Dance Teacher, Choreographer, Marching Band/Guard Visuals/Design
I have 45 years experience in the dance industry. I started taking dance when I was 4 years old and immediately fell in love. I've trained in Ballet (Vaganova primarily), Pointe, Jazz (specialize in Fosse), Modern (Horton, Hawkins, Tharp, Graham), contemporary, lyrical, tap, and hip hop. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Anthropology with a focus on Folklore & Play, and a Minor in Italian Language. During those studies, I was fortunate enough to study some indigenous Native American Dancing and folklore. Some particulars about my dance education includes instructors from Ballet Petit, Le Studio (Charles and Phillip Fuller- Artistic Directors), the Royal Danish Ballet, performances with a touring company of the internationally recognized South Bay Ballet (Diane Lauridsen-Artistic Director) which today attracts visiting instructors from the Joffrey Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre, and jazz training under the guidance Michelle Johnston (of "Staying Alive", "Chorus Line" -Bebe, Michael Jackson's "Captain EO", Madonna's "Who's That Girl"). My high school program afforded us the opportunity to have dance as PE, and included a performing company. This company taught us to choreograph, set design, costuming, audition techniques, and performance training. Growing up in Los Angeles area allowed us to be exposed to professional dancers of all styles. Our school program had a guest choreographer each season for us to work with and perform their piece in our production (by audition only).
I have always had a love for the arts. I also studied Art History, Textiles, and Composition at Fashion Institute for Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, and throughout my collegiate career. I continue to study all styles and genres of dance by attending workshops (The Pulse On Tour, Monsters of Hip Hop, Dance Olympus, DanZa, Jump, and more), keeping abreast of current trends, and research.
WHAT I'VE DONE
After my family moved to MO, I started teaching for the Wildwood YMCA in their dance program. I helped transform it into a year-round program and expand their offerings. Soon thereafter, in 2004, I opened my own studio, Wildwood Dance & Arts. I proudly owned and directed WDA for 11 years. During that time, I founded the student based pre-professional dance company known as Danse Arts Company. DAC performed 2 full length programs annually. DAC averaged 30 performing members throughout the years. Dancers would also perform and work with charity events/organizations throughout the area. In this time, I produced/directed 11 recitals, and 22 full length shows for the dance company (either a full story based performance or showcase). I've been able to work with lighting, sound, and staging crews. In 2010, I performed as Clara's Grandmother in Missouri Ballet Theatre's professional production of the Nutcracker. Since 2004 to the present, I continue to bring professional choreographers & performers into studios for workshops/master classes into the STL area for our community. WDA's hip hop program and the master classes series have been recognized twice in Dance Studio Life Magazine. I've volunteered, and my dancers have performed, for additional community events in the area like National Dance Week. I've worked closely with school district organizations to offer dance education programs to their students for all grades. I have been a teacher on the roster for a convention; DanZa Intensive. I've been a judge for dance competitions. I've trained students that have gone on to participate in summer ballet and dance programs, collegiate dance teams, graduates in collegiate dance programs, studio assistant directors, and professional dancers throughout a wide range in the industry. I previously taught for four local studios throughout the St. Louis region; Devine Performing Arts, DK Dance Productions, Imagine Dance Project, and Excel Performing Arts. I have also worked with Oakville HS Colorguard (Dance Instructor), Modulation Z Winter Drum Corps (Choreographer), Edmond Memorial (Choreographer), and Fort Zumwalt East Marching Band/Colorguard (Choreographer).
WHAT I DO
I've been working/choreographing for local high school Color/Winter Guard and Marching Band programs. I'm currently the Assistant Director with Lafayette High School's Varsity and JV teams. I've been with this program now for 5 years. Over the last 3 years I've expanded my work with LHS to include choreography for the marching band as well. In addition to my work with LHS, I am on staff as choreographer/designer for Marquette HS; guard and marching band. This season I began assisting with Visuals for Seckman Marching Band, and this winter setting choreography for their guard program.
I continue to conduct private lessons for a variety of needs, dance technique, audition prep, and cleaning routines. I help prepare and set choreography for audition videos for dance programs. I choreograph for color/winter guard programs, marching bands, studio recitals, competition pieces, company pieces, and individual solos.
In addition to those, I review and offer critique for dance routines via video, and send back detailed notes per minute of the routine to assist individuals, coaches, and directors clean their pieces. I do professional resume writing for performers in the industry. Throughout the years I have visited countless schools to provide a fun/educational dance program either during PE, into their classrooms, and special educational events. I work with strength, stretch, and conditioning for students, and help develop training programs for all types of movement groups. I continue to bring master class series to the STL and surrounding areas. I teach for dance conventions, and judge for dance competitions as well. I'm always looking for new ways to challenge myself, study, and to use my knowledge, experience, and talent. I absolutely love what I do!
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Leah was my very first mentor as a dancer. Her excellent instruction guided me through my first years in hip hop, ballet/Pointe, contemporary, and modern classes. She allowed me to choreograph at a young age which only served to inspire my career as a professional dancer. Leah has fantastic experience and she will not disappoint you as a teacher! Amy Coyle ~ Assistant Director of Devine Performing Arts
Leah has always been there for me, from the biggest things in life to the smallest. She is one of the most enthusiastic and determined people I know. She cares about everything she does and has passion and drive in her teaching. She has helped shape me into the dancer I am today. Her instruction and experience pushed and challenged me, but also made me feel like I could accomplish anything! It was an amazing experience having her as a mentor! Kaylee Fecther ~Dance Instructor at DPA
My daughter has been training with Miss Leah for 7 years, and during that time she has developed into a beautiful dancer. Leah consistently creates strong choreography and trains her students in a firm, yet loving way. As a former dance teacher, I trust her with my daughter's training. Gail Studt- Speech/Theatre teacher for the Rockwood School District
Leah is a seasoned, passionate educator who has respect for the integrity of dance. If you want to take your technical ability to the next level, I would recommend her guidance. Her teaching style helps you build an understanding and recall of correct vocabulary, alignment, quality, and expression. To this day as a professional dancer, I continue to reference some of the knowledge I gained from her classes. ~Olivia Perez -professional dancer (Bobbi Lane Photography)
Leah has been a friend & colleague of mine for 9 years now and is one of the nicest & most loyal friends I’ve ever had! She's the reason I'm living out my dreams of being a studio owner! I have always admired Leah & her passion for dance & teaching, not to mention how much she cares for each individual student. She’s not afraid to take on new challenges or to put her dreams on stage & she has a lot to offer in the department of knowledge & creativity! Debbie Devine~Owner Devine Performing Arts
Leah is a strong woman with a sweet soul & a tremendous passion for dance. My daughter stated dancing at her studio about ten years ago when she was just 5 years old. Leah did a fantastic job helping her realize dance is a life long journey ~slow and steady is the best approach - we are not racing for a finish line. I truly believed this helped with her development, strength & lack of injuries. I feel fortunate to have a skilled & knowledgeable teacher for my daughter. Christine Freestone
I have known Leah for a decade now. I have always had amazing experiences working with & for her. She is an extremely ambitious, intelligent, & caring artist who radiates passion in everything she does. She is very knowledgable about dance & the dance industry. I would highly recommend Leah to any student or studio. She has an amazing habit of seeing the best in dancers & drawing that out. I have seen students benefit from her mentorship & guidance. Jeremy Finney~ (Frank Monk Phptography)
Our daughter has been with Miss Leah for 11yrs now. Leah's passion for dance is evident from the first time we met her & it has truly rubbed off on our daughter. Her expertise in all forms of dance is always evident & she pushes her students to always be the best dancer & person that they can be. As our daughter has grown with Miss Leah, she has gained her own respect for this wonderful teacher. She loves & respects Leah as a person & a teacher. Roy & Michelle Horton
Leah has been everything from boss to coworker and friend to me since the beginning of my teaching career in St. Louis. It is because of her that I have found myself a part of such an amazing teaching family. I can truly say that Leah cares deeply for each of her students and pushes them to grow as technicians and artists. Rachel Bodi- Ballerina/Instructor