Diana Madrigal-Barnitz (Artistic Director) began her training at the Myra Mier School of Ballet under the direction of Myra Mier at the age of 3. After many years of training, 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, and Wicked Stepmother from Hansel and Gretel. She spent her summers studying with several distinguished teachers of the dance community, including Edward Villella, Anna-Marie Holmes, Susan Anderson, Marcus Alford, Stanislav Issaev, and Cindy Flach to name a few.
At the age of 15, Diana started her instructor training in the Vaganova Method under Myra Mier and in 2016 completed her training with Mr. John White and Mrs. Margarita de Saa White of the Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet.
Diana attended Loyola University New Orleans where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations with a minor in Marketing. After graduation, Diana worked with Centerplate at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and Smoothie King Arena as Suite Sales Executive Assistant. She coordinated many events including, NCAA Final Four, Sugar Bowl, BCS Championship, and Super Bowl XLVII
In the fall of 2013, Diana rejoined the dance community by opening the doors to The Studio School of Dance. As a teacher and coach, her students have been accepted to pre-professional summer intensive programs that include Houston Ballet, Orlando Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Boston Ballet, The Rock School for Dance Education and American Ballet Theatre.
Diana’s students have also participated in internationally renowned ballet competitions such as Youth American Grand Prix, Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition and World Ballet Competition. This past January, Diana’s ensemble work titled, Ave Maria, placed top 12 in the Dallas Regional YAGP, making it The Studio’s first nationally recognized choreography.
In the fall of 2017, Diana founded NOLA DANCE PROJECT, a non-profit youth dance company with a mission to enhance and enrich the local dance community. With its creation, Diana has explored the idea of choreography and has premiered three unique works entitled, Ballet Sinfonia, The Stories of Mother Goose and Chromatics.
Derwin May Jr. (Contemporary, Boys Hip Hop) 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 Noelle Prescott (Adult Ballet) is a dancer, choreographer, and teacher who believes in the intrinsic value of art and the incalculable importance of dance. Prescott achieved a BFA in dance performance and choreography from Belhaven University in 2017 where she graduated with honors and received the Bezalel Award for outstanding artistic achievement. In addition to her work as a performer, Prescott has choreographed numerous original works independently for various showcases, concerts, and festivals including the American College Dance Association Regional Gala Concert, the Mississippi Museum of Art gallery opening of When Modern was Contemporary, The Mississippi Lights Festival, and Artivism Dance Theatre’s MOVEment for Change. Prescott is a former dancer and choreographer for Kinetic Etchings Dance Project with whom she traveled to Malawi, Africa to perform, teach, and engage in cultural dance exchanges. Upon moving to New Orleans, Prescott joined the Marigny Opera Ballet for their 2017-2018 season and is continuing to pursue artistic opportunities to create, share, and inspire dance which challenges and stimulated minds, hearts, and imagination.
Tess Losada (Pilates) is a third generation classical Pilates teacher and a professional dancer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance Performance, and a comprehensive Pilates certification through Alycea Ungaro’s Real Pilates NYC. Tess truly believes that as Joseph Pilates said, change happens through movement, and movement heals. She strives to help her clients create change in their bodies and minds through Pilates. Tess enjoys the challenge of working with all kinds of special clients; athletes, the elderly, joint replacements, chronic back problems, pre-professional and professional dancers.
Ainsley Saleun, born in New York City, moved to New Orleans with her family at the age of 3. She was introduced to ballet at the New Orleans Dance Academy where she learned her very first steps. At the age of 7, Ainsley joined the Schramel Conservatory of Dance where she continued her studies for the next 5 years. At 11 years-old, she informed her family that she was going to be a professional ballerina. Over the next two years, she trained under numerous well known ballet teachers in New Orleans, including Diana Madrigal- Barnitz from The Studio School of Dance and Karen Hebert from Encore Studio of Dance, Tumbling, Music, & Theatre.
In 2015, under the coaching of Diana Madrigal-Barnitz, Ainsley competed in Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition and Youth America Grand Prix. At 13, she attended her first 7-week summer intensive program at Orlando Ballet and was selected for their year round program. Over the past 4 years, Ainsley has performed in numerous showcases, including Orlando Ballet’s The Nutcracker. Ainsley has trained at the American Ballet Theatre New York Summer Program, Pacific Northwest Ballet- Seattle Summer Program, and has been accepted into other numerous summer intensive programs.
Peter Barnitz received his MFA from the University of New Orleans in 2011 and his BFA from Loyola University of New Orleans in 2004. In 2012 he established the Barnitz Academy of Fine Arts, where he instructs art workshops for children and adults. He is currently a member of the TEN Gallery in New Orleans, LA and works as the Art Director and artist-in-residence at Kenner Discovery Health and Sciences Academy. In 2014, Mr. Barnitz was appointed to the Kenner Rivertown Arts Council, where he serves as the Chairman. He was born and raised in Metairie, LA and currently lives and works out of his home studio in Kenner, LA.
Mr. Barnitz has exhibited his work in selected group and solo exhibitions around the United States and the world, including the 2016 Art Fields Exhibition in Lake City, South Carolina, the 2015 Exposure Nature Collection at the Musee du Louvre in Paris France, the 2015 Louisiana Contemporary Exhibition, curated by Brooke Davis Anderson, at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, as well as, a Finalist in the 2015 Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series Finale – National Juried Exhibition at the SCOPE International Contemporary Art Show in Miami Beach, Florida.
Outside of the art world, Mr. Barnitz was a four year letterman and former team captain of the Loyola University of New Orleans Men’s Basketball Team and a member of the Loyola WolfPack Track & Field Team (1999-2003). He is currently the head coach of the Kenner Discovery Boy’s Basketball Program
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.
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 fourth season with Texas Ballet Theater.
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.
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
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.