Diana Madrigal-Barnitz (School Artistic Director) a New Orleans native, has studied ballet since the age of three. She began her training at the Myra Mier School of Ballet under the direction of Myra Mier in Kenner, Louisiana. At the age of thirteen, Diana joined the Jefferson Ballet Theatre where she performed many roles including Spanish Coffee from The Nutcracker, Jeremy Fisher from Tales of Beatrix Potter, Summer Fairy from Cinderella, Wicked Stepmother from Hansel and Gretel. As a trainee, Diana attended several summer intensive programs where she studied under Edward Villella, Susan Anderson, Marcus Alford, and Cindy Flach to name a few. At the age of fifteen, Diana started her instructor training in the Vaganova Method under Myra Mier.As a senior in high school, Diana participated in The Junior Philharmonic Society of New Orleans Performance series and was awarded the John Tobin Award for outstanding performance of Esperanza from Tarde en La Siesta.
Diana attended Loyola University New Orleans where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations with a minor in marketing in 2006. After graduation; Diana worked with Centerplate at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and Smoothie King Arena as Suite Sales Executive Assistant. In the fall of 2013, Diana rejoined the dance community by opening the doors to The Studio School of Dance in Metairie, Louisiana. Diana returned to the stage in the spring of 2014 and danced with D’Project’s in their production of Let’s Dance: A Modern Tribute to the Music of David Bowie. In the summer of 2014, Diana joined Storytellers Dance Project as one of its founding members. In October of the same year, Diana portrayed one of the lead roles in their first full length production titled, “Say, You Got the Password?”
As a teacher, Diana’s students have been accepted to pre-professional summer intensive programs that include Houston Ballet, Orlando Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Nashville Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre. Her students have participated in internationally renowned ballet competitions such as Youth American Grand Prix and the Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition.
Diana hopes to continue to promote the art of ballet as well as giving dancers the opportunity to express themselves through dance.
Rebecca Allen (Modern, Adult Ballet) is originally from Kenner, Louisiana, where she began her dance training with Myra Mier and the Jefferson Ballet Theatre. She studied both dance and the visual arts at Loyola University and the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts. In 2001, she received her B.A. in Cultural Studies from the University of New Orleans. That same year, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee where she has worked as an artist and educator for the past 16 years with organizations such as the Nashville Ballet, Vanderbilt University, and Metro Parks Dance Division. In 2004 she became the assistant director to modern dance company StillPoint Dance Theatre and performed with the company for 7 years.
Thereafter, she began collaborating as a dancer and instructor with Banning Bouldin and New Dialect, an internationally recognized contemporary dance collective based in Nashville, since the collective’s inception in 2012, and more recently as a rehearsal assistant and choreographer.
Her most recent works include Kat 5, a commission by Intersection New Music Ensemble in collaboration with New Dialect and premiered at the Platform in Nashville in April 2016, and Lighthouse, a collaboration with Intermission and New Dialect, which premiered at Monthaven Mansion in Hendersonville, Tennessee in 2017.
She maintains a studio (RA | Studio) where she designs and creates her own line of functional ceramics. In her work as a multi-disciplinary artist, Becky loves to explore the intersection of her experience with the visual arts and dance.
Derwin was raised in Jackson, MS where he was introduced to performing arts at a young age. He later pursued a Bachelor of Arts in Dance at Belhaven University studying classical ballet and contemporary where he received the Daniel award for Outstanding Achievement. During his time at Belhaven he performed several guest artist works from choreographers such as: Ryan Corriston of Doug Varone and Dancers, Vincent Hardy of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and Bobby Wesner of Neos Dance Theatre. He also performed several historical works such as: ‘Songs of the Disinherited’ by Donald McKayle and ‘Negro Spirituals’ by Helen Tamiris. During his time at Belhaven he traveled to workshops and conventions where he received hiphop training by well acclaimed choreographers such as: Sean Bankhead, Ki Ki Ely, and Jungle Boogie. Derwin has used his training to offer the first adult level pre-professional and professional hiphop lessons at Epic Dance and Fitness Studio in Ridgeland, Mississippi. Derwin has also used his performing arts education to choreograph works for various social events, ministry, and outreach programs: such as the Young, Gifted, and Empowered Gala, Women Rock Awards, Autism Awareness Gala, and Shining Light Ministries. Derwin recently traveled to Malawi, Africa in Summer 2017 with Kinetic Etchings Dance Project to teach ballet and perform with the African Bible College and Salama Africa Dance group. He is currently in his first season with Marigny Opera Ballet and Artivism Dance Theatre in New Orleans, Louisiana and continues to grow and use his experiences as his inspiration in his teachings, on stage, and within his choreography.
Sarah Pickering (Yoga) grew up dancing ballet and jazz in Chapel Hill, NC. College took her to Stanford, CA where she continued her dance training and was a member of Cardinal Ballet Company. While in college, Sarah took her first yoga class and instantly felt improved strength and sense of body awareness. Her love for yoga led her to complete a 200hr yoga teacher training in 2012. Since then she has earned her doctor of Physical Therapy and loves to incorporate her love of dance and understanding of the human body into her yoga classes.
Leighann Kowalsky (Guest Teacher Modern/Contemporary) is a dance artist and a producer. She choreographs and performs Irish & Contemporary dance with the d’amby project, Hawkins style of Modern Dance with Erick Hawkins Dance Company, and independently with individual artists including painters, photographers and sculptors. Kowalsky is currently the Director for Dance at Millbrook School & Executive Director at the d’amby project. Collaborative in nature, Kowalsky teams up both onstage and behind stage with dancers and artists of all genres & traditions to create new and exciting interdisciplinary work. Production credits have included IheartRadio Music Festival, The Tony Awards & NBA All Star Game. Performance venues have included Jacob’s Pillow’s Inside/Out Stage, The Queen Elizabeth Theater in Vancouver, B.C., The Fisher Center for Performing Arts at Bard College, and a residency term at DANCEHOUSE in Dublin, Ireland.
Elizabeth Van Alstyne, (Guest Teacher,Pilates Instructor) former dancer, and Power Pilates certified instructor has been teaching Pilates and movement since 2003. Her specialties include working with young dancers to create strong, healthy bodies and helping them learn how to keep their bodies functioning at the highest level possible. Elizabeth graduated from Indiana university with a B.S. in ballet performance under the guidance of Violette Verdy, and went on to dance with the Nashville Ballet, and Ballet Austin II. After realizing she needed a more rigorous conditioning routine, Elizabeth enrolled, and completed over 600 hrs of apprenticeship and teaching, through Power Pilates of New York. Since moving back to Louisiana, she has taught full time at Romney Pilates Center and now at The Studio School of Dance. She is available to teach large or small groups, as well as private sessions in home or studio space
Abdelazis Roque (Naples Dance Conservatory/Guest Teacher- Ballet, Floor Barre, Pointe)received his training at the Professional School of the Arts in Camaguey, Cuba. After graduating in 1992, he danced with many companies, including:
- Ballet de Camaguey
- Ballet Pro Danza – Havana, Cuba
- Miami City Ballet
- Miami Hispanic Ballet
- Southern Ballet Theatre (Currently Known as “Orlando Ballet”)
- Ballet Theatre of Chicago-Lexington Ballet
- The Washington Ballet
- Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rico
- Chicago Festival Ballet
- Chicago Lyric Opera
Among other roles, Mr. Roque has performed Le Corsaire, Don Quixote, La Fille Mal Gardee, Coppelia, Pas de Deux Classique, La Bayadere, Flower Festival of Gensano, Carmen (Don Jose), The Cavalier in The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Paquita, Diana and Acteon, Flame of Paris and Sleeping Beauty as well as a variety of contemporary and modern work. After becoming a freelance dancer and teacher, Mr. Roque worked as a principal guest artist with several companies and taught dance to young talents across the country. In addition, several guest instructors are invited throughout the year to teach specialized workshops to Conservatory students
Adeline Melcher (Guest Teacher) began her ballet training in New Orleans, Louisiana under the guidance of Myra Mier. She attended several ballet summer intensive programs, including Kirov Academy of Ballet, American Ballet Theater NYC, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Sarasota Ballet, School of American Ballet, Houston Ballet and Texas Ballet Theater. At 16, she became a student of Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy. There she performed in Serenade by George Balanchine, Graduation Ball by David Lichine, Ladies and Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra by Stanton Welch and The Nutcracker by Ben Stevenson. She is in her second season with Texas Ballet Theater.
Leigh M. Brockman Horowitz ( Guest Teacher, Storytellers DANCE Project, Founder and Artistic Director) began her classical ballet and character training under Bobbe Willard at the Lelia Haller School of Classical Ballet. Ms. Horowitz continued her movement and theater training at Mount Carmel Academy by performing and working backstage through their STK program (theater and musical theater), at that time under the direction of Liz Argus. Ms. Horowitz, while attending Mary Washington College (Fredericksburg, VA), also studied and performed in Swing Dance, in MWC’s Theater for Social Justice and in the MWC Chorus under Dr. Stephen Burton. Upon graduation, Ms. Horowitz moved to Omak, WA as a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, where she began teaching children Musical Theater style dance, as well as beginning ballet through the JVC program. She also studied, taught, stage managed and performed for the LFW School of Dance, The Traveling Globe Shakespeare Theater and the OVAC Orchestra and Chorus, appearing and/ or working shows such as “The Nutcracker,” “Cinderella,” “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” “The Man of La Mancha,” “As You Like It” and “Crazy for You.” After returning to the New Orleans area in 2000, Ms. Horowitz began her training in the Vaganova Syllabus (Russian Syllabus) at Loyola University New Orleans under Gayle Parmelee and Laura Zambrano. Ms. Horowitz continues her Vaganova Syllabus teacher training under Maestro Vladimir Issaev at the Arts Ballet Theater of Florida (Miami, FL), earning her teaching certifications in Years I-IV of the Vaganova Syllabus. Ms. Horowitz taught at Dance, Etc. in Reserve, LA from 2003-2011, where her students and choreographies won many Platinum (and higher) and Special Recognition Awards at competitions such as Showbiz Talent Competition, Showstoppers and Hall of Fame Dance Challenge. Ms. Horowitz also danced for and toured both nationally and internationally, as a soloist and corps member, with the Komenka Ethnic Dance and Music Ensemble for 13 years. Ms. Horowitz currently teaches the Levels I, II, IV, Pointe and Contemporary Classes for Loyola University New Orleans, while choreographing and performing for D’Project, Inc., as well as launching and becoming the Director of her own contemporary dance company, Storytellers DANCE Project.