Meet Our Faculty
Miss Jenni Leinweber
Miss Jenni Leinweber (Artistic Director) is co-owner, Instructor and Artistic Director for the Loveland Dance Academy (Loveland) and the Conservatory Dance Studio (Greeley). In 1999, she created an elite youth competitive group called Performance Dance Team for the Loveland studio, which received superior recognition for awards in both technique and choreography. At the beginning of the 2011-12 dance season Miss Jenni merged her Loveland dance team with the Greeley dance company to create a strong collaboration between the two studios. In the winter of 2011, Miss Jenni produced, directed and staged the studio’s first full length ballet production of “The Nutcracker” (Loveland). In addition to teaching at her two studios, Miss Jenni travels to Children’s Workshop (Loveland and Greeley) to teach daycare dance programs. In 2009, Miss Jenni created a program called “Music and Movement” which she taught at Garfield Elementary, Arts Magnet Program for four seasons. The program incorporated math principles, space awareness, rhythm and musicality for school age kids. Miss 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. Jenni has attended ballet curriculum and teacher workshops with instructors from the Kirov Ballet and Boston Ballet. Jenni has choreographed and performed for several ballets including Peter and the Wolf, Coppelia and Paquita. Additionally, she serves as the costume mistress 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 called the Performance Company for the Greeley studio, which received superior recognition for awards in both technique and choreography. At the beginning of the 2011-12 dance season Miss Katie merged her Greeley dance company with the Loveland dance team to create a strong collaboration between the two studios.
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 choreographing for UNC’s dance production of “Miranda’s Nightmare”. In addition to teaching at her two studios, Miss Katie teaches Dance for Greeley Central High School’s Arts Magnet Program and is often an guest teacher for UNC.
Her most recent business venture includes her ownership of Brix Taphouse & Brewery located downtown, adjacent to the Greeley studio.
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.
Miss Lynda Davis
Miss Lynda Davis (Loveland Office Manager & Financial Advisor) 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.
Miss Cherise DeKraai
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.
Miss Michelle Ruiz
Miss Michelle Ruiz (Loveland Instructor & Executive Assistant): began dancing at Loveland Dance Academy in 1999. She joined the Performance Dance Team in 2001 and continued to train and compete until she graduated from high school in 2006. She went on to study dance at Colorado State University and continued to be involved in the Loveland studio. She moved to Austin, Texas to study theology at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary from 2010 to 2013. After that, she moved back home and has been working in the office as Executive Assistant, teaching, choreographing for the dance team and overseeing the social media for both studios.
Miss Connie Comer
Miss Connie Comer (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 Hannah Escobar
Miss Hannah Escobar (Greeley Office Administrator) has been dancing with The Conservatory for three years and has been working the front desk for the past two. She is a Senior acting major with a dance minor at the University of Northern Colorado and plans on graduating in May 2017. Hannah has choreographed for UNC’s dance alliance and main stage productions in addition to subbing various classes at The Conservatory. After graduation, Hannah plans to move to Chicago to pursue a career in performing.
Miss Jenna Haller
Miss Jenna Haller grew up in South Dakota and has been dancing since the age of 5. She was trained in ballet, tap, jazz, and modern as well as in gymnastics which she 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 a minor in Dance. While at UNC, she was the recipient of the Dance Talent Scholarship for two years, performed in many showcases, and was highly involved with the dance club where she was responsible for organizing dance shows and classes. In addition, she has trained with teachers from Colorado Ballet, 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 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 spent her time teaching at Maui Academy of Performing Arts, flying to the Big island of Hawaii to teach once a week, performing four nights a week for one of the weekly tourist shows, and finding small dance gigs here and there, one of which being a solo performance for Wade Robson’s production at the Mayors Ball in 2016. She recently moved here to Northern Colorado to be closer to family and she is beyond excited to continue her passion in spreading the knowledge and love of dance and soul movement here at Loveland & Conservatory Dance.
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. Nessa has an M.A. in Art History and works as the Collections Manager at the University of Denver in addition to teaching Ballet, Pointe, Conditioning, and Tap at Loveland Dance Academy. She is also the Assistant Director for the yearly production of The Nutcracker.
Miss Krista Leons
Miss Krista Leons (Greeley & Loveland Instructor) is a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado’s Musical Theatre program with an emphasis in Dance. She has been a Dance and Vocal Instructor for various studios and dance companies throughout Colorado, Texas, and San Diego since 2001. Miss Krista has been one of the resident and highly sought-after Instructors for The Conservatory Dance Studio and Loveland Dance Academy since 2002. Additionally, she was a choreographer and company member for all four years of 8th Street Contemporary Dance Company. Unfortunately, in 2008 she had to leave Colorado with her husband (a Naval Officer). She relocated to Corpus Christo, TX and later to San Diego, CA where she was highly involved with several dance studios and children’s dance programs. Miss Krista returned to Colorado (and our studios!) in September of 2013 where she now teaches dancers ages 3+ in Jazz, Contemporary, Hip-hop, Tap and Ballet. She is also one of the choreographers for the Performance Dance Team and is the PDT Manager. In addition to teaching for the studios, she guest teaches at the University of Northern Colorado and Greeley Central Hugh School. Her passion is dance and theatre education and believes in the mission of utilizing these tools to inspire confidence and creativity in young minds.
Miss Cindy Lundy
Miss Cindy Lundy (Greeley Instructor) has danced most of her life. She has over 30 years of teaching experience. Cindy studied Cecchetti and Russian ballet technique from many great teachers including Roni Mahler- Ballet Russe, Bene Arnold – San Francisco Ballet, Ballet West and Matte Gavers – Metropolitan Opera and University of Utah. She has trained in jazz technique from Gus Giordano during summer intensives in Chicago. She studied Musical Theatre performance at the University of Utah, then later completed her BA in Dance Performance and Choreography at UNC. Cindy taught in her own studios in Iowa and New Mexico. After moving to Colorado, she taught at Northern Colorado Academy of Dance Arts and at the Greeley Conservatory of Dance (now referred to as the Conservatory Dance Studio). Cindy worked with Colorado Dance Theatre as the Director of Education and the Artistic Director of the Nutcracker and the Summer Intensive. In 1998, she started a new company and school in Greeley named Movin’ for the Lord Dance Company and directed it for seven years. She later began doing mission work teaching team members dances, dramas and puppetry took her on mission trips for outreach events. Her choreography has been performed around the world from a broadcast on national television in the Dominican Republic to the back country of Uganda in Africa.
Miss Andrea Mitchell
Andrea Mitchell has been dancing since she was 4 years old. She attended The Dance Center of Colorado Springs. Andrea has attended 2 to 3 dance competitions per year since the age of 6. Her dance styles include: ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, contemporary, lyrical and modern. She has taught every age and style since the age of 15. Andrea was cast as a “Vampire” and a “Witch” in the University of Northern Colorado’s fall performance “Miranda’s Nightmare”. She is a freshman at UNC where she is majoring in Elementary Education with a minor in 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 24 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 Lisa Ordoñez
Miss Lisa Ordoñez (Loveland Instructor) grew up dancing in Jacksonville, Florida at The World of Dance studying tap, ballet, jazz, and lyrical. As a member of the competition team, she attended many dance competitions and conventions including Dance Masters, Tremaine and Dance Caravan as well as having the opportunity to spend a summer attending classes at the Broadway Dance Center in New York City. In college, Lisa began teaching at the studio she grew up at while receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of North Florida. In 2007, she moved to Colorado with her husband and began teaching at Broadway Bound Dance Academy in Loveland. There she taught various classes while coaching and choreographing for the competition team. Her team attended and competed at various conventions including West Coast Dance Explosion and Co. Dance. Lisa took a brief break from her love of dancing when her son was born in 2014 and is now excited to be back in the classroom teaching at Loveland Dance Academy!
Miss Emily Schluter
Emily Griffith Schluter has been fortunate to be 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 Theatre and Movin’ for the Lord Dance Company. She also studied dance while attending The University of Northern Colorado and professionally performed with 8th Street Contemporary Dance Company (housed at The Conservatory). 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 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 Whitney Thibodeaux
Miss Whitney Thibodeaux (Greeley & Loveland 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. In addition to teaching, she is a PDT choreographer and the PDT Assistant Manager.
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 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.