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, 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.
Jaci Granger (Jazz & Contemporary ) – Since the age of 12, Ms. Granger has been dancing at her home studio in Sulphur, LA. She has trained in many different styles including tap, jazz, ballet, contemporary, lyrical, hip hop, and musical theatre. She grew up as a competitive dancer in Southwest Louisiana, earning numerous scholarships and best dancer titles from various competitions and conventions. Throughout high school, she participated in competitive dance, conventions, and summer intensives such as the Houston Met and Joffrey Ballet. She continued her training in college by traveling with companies for conventions such as Streetz Dance and LADM. With this experience she was able to tour the country, helping to run shows, as well as, dance and assisting choreographers such as Albert Cattafi, Jackie Sleight, and Jim Nowakowski. During this time, Jaci also taught at several studios in Lafayette. At the beginning 0f 2022, Ms. Granger moved to New Orleans to seek new adventures, becoming a full-time teacher and recovering from hip surgery. Jaci Granger is currently attending school online and officially back to dancing with a local dance company in addition to teaching at The Studio. Ms. Granger is excited to be able to share her passion for dance with her students and looks forward to growing more into the arts and in life!
Mariangel Mendoza Dollis (Latin) dance career has its roots in Maracaibo, Venezuela. She began studying modern dance and ballet at the age of 6. She trained with DANZALUZ for ten years before moving with her family to New Orleans in 1997. Mariangel graduated from N.O.C.C.A. (New Orleans Center of Creative Arts) two years later. Her passion for dance would not stop there. She fell in love with Salsa in 2001 and has not looked back since.
Mariangel has managed to achieve a level a salsa many dancers aspire to reach. Her technical dance background has been infused with her smooth and sexy style of salsa to create a beautiful work of moving art. Mariangel has traveled across the U.S. performing and teaching Salsa with Liquid Rhythm Inc. for the past decade
Connie Bourgoyne (Tumbling) is a former gymnast and cheerleader. She attended Southern Indiana Gymnastics. Connie started her career as an instructor in 1988 where she worked in after-school gymnastics recreation programs and Tumblebus in New Albany Indiana. In 1993 she started teaching at Tops Gymnastics in La Place, La. In 1995 Connie was invited to Indianapolis, In to participate in an ad hoc committee to develop the Kinder Accreditation for Teachers. There she became the first KAT accredited instructor in the state. Connie launched her own Tumblebus in 1997 and also began teaching tumbling for St Charles Parish Community Education. From 2012 to 2021 Connie has been the tumbling instructor and also the 20-21 studio operating manager at Dancetera in Norco. She is certified in Safety/Risk Management through USA Gymnastics and has completed the MELPD and Preschool Fundamentals Theory. We are thrilled to have her join our staff this year.
Vivian Palmer (Adult Ballet) is a New Orleans native that first discovered classical ballet when she attended the Myra Mier School of Ballet and Jefferson Ballet Theatre under the direction of Myra Mier. At the age of 9, she joined Encore Dance Studio where she not only began pursuing dance seriously but was also introduced to Tap instructor, Heidi Malnar. At the age of 13, Vivian returned to classical ballet when she joined The Studio School of Dance. In 2016, Vivian attended The Rock School for Dance Education’s Summer Intensive. She has also been selected for American Ballet Theatre’s Fall Workshops for Le Bayadere and Sleeping Beauty, Texas Ballet Theater’s Summer Intensive in June, and Kaatsbaan Extreme Ballet Intensive. She has represented The Studio in several competitions including, Youth America Grand Prix, Junior Philharmonic Society of New Orleans, World Ballet Competition, and Universal Ballet Competition. In the fall of 2017, Vivian joined NOLA DANCE PROJECT as a principal dancer. As one of its founding members, she has danced the roles of Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, and Mother Goose in The Stories of Mother Goose.
Amanda Credeur, E-RYT 200 & YACEP, has been in love with the movement since she can remember. She began practicing yoga and meditation at a young age, after a recommendation from a doctor to help with joint injuries. After years of personal practice, she was inspired to become a yoga teacher. Wanting to create classes for athletes and those with injuries who need alignment-focused practice, she completed her Vinyasa certification at Flow Yoga Center in Washington, D.C. in 2009. Over the past 15 years, she has practiced Anusara, Ashtanga, Bikram, Hot Yoga, Inyengar, Jivamukti, Power Yoga, and Prana Flow as well as many other styles. Her eclectic background and love of movement permeate her teaching.
She strives to create a safe and enjoyable environment for every class by teaching Vinyasa flow with a focus on alignment combined with unique sequencing. By including both beginner and advanced variations of poses, Amanda encourages each student to practice at their level, while giving them an opportunity to learn and practice more challenging poses. At the core of her teaching is the understanding that practice is only beneficial if it creates positive results outside of class. She hopes that you have as much fun as she does as you grow with your yoga practice.
Peter Barnitz (Production Manager) is a contemporary painter, sculptor, and installation artist. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (2004) from Loyola University of New Orleans and his Master of Fine Arts degree (2011) from the University of New Orleans. He currently works as the resident artist and head varsity basketball coach at Kenner Discovery Health and Sciences Academy High School. In 2012, he established the Barnitz Academy of Fine Arts at The Studio School of Dance, where he instructs art workshops for children and adults. In 2014, Mr. Barnitz was appointed to the Kenner Rivertown Arts Council, where he serves as the Chairman. His exhibition portfolio spans both nationally and internationally in more than 40 select exhibitions (solo, group, collaborative). He was born and raised in Metairie, LA, and currently lives and works out of his home studio in Kenner, LA.
Since 2013, Mr. Barnitz has worked with his wife Diana Madrigal-Barnitz as a stage, production, and facility manager of The Studio School of Dance. Mr. Barnitz has created the sets for Dolle Shoppe, The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Ave Maria, Hoe Down, Mother Goose, Chromatics, and Le Boutique over the years. Mr. Barnitz has also portrayed lead roles, such as the Nutcracker and Drosselmeyer in the full-length ballet The Nutcracker
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 fifth season with Texas Ballet Theater.
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.