Friends & Neighbors
Iliana Z. Gamez/The Daily Dispatch
Talented, inspiring, and motivated. Mary Wagner Nosek has dedicated most of her life to dance and theatre, now through her knowledge, experience, and love of the arts she is bringing talent to the younger generations of Douglas. Born in Chicago, Illinois in 1941, to talented musicians Nosek's first childhood memories began in Warrenville, ILL. However, Nosek's most heart warming memories come from the country lifestyle they lived in their 1837 farm house where they had ponies, chickens and raised crops. Her parents wanted Nosek and her two brothers to be raised in the country; there they lived a Tom Sawyer lifestyle. Nosek recalls getting up early to weed along other farm duties; she'd also swim in river hole, craw fish and go river rafting with her brothers. Nosek said, "We had the best time as kids, we were very patriotic, involved in the community and church, and were installed a love for the arts at an early age."
Leaving behind her childhood, Nosek began her professional dancing career at age 13 with the Fine Arts Ballet Company in Chicago. Dancing became her job and career, but Nosek didn't leave education behind. She later attended high school in Wheaton, ILL and after graduation she left to New York to pursue dancing. At the age of 17 she received a contract from Music Company of America (MCA) to tour throughout Canada as a ballerina for four to five months. Not surprisingly, Nosek's career grew over time but nothing would have been possible with out the formal training she'd received as a child in music, voice instruction, drama and dance.
As a professional dancer and artist Nosek has participated in the following productions and companies; the MCA Harding and Moss Review, Joffrey New York State Opera Society, Lehr Productions among others. She has received extensive training with Edna McRae and Gus Giordano of Chicago and Mme, Matt Mattox and Robert Joffrey of NYC. Nosek has danced throughout the USA and abroad in concert, theatre, top night clubs such as the Circus-Circus, and television in association with many of the greatest performers and exciting choreographers. Among these many performers are Jerome Robbins, Sammy Davis, Tony Martin, and Onna White with whom she collaborated in the early 1960's.
Dance and art had always consumed most of Nosek's life; however the most important thing to her was family. Fortunately, Nosek met Frank Nosek, a Chicago school psychologist. They shared a love for music, singing, and the arts and in 1963 Nosek married Frank at the age of 22. They were married for 13 years and had four children whom she raised in Glenn Ellyn, ILL; Alicia 42, Tod 40, Rachel 38 and Justin 35.She also had two foster children, Christopher and Preston who were teenagers when she took them into her home. Nosek said, "My children are warm-hearted, loving and generous. Each has a sense of humor and are often entertaining. It must be the show biz side of their nature which comes from both their father's and my side of the family." Nosek is very close to her children even though they now reside in Los Angeles and Chicago. In addition, Nosek has four grandsons and one granddaughter; Kyle 13, Tylor 9, Ryan 7, Austin 9 and Sienna 6 months. Nosek deeply loves all her grandchildren and though she can not be close to them physically she keeps them close to her heart and visits when possible.
Now an independent and wise woman, Nosek has enjoyed living in Douglas for 12 years. She came to Douglas in May of 1994 to care for her parents, Maxine and Warren Wagner who became ill and needed her care. Both her parents were well known in the community, her father was as professional musicians and her mother skilled dance teacher. It was after the death of both her parents that Nosek decided to reside in Douglas and open up Dance Center West. Now located on 529 11th Street, her dance studio has grown from 50 students to 120 students between Bisbee and Douglas. Nosek is very happy to continuously include dance in her and is proud of her students who do well and usually snatch up leading roles at ballet and dance auditions. Nosek said, "I love my students and they now it, but I also expect a lot out of them. Here in Douglas my goal is to give my students tools and prepare them for reality and what's expected of them professionally, I want them to succeed in every aspect of life."
Never the less, Nosek is a well rounded and accepting person and even though she has been teaching dance since 1966 she also has other endeavors in life. "During my 40's I practiced nursing and gave special care to people with disabilities in Illinois and Los Angeles. I have always enjoyed the connection between people and caring for others." . "Our family was always very involved in the community and church. My parents made sure we were knowledgeable and disciplined in the arts; they wanted us to develop talents and grow. That's why the arts are an important part of my life and I now hope to instill a love for the arts in others here in the community of Douglas, my home."