Leverage Dance Theater

Leverage Artists

Diana Barrios (Director)  was born into a part Latin-American, part North-American, part Italian family in Lima, Peru. She grew up in Saint Louis and around Los Angeles and graduated with a degree in Dramatic Arts & Dance from the University of California at Berkeley. Here she discovered her passion for event production and collaboration. After college, Diana moved to New York City where she worked and trained for five years before moving back to Saint Louis. As luck would have it, this timing coincided with the founder and Artistic Director of Atrek Dance Company, Angela Culbertson’s plans to move on to another phase of her career. In 2003, Diana took over the direction of the company and under the new title of Atrek Dance Collective. Under this banner and with a vision toward coalescing a group of local, like-minded artists to share in the responsibility and artistic process of producing progressive modern dance work in Saint Louis, Diana ran Atrek for almost ten years.

In 2013, Diana and key collaborating artists rolled out a new vision for the company and re-branded it as Leverage Dance Theater. Leverage Dance Theater’s programming is designed to explore the intersection of dance and life. Entwined in her vision for the company is a deep commitment to collaboration, education and the development of young artists. Diana’s choreography is more composition and direction than choreography in the traditional sense. She relies heavily on the creative contributions of the dancers to the development of the company’s signature Dance on Site performances which bring a unique, intimate, experiential, site-specific format for experiencing dance to St. Louis audiences.

Diana hopes to inspire young artists to search for groundbreaking ways to inspire, educate and enrich through dance. To this end, Diana has created an extensive offering of arts integrated programs offered by Leverage Dance Theater in elementary schools. These programs teach math, science and literacy through dance. Leverage is also in residency at Intersect Arts Center in the Cherokee neighborhood of St. Louis were they offer free after-school and summer programming to under-served children in the community.

Keli B&WKeli Brook Hermes (Assistant Director) is from Dallas, Texas.  She graduated with distinction from the University of Oklahoma in 2006 with a B.F.A. in Modern Dance Performance. Upon graduation, Keli began dancing with MADCO completing tours to Michigan and Florida and performing in concert performances including a feature role in the the 2009 production of ‘Chimera’ by Todd Weeks.  She also performed works by Robert Battle, Michael Foley, Jon Beasant III, and Cecil Slaughter.  In 2009, Keli was hired as a teaching mentor for St. Louis Artworks and was also a guest artist with the University of Missouri-St. Louis dance program. Additionally, her choreography has been shown at 60×60 Dance, Cottey College, Lindenwood University, National Dance Week, and Creekview High School.  Keli has performed with Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company and Karlovsky & Company Dancers and teaches at Arts in Motion in Brentwood, MO. Leverage has welcomed Keli since 2011!

BW Jenny_Headshot_WEb9435Jenny Battenberg has trained and worked as a dancer, dance educator, model and actress throughout the St. Louis area since she obtained her BA in dance from Lindenwood University in 2009. She was a member of The Big Muddy Dance Company from 2011-2013, with whom she has performed works by Lauri Stallings, Lou Conte, Brandon DiCriscio, and Paula David. She has also performed with groups and festivals, such as aTrek Dance Collective, Turn of Change Dance Collective, IMPULSE Dance Festival, National Dance Week, and American College Dance Festival. She teaches and has choreographed for several St. Louis and Illinois area dance studios and teaches Cardio Barre.  She has been a member of Leverage Dance Theater since 2014.

Tricia copy B&WTricia Zweier is an educator, choreographer, and performer with a cross-disciplinary interest in dance and kinesiology. After earning a Master of Science in Kinesiology and a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, she relocated to Missouri and is in her sixth year as an Assistant Professor of Dance at Lindenwood University teaching mostly contemporary and jazz techniques, dance history, dance & technology, and dance kinesiology. Outside of LU, Tricia has been commissioned to teach master classes in Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and recently completed a residency as a Guest Artist teaching improvisation for The Center for Contemporary Dance Pre-professional Student Intensive in Orlando, Florida. Tricia danced as an apprentice with the Atlantic City Ballet (formerly Atlantic Contemporary Ballet Theatre), then toured internationally in the cruise line industry as a lead dancer and dance captain. Her modern dance performance credits include the works of Hanya Holm, Merce Cunningham, and Martha Graham. She has also had the pleasure of working with more contemporary artists including Sean Curran and Mark Dendy. Tricia is currently choreographing for Flatlands Dance Theatre’s production of Shakespeared: An Evening of Dance and Sonnets in Lubbock, Texas, and is very happy to be performing as a Guest Artist with Leverage Dance Theater.

Nicole Halama danced for 15 years at Dance Center of Kirkwood and studied dance at Southeast Missouri State University, then Columbia College Chicago. She moved back to St. Louis in 2013 training with The Big Muddy Dance Company and teaching at Dance Center of Kirkwood. Nicole has danced with Leverage since 2015 performing in various concert works, Dance St. Louis’ Spring to Dance Festival and tours to Nevada, MO.

R. Vance Baldwin, native of St. Joseph, Missouri, holds a B.S. in Education-Vocal Emphasis from Missouri Western State University (2001). During his time studying voice, he began dancing with Missouri Western State College Dance Company. Upon graduating from MWSC, he was missing dance and quickly realized after taking his third ballet class, at Kansas City Ballet, he was in the wrong profession.  Later that year, he joined The Conservatory of Music & Dance at University of Missouri-Kansas City and graduated in 2008 with BFA in dance. Currently, Vance is dancing Karlovsky & Company Dance, and Reckless In Motion Dance Company (Artistic Director).  He has had works performed in Spring To Dance Festival, City In Motion: Modern Night at The Folly, 940 Dance Company: Regional Choreography Festival-Lawrence, Kansas, McKendree University. He has also had the opportunity to work with artists such as Gina Patterson, Jennifer Archibald, Michael Foley, Jennifer Medina, Michael Uthoff, Mikey Thomas, Alcine Wiltz, Dan DeMott, Paul Chambers, and received the STAR Award of Excellence from Robidoux Resident Theater, St. Joseph, Missouri.

Lisa Hayes (Apprentice) is from South Bend, Indiana and has been dancing for over 23 years. She has studied a variety of styles including tap, ballet, hip hop, lyrical, salsa, bachata, and competition jazz dance. Her love for modern dance started at Purdue University, where she danced in several companies and created her own dance work. Graduating with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Art & Design, Lisa taught, choreographed, and performed – most recently as a member of Fischer Dance in South Bend. She moved to St. Louis to pursue a Masters in Social Work at Washington University and is excited to join Leverage Dance for her first season.

Laura Roth, a native of Jacksonville, IL, is thrilled to be working with Leverage Dance Theater. Laura has had the pleasure of performing in projects such as ANNONYArts’s Drenched choreographed by Ashley McQueen and Land of Rest, a choral ballet created in collaboration with Stephen Mager and Masterworks Chorale, and she performed with Common Thread Contemporary Ballet for four seasons under the direction of Jennifer Medina. She has performed in festivals such as Dance St. Louis’ Spring to Dance, Kansas City Fringe Festival, City in Motion’s A Modern Night at the Folly, Dine on Dance, 60×60 St. Louis, Dancing in the Street and National Dance Week.  A summa cum laude graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Laura holds a B.A. in Dance and a minor in Religious Studies. While attending Southeast, she performed works by Susan Quinn Williams, Philip Edgecombe, Hilary Peterson, Dr. Marc Strauss, and more; danced with pH eXchange Dance Theatre; and choreographed multiple works for Southeast’s main stage productions. Laura teaches at Gateway Center for Performing Arts, Vitality Ballet, and STAGES Performing Arts Academy and choreographs concert dance works and community and high school musicals regionally.

A Modern Dance Collective in Saint Louis, Missouri.