Meet Our Faculty
Miss Jenni Leinweber
Miss Jenni (Artistic Director) is co-owner, Instructor and Artistic Director for the Loveland Dance Academy (Loveland) and the Conservatory Dance Studio (Greeley). In the winter of 2011, Miss Jenni produced, directed and staged the studio’s first full length ballet production of “The Nutcracker” (Loveland). In 2018, Jenni became an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT®Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT®National Training Curriculum. Additionally, she has attended ballet curriculum and teacher workshops with instructors from the Kirov Ballet and Boston Ballet. Outside of teaching at her two studios, Miss Jenni created a program called “Music and Movement” which she taught at Garfield Elementary, Arts Magnet Program for four seasons and she currently travels to Children’s Workshop (Loveland and Greeley) to teach daycare dance programs.
Jenni has been dancing since age 3 and at 11 she began studying Ballet with Christina Noel at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities (Arvada). Jenni is a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado and holds an Interdisciplinary Fine Arts Degree with minors in Music and Business Administration. Miss Jenni serves as the Costume Director for the studios where she designs, fits and details costumes for all dancers.
Miss Katie McSwain
Miss Katie McSwain (Studio Director) is co-owner, Instructor and Studio Director for The Conservatory Dance Studio (Greeley) and Loveland Dance Academy (Loveland). In 1998 she created an elite youth competitive group which has received superior recognition for awards in both technique and choreography.
Miss Katie began dancing at age 3, and her chief dance training includes Shelly True Dance Academy (Greeley/Denver), The Conservatory Dance Studio (Greeley), Starstruck Academy of Dance (Denver), and the EDGE Performing Arts Center (Los Angeles). After returning to Colorado from Los Angeles in 2002, Miss Katie became a dance studio owner and full time Instructor. Her students have been accepted into the prestigious scholarship program at The EDGE Performing Arts Center in Hollywood, CA, while other students have gone on to dance for Disney, Nike, iPod, cruise lines, Las Vegas shows, college dance programs and professional dance companies. In 2006, she founded the professional dance company, 8th Street Contemporary, which performed for four seasons throughout Northern Colorado. In 2007, she began guest choreographing for the University of Northern Colorado (UNC) with the concert series “Miranda’s Nightmare” as well as their Spring Showcase and later working as an adjunct professor within the Dance department. Additionally, Miss Katie worked with Greeley Central High School’s Arts Magnet Program teaching dance from 2009-2017.
Nurturing students of all ages and abilities through a healthy dance process is her driving force as a teacher.
Miss Linda McSwain
Miss Linda McSwain (Founding Owner) was the founding co-owner and Administrative Director of The Conservatory Dance Studio (Greeley) in 1993. In 1998 she co-founded Loveland Dance Academy (Loveland) and Tutu Cute Dance Boutique. Linda was the founding President of Colorado Dance Theatre (Greeley) and an active member of the Downtown Development Authority (Greeley). She has been an involved community leader who is enthusiastic and optimistic regarding the revitalization of Downtown Greeley as well as the quality of life in Greeley. Linda attended the University of Northern Colorado (Greeley) and graduated from the University of Miami with a B.S. in Nursing. She has since found herself involved in many small businesses including real estate investments, wellness health products with Nikken, Inc. and she is a certified instructor of YogAlign. In addition, Linda was a Board Member and Director of Development for the non-profit arts organization, 8th Street Company Inc. 2007-2009.
In 2012, Linda helped merge The Conservatory Dance Studio (Greeley), Loveland Dance Academy (Loveland) and the retail store, Tutu Cute Dance Boutique, into a new successful parent company called Dance Dream 3 Studios, LLC. Her business and real-estate expertise has encouraged the remodel of the Greeley studio’s main level and the purchase of a new building for the Loveland studio. Linda is not a dancer, but she loves watching and supporting her two business partners, Katie and Jenni as they pass along their passion for teaching and dancing.
Lynda Davis (Financial Operations)
Miss Lynda Davis (Loveland Office Manager & Financial Operations) began working for Loveland Dance Academy in 2009. She retired from Hewlett Packard after 28 years of various management positions in Finance, Planning, and Project Management. After a year of retirement and golfing with Miss Connie, Lynda was persuaded to assist the needs of Dance Dream 3 Studios where she then abruptly switched into the dance arts industry. Her strong financial background makes her a perfect match to assist with the long term financial planning of the studios. Lynda is the “face” of the Loveland location. She is available at the front counter to help you with any questions.
Cherise DeKraai (Greeley Administrator)
Miss Cherise DeKraai (Greeley Office Manager) began her employment with The Conservatory Dance Studio after retiring from the University of Northern Colorado in June 2015 where she worked for 31 years. At UNC Cherise worked as an Accounting Technician and assisted in funding distribution and purchasing for the Student Senate, University Program Council and around 100 student clubs and organizations; her favorite part of that job was that she worked with students and was surrounded by great enthusiasm and energy! Cherise has enjoyed the transition and return to the dance world as both of her daughters previously danced at The Conservatory several years ago. She is available to assist our clientele with all their dance needs and questions and again is happy to be in a place filled with great energy.
Roxie Wilson (Greeley Administrator)
Miss Roxie Wilson joined The Conservatory Dance Studio and Loveland Dance Academy in March 2017. She retired from the University of Northern Colorado in September 2016 where she worked for 27 years. At UNC Roxie worked as the Senior Conference Coordinator and oversaw 90+ camps and conferences each summer. Along with the conference coordinator duties she was the administrator for the conference housing/dining/scheduling software and the campus wide class scheduling system. Some of Roxie’s proudest accomplishments at UNC was the partnership for 10+ years with the Special Olympic Summer games and the Colorado All State Games held at UNC for many years. Retiring from UNC has allowed her to enjoy more time with her two grandsons and three daughters. Roxie also enjoys playing on her golf league in the summer and bowling league in the winter.
Chelsea Garza (Loveland Administrator)
Jen Tow (Costume Mistress)
Miss Kirsten Arispe
Miss Kirsten (Loveland & Greeley Instructor and PDT Choreographer) started dancing at the age of 5. Kirsten started her training at Loveland Dance Academy and The Conservatory Dance Studio. Kirsten learned all styles of dance and was a student here for 13 years. Kirsten was also a member of the Performance Dance Team. Kirsten started choreographing in high school and choreographed routines for her high school cheer team. She graduated in 2012 and moved to Grand Junction to attend Colorado Mesa University where studied ballet and hip-hop and continued to choreograph state and performance routines for cheerleading for 2 more years after graduating high school. Kirsten graduated from Colorado Mesa University in December of 2016 with Bachelor of Arts’ Degrees in Counseling Psychology and Criminal Justice. Kirsten is currently involved with social work and this will be Kirsten’s second year of teaching dance with our studios. You will find Kirsten teaching a variety of classes but specializes in Hip Hop due to her unique, energetic, and spunky style. Kirsten has always had a passion for dance and looks forward to sharing her knowledge and love of dance with all ages
Miss Heidi Becklenberg
Miss Heidi comes to the Loveland & Conservatory Dance family with many years of teaching experience. After earning degrees in Ballet Performance and Psychology from Indiana University, she danced professionally with Ballet Oklahoma and Kansas City Ballet. She has taken the lessons learned through these experiences to develop a teaching style that focuses on positivity, clean technique, and an appreciation for the art and history of ballet. Many of her students have gone on to college as dance majors, to dance professionally, or to become teachers themselves. She believes dance should be a safe place for self-expression and creativity. She focuses on each student as an individual, encouraging their growth and confidence as artists.
Miss Connie Comer
Miss Connie (Loveland Instructor) began dancing at the age of two with her mother, a former professional dancer and musician, as her instructor. While growing up she traveled extensively to all the major US cities to enhance her dance education, training with renowned instructors and choreographers. She attended Colorado University and studied Kinesiology and Early Childhood Development, while studying ballet with Larry Boyette, CU’s dance master and director of the Denver Civic Ballet and Colorado Ballet Company. After becoming a professional she was a member of the National Association of Dance and Affiliated Artists (NADAA) and served on the board for Dance Masters of America. Her repertoire includes tap, ballet and jazz techniques, gymnastic coaching and choreographing for numerous dance concerts and ballets. Having owned three dance schools for 27 years, she trained many dancers to become instructors and performers, including her daughter who danced professionally with a New York City based company touring the US and Europe for 15 years. While living in Arizona, 1987-2003, Ms. Connie was owner and director of a pre-school, and taught master classes for various schools in Phoenix. Miss Connie has been teaching for Loveland Dance Academy since 2005 where she teaches tap, preschool classes, adult classes and tumbling.
Miss Jenna Haller
Miss Jenna (Greeley Instructor) has been dancing since the age of 5. She was trained in ballet, tap, jazz, and modern as well as in gymnastics which she trained in for 11 years and competed in for 7 years. In 2009 she came to study at the University of Northern Colorado and received her B.S. in Sport and Exercise Science and minor in Dance. While at UNC, she was the recipient of the Dance Talent Scholarship for two years, performed in many showcases, and was an officer with the dance club where she was responsible for organizing dance shows and classes. She attended the American Collegiate Dance Association Conference twice and was asked to perform in the adjudication concert in 2011. In addition, she has trained with teachers from Colorado Ballet, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Broadway Dance Center, Ballet Magnificat, the University of Wyoming, the University of Utah, Kim Robards Dance, and many others. She has taught dance and gymnastics classes to all ages for over ten years and loves sharing her passion and passing on her immense appreciation of this art to her students.
Miss Ali Hasert
Ali Hasert (PDT Manager, PDT Choreographer, Loveland Dance Academy Instructor) grew up dancing in Tucson, Arizona with a versatile background in classical ballet and competitive dance. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from the University of Arizona. After graduating, she danced professionally for Holland America Cruiseline before moving to Maui, Hawaii. She was quickly accepted by the Maui dance community and taught at Maui Academy of Performing Arts and West Hawaii Dance Theater. She has performed for many production companies and shows. Her favorite professional dance experience was working with Wade Robinson on a solo performance for the Maui Mayor’s Ball in 2016.
At the beginning of 2017, she moved to Northern Colorado to be closer to family. You can find Miss Ali wearing many hats at Loveland Dance Academy. She manages the studio correspondence, marketing, merchandising and event planning.
Miss Nessa Kerr
Miss Nessa Kerr (Loveland Instructor) began studying ballet at the age of two and continued her dance training in Ballet, Tap, Jazz and Lyrical at Loveland Dance Academy from the time it opened until she graduated high school in 2006. Nessa began teaching Ballet at LDA in 2003. She performed in many ballets including The Nutcracker, Paquita and Sleeping Beauty with Colorado Dance Theater, and The Nutcracker with Longmont Dance Theatre. During college, Nessa studied various styles of dance including Ballet, Jazz, African and Contemporary with faculty from the dance department at the University of South Carolina while completing her B.A. in Art History and German. After graduating she taught English in Dessau, Germany for a year and was able to teach jazz and choreograph a new piece for six to eleventh grade students which was performed at the school dance group’s ten year anniversary show. In 2011, Nessa returned to teaching at LDA while working towards an M.A. in Art History. She currently works as the Collections Manager at the University of Denver in addition to teaching Ballet, Pointe, and Conditioning at Loveland Dance Academy. Nessa is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT®Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT®National Training Curriculum. She is also the Assistant Director for Loveland Dance Academy’s yearly production of The Nutcracker. Nessa is passionate about sharing the art of ballet with the next generation of dancers, while working with them to achieve correct technique and strength to support their artistry throughout their dance career.
Miss Shey Lang
Miss Maddie Martinek
Miss Maddie (Loveland Instructor) began studying dance with Loveland Dance Academy at the age of 5 in 2002 through 2015. Maddie is graduating in the Fall of 2018 as a dance major from Colorado State University. Throughout her time at Loveland Dance Academy, she was a member of the Performance Dance Team for eight years. Madison has trained with the Colorado Ballet and American Ballet Theatre as well as many of the current instructors at Loveland Dance Academy and the Conservatory. Maddie has attended the American College Dance Association conferences and the National Dance Education Organization conferences with CSU. Through her training at CSU, Maddie focuses on improving on her own technique as well as training in improvisation, choreography, pedagogy, and the theatrical elements within the art of dance.
Miss Kristin Nugent
Miss Kristin Nugent (Loveland Instructor) began dancing at age 3 where she was one of the very first students to ever step through Loveland Dance Academy’s door. She continued her dance training at LDA until her senior year in high school in 2007. From 2008-2011, Miss Kristin was a student at the University of Northern Colorado, where she was a large part of the dance program. From 2009-2011, she was the President of the UNC Dance Alliance that put on multiple shows and events each year. In 2011, Miss Kristin moved to Vienna, Austria, where she was both an au pair and a dance instructor at the University of Austria – Vienna. She taught English-immersion dance classes for the entire school year there and held multiple master classes in Jazz. Miss Kristin moved back to the United States in the fall of 2012 and began teaching again at LDA. She has been dancing now for over 25 years and believes that dance is like life: You learn how to stand in a line, have coordination, not push your friends, be creative, and most of all, have a really fun time.
Miss Jenna Schaffer
Miss Jenna Shaffer began dancing at age 3 with First Step School of Dance (Loveland). She then began training at Loveland Dance Academy (Loveland) when it first opened in 1993 and continued her training there until she graduated from Loveland High School in 2004. While training at LDA, Jenna was also hired professionally as one of the Colorado Eagle Chicks during their first inaugural season. After graduating from high school, she moved to Los Angeles to study at Azusa Pacific University where she led the school’s first and only Hip Hop dance program, Chozen. Miss Jenna also became a Studio Manager for the Academy of Music and Dance in Pasadena and worked closely with its founder as a consultant to build the studios everyday operations. After graduating with a Communications and Art major at APU Miss Jenna returned to Loveland and began teaching Combo classes, Jazz and Hip Hop in addition to choreographing for Loveland’s Performance Dance Team. From 2011-2018 Jenna lived in Boston and Chicago to pursue her career as a small business and digital marketing expert but most recently moved back to Colorado to pursue her love of dance with us! She is excited to return to Loveland & Conservatory Dance (for ROUND 2) where her passion and love for dance began, in hopes that she can foster that same love in her students.
Miss Emily Griffith-Schluter
Miss Emily (Greeley Instructor) has been connected with The Conservatory since its construction in 1993. Since that time, she not only continued taking instruction from The Conservatory’s teachers, but studied with the Northern Colorado Academy of Dance Arts, Colorado Dance Collective, Colorado Dance Theatre and Movin’ for the Lord Dance Company. She obtained a Dance Minor while attending The University of Northern Colorado and professionally performed with 8th Street Contemporary Dance Company (housed at The Conservatory). Growing up, dedicating her summers to intensive programs such as Ballet Magnificat and the University of Wyoming, was her desire. Throughout this time, she has learned a variety of techniques and styles of dance, however, her passion remains in the world of Ballet. She has experience with the Italian and French schools but instructs within the Russian curriculum. She currently instructs Ballet 3, Ballet 4, and all Pointe classes at “The C” as well as choreographing for the Performance Dance Team. She adores the opportunity to give back to the studio that helped raised her into the person she is today by instructing the next great generation of dancers passing through its doors.
Miss Claire Sheek
Miss Claire (Greeley Instructor & PDT Choreographer) has over 20 years of experience in various styles of dance, specializing in tap. She began teaching at age 16 and has continued her journey as a dance educator and choreographer ever since. Along the way she has been mentored by both Barbara Duffy and Thelma Goldberg and has earned two Tap Teacher Training Certificates from the American Tap Dance Foundation. Her choreography has been recognized and awarded at a regional and national level. In 2014 Claire founded Rocky Mountain Rhythm, Colorado’s go-to tap resource, and since then has spent her “free time” curating local tap events and performing with the company. Growing up Claire performed as a member of the late Prof. Robert L. Reed’s St. Louis Hoofers Club and she has continued on to dance for 7Dancers, as a guest performer with Anthony LoCasio’s #TapLife Company as well as for Rocky Mountain Rhythm. Claire strives to pass on her love of the art form by teaching quality technique and musicality, educating her students in the various styles of tap dance and passing down it’s history though the stories that have been passed down to her.
Miss Whitney Thibodeaux
Miss Whitney Thibodeaux (Performance Dance Team Instructor) began dancing at age 4 with Shelly True Dance Academy (Greeley). She then began training at The Conservatory Dance Studio (Greeley) when it first opened in 1993 and continued her training there until she graduated from Greeley Central High School in 2005. While training at The Conservatory, she won scholarships with New York City Dance Alliance and received National Starlight performer of the year, which enabled her to travel to Florida and work closely with several professionals. After she graduated she moved to Colorado Springs where she began teaching for Synergy Dance Academy as she received her Bachelors Degree in Psychology with a Business Administration Minor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Miss Whitney became the Studio Manager for Synergy and worked closely with several guest artists and competitions during her five years. While with Synergy, she took students to L.A. and New York City to further educate them and broaden their training. Miss Whitney also taught Jazz and Contemporary at the Ballet Society of Colorado Springs from 2010 – 2011, where she was the Director of the Jazz Art performance group. In 2011, Whitney returned to Greeley and became a fulltime faculty member at both The Conservatory Dance Studio and Loveland Dance Academy. Miss Whitney now lives in Vermont but continues her connection with the studio as a Guest Choreographer to the Performance Dance Team.
Miss Monica Thomas
Miss Monica Thomas (Tumbling Instructor) has been teaching tumbling at The Conservatory Dance Studio and Loveland Dance Academy since 2014. She hails from St. Louis Missouri. She began doing gymnastics at the age of 8 and began competing at age 8 until age 14. She has been coaching and providing private instruction since the age of 15. Miss Monica is a 1997 graduate of the University of Missouri with a BS in Physical Education. Her training and coaching experience includes Barron Gymnastics and St. Louis Gym Centre in St Louis. Before moving to Colorado in 2000, she taught PE and Health at Berkeley High School in Ferguson, Missouri and was also an adjunct professor at UM-St. Louis.
Since moving to Colorado she has continued to teaching PE and gymnastics at Premier Gymnastics of the Rockies. In 2002 graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a Master’s in Educational Leadership. Her teaching experience in Colorado includes teaching High School PE and Health and Head Cheerleading Coach at Mountain view High School, PE at Windsor High School and PE teacher and Athletic Director at St. John’s in Loveland.
Miss Linda Wray
Miss Linda (Loveland Dance Academy Instructor) has taught dance for over 15 years, focusing on tap over the last several of those years. She has experience teaching all ages, from the very young to the very mature. Linda enjoys incorporating a variety of tap styles in her instruction and choreography, including broadway, classical, hoofing and even a little stomp.
Linda grew up taking piano lessons and acting in school plays. Her fondest memories include a 4thgrade school performance playing “Alley Cat” on the piano while some of her classmates danced to her choreography around brand spanking new trash cans!
Linda loves sharing her passion and excitement for dance with her students. She brings a level of high energy to the classroom; and always has an encouraging word and congratulatory remarks for her students as they start with beginning tap steps and grow into intermediate and more advanced technique.
Miss Shelly Wright
Miss Shelly Wright (Loveland Instructor) has twenty years teaching experience as she has moved around the country over her adult life. She has lived and taught in California, Missouri, Utah, Colorado; including directing her own studio for 7 years in Utah. She moved to Northern Colorado in 2006 and began teaching at Loveland Dance Academy and The Conservatory Dance Studio. Her technical training comes from Utah Regional Ballet where she was a company member during their grass roots years. She has also trained in Jazz, Tap and Modern dance. Shelly studied at Brigham Young University (Utah), receiving her degree in Philosophy. She also attended and danced at Cal State – Northridge and the University of Missouri, Columbia. Additional training and performances included Center Stage Performing Arts (Utah) and Termaine competitions/workshops. Teaching is the perfect way for her to share her love for dance and art, especially with young children.
Starrla & Judon