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 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 locally.

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 holds a MS in Kinesiology and a MFA in Dance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is an Associate Professor of Dance at Lindenwood University. Tricia has been commissioned to teach master classes and choreograph in Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. She recently completed a teaching residency for The Center for Contemporary Dance in Orlando, Florida. Tricia apprenticed with the Atlantic City Ballet, and toured internationally in the cruise line industry as a lead dancer and dance captain. Her dance performance credits include the works of Hanya Holm, Merce Cunningham and Martha Graham. She has also worked with contemporary artists Sean Curran, Mark Dendy and Nejla Yatkin. Tricia has choreographed for MADCO and Flatlands Dance Theatre, in Lubbock, Texas.

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.

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.

Hope Osvath is a native St. Louis dancer and digital marketer with a lifelong passion for dance and a growing interest in social media and social networking. Hope trained at Beutell Dance Center and Performing Arts Center in St. Charles, Missouri before continuing her studies at Southeast Missouri State University and Lindenwood University. In December of 2017 she graduated from Lindenwood University with a BA in Marketing and a Minor in Dance. During her college years, Hope extended  her dance education to Joffrey Ballet School in New York City where she trained professionally in Joffrey’s jazz and contemporary dance program. This is her first season performing with Leverage Dance Theater in St. Louis. Hope intends to use her dance experience and marketing knowledge to help dancers and artists openly build connections and share their work on a large scale.

Birdie Peck grew up dancing in the San Diego Ballet Company in California, and went to college in St. Louis where she studied modern and contact improvisation at SLU and Washington University. She also danced for 15 years in Irish dance companies across the the country, competing at regional and international levels. Birdie has been an AmSAT-certified Alexander Technique Instructor since 2012, teaching conscious movement to students. Currently Birdie works as the Assistant Property Manager at South Side Spaces and is a mom of two young children.  This is her first season with Leverage!

Ashley Stettes is a recent Summa Cum Laude graduate of Southeast Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and a minor in Fine Arts Entrepreneurship. In addition to her many accomplishments, she was named the Outstanding Dance Senior of her graduating class! During her time at SEMO, Ashley had the opportunity to work with several guest choreographers including Brenna Monroe-Cook from the Limon Company, Cesar Salinas from Giordano Dance Chicago, Jeremy Plummer and Taylor Mitchell. Aside from being a performer, Ashley has had her choreography presented in both main stage and second stage shows at SEMO. She was also selected to set a piece on a group of incoming freshman her junior year and set a piece on the students at the university’s first dance intensive. Ashley has attended several summer intensives, conferences, and master classes to help further her training. She is a proud member of NDEO and graduated with dance honors through the National Honor Society of Dance Arts. Ashley currently teaches at several studios throughout the St. Louis area and is an instructor with Vitality Ballet.

A Modern Dance Collective in Saint Louis, Missouri.