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Mary Lou is the founder, Artistic Director Emeritus of Sheffield School of the Dance. At age 5, Mary Lou began studying tap, ballet, and acrobatics and went on to perform in many local shows. In 1943, at age 13, Mary Lou began teaching dance to four neighborhood children in her family’s living room. Within a year, she was teaching 12 students. At the age of 16, she enrolled in the School of American Ballet. She spent summers in New York but would return to Mobile in the fall to go to school and continue to teach dance.


The school began to grow and expand. She had 100 students while attending high school. During the summer of 1949 she was given an opportunity to tour with “The Manhattan Rockets” staring the legendary Ben Blue.

Mary Lou Sheffield-Noletto

Mary Lou Sheffield-Noletto

Artistic Director Emeritus 

In 1950, Mary Lou opened her first studio in downtown Mobile, and four years later, after marrying Herbert Noletto, she moved the studio to their home at Dauphin Street and Rickarby Place. Working at the Mobile Theatre Guild with Father Anthony Zoghby she choreographed many musicals and received the Saint Genesius Award for outstanding achievement.


In 1993, she was honored by the City of Mobile with a Key to the City and “Mary Lou Sheffield-Noletto Day” honoring her 50 Years of Dance Excellence. In 2011, she was recognized with the honor of 50 years of membership with Dance Masters of America. In 2013, she celebrated 70 Years of Excellence at “Showtime 2013” sharing the stage with over 130 past and present Sheffield Dancers in a spectacular Reunion Finale. The anniversary also saw a featured spread in the International Publication, Dance Studio Life Magazine, showcasing Sheffield School of the Dance as a “Studio With Staying Power.” She continues to be an advisor to Sheffield School of the Dance and encouraging excellence.

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