Meet the Faculty
Miss Jenni Leinweber (Loveland 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 from the University of Northern Colorado with 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. Miss Jenni enjoys working with kids of all ages and she loves the small business that she has created with her two business partners, Linda McSwain and Katie McSwain-Hiatt. In addition, she enjoys spending time with her husband Mark, and her two kids, Sydney and Ryan.
Miss Katie McSwain-Hiatt (Greeley 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), 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 collaborating with dance professor, Monte Black, for UNC’s dance production of “Miranda’s Nightmare” where choreographs several Hip-hop based pieces.
Besides teaching at her two studios, Miss Katie teaches Urban Dance for Greeley Central High School’s Arts Magnet Program. She has a passion for teaching and loves the support of her two business partners, Linda McSwain and Jenni Leinweber. Miss Katie was recently married and she enjoys her time with her new husband, Justin.
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 with 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 McSwain-Hiatt and Jenni Leinweber pass along their passion for teaching and dancing.
Miss Ariel Armelino (Greeley & Loveland Instructor) began training with the Little Theatre Cultural Center in Denver, CO. There she gained extensive training in ballet, tap, and jazz. Ariel was involved in musical theater and play performance throughout her adolescence and has a deep appreciation and understanding for all performing arts. Also a young gymnast, Ariel has a well-rounded knowledge of tumbling and weight sharing skills. Professional dance experience with the Schiff Dance Collective and the Nicholson-Klein Company has allowed Ariel to develop her own dance identity, which incorporates improvisational techniques and a connection between yoga and dance. In 2011 Ariel put her own dance career on hold to pursue a master’s Degree in Marriage, Couples and Family Counseling. In the meantime, she enjoys sharing the discipline and love of dance with her students. Ariel has been teaching since 2007, and has been with Loveland Dance Academy and The Conservatory Dance Studio since 2010.
Miss Cassie Carney (Greeley Instructor & Office Administration) was born and raised in Greeley and started dancing at the age of three. At the age of ten she started competing in statewide competitions. At 13 she started traveling out of state to study with nationally recognized choreographers and teachers. In high school, Cassie danced and choreographed routines for her dance and cheer teams, leading them to a state title her senior year. While attending UNC she taught classes for a local studio also helping with the competition students. Her dancers went on to take overall top awards and consistently got high marks. After getting married and having two children she hung up her dance shoes to be a stay-at-home mom. Only after her daughter decided to start dancing, Cassie realized that she missed dancing and teaching. Cassie is excited to join our team and develop our dancers into well rounded leaders of tomorrow.
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 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 is currently pursuing an M.A. in Art History at the University of Denver in addition to teaching Ballet at Loveland Dance Academy. She is looking forward to working with all the students in the second annual production of the Nutcracker.
Miss Kristin Nugent (Loveland Instructor & Office Administration) began dancing at the age of three and was one of the first members to enroll at Loveland Dance Academy in 1998. Her dance career has encompassed all forms of dance, but her specialties are tap, musical jazz, and ballroom. She trained at both the Loveland Dance Academy and The Conservatory Dance Studio until she graduated high school in 2007. From there she attended the University of Northern Colorado, where she studied dance under Monte Black and Dr. Karen Genoff-Campbell. While at UNC, Kristin was the President of UNC Dance Alliance, where she choreographed and ran student shows for 4 years. After graduating in 2011, Kristin left the USA and went to live in Vienna, Austria, to be an Au Pair. While living abroad, she taught English Immersion Dance Workshops at the University of Vienna and attended classes as well. Kristin also had the opportunity to attend two Viennese Balls where she got to use her ballroom dance skills! She is excited to be back in the States and back at LDA as an Instructor and Office Administrator.
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 throughout her five years there. 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. From there, she took a year off from teaching and moved back to Greeley with her husband. She started taking classes at the Conservatory last season and began substitute teaching over the summer, which has led her to become a member of the faculty at both The Conservatory Dance Studio and Loveland Dance Academy.
Miss Shelly Wright (Greeley & 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 is teaching her fifth season 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.
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 the resident and highly sought-after Instructors for The Conservatory Dance Studio and Loveland Dance Academy since 2002. 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 (a competition based company for kids). 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 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 Ashley DeKraai (Greeley Office Manager & Advertising) began dancing at The Conservatory Dance Studio in 1994. She was a member of the PDT as well as 8th Street Contemporary Dance Company during its first year. Ashley has competed and trained under various regional and national instructors. While attending college, Ashley performed in the UNC production of "Miranda’s Nightmare" produced by Monte Black. Ashley graduated from the University of Northern Colorado in December of 2009 and is currently working at Fitzgerald Petersen Communications in Denver in addition to her Administrative and Advertising position at Dance Dream 3 Studios. Ashley is the “face” of the Greeley location. She is available at the front counter to help you with any questions.