springs from his belief that, “Children who do not experience the arts are missing so much.”He also notes that art is, “…scientifically proven to augment the learning of other subjects such as math and science.”He is a committed advocate for art as a healthy means of self expression for youngsters in addition to the professional career possibilities it offers them.

More information about Nevada Arts Academy and its upcoming ‘Nutcracker’ production is available at and by calling (702) 248-1288.