An American Quartet
We are always interested in adding new dancers to our family! If you are interested in dancing with us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about the audition process.
Founder, Director, Dancer
Jessica Riggs graduated from Colorado State University with both a B.A. in Dance and a B.S. in Dietetics. During her college dance career, Jessica had the opportunity to work and study with choreographers and teachers such as Jane Slusarski-Harris, Chung-Fu Chang, Melissa Corr, Linda Harris-Cooper, Lisa Morgan, Judy Bejarano, Hannah Kahn, Gabriel Masson, Katie Elliot, and Kim Neal Knofsinger. Her own choreography was selected on multiple occasions for showcase in the CSU Fall and Spring Dance Concerts, as well as for adjudication in the 2007 American College Dance Festival.
Since graduating from CSU in 2007, Jessica's choreography has been featured in Ascential Dance Theatre's Assemblage, Colorado Centre of Dance's annual benefit for the Children's Hospital, Hearts for Hearts' Sake, Transition Theater's Kali Creates Fate, and GAMMA-UT's New Music Festival at the University of Texas.
In 2009, Jessica founded Life/Art Dance Ensemble, a 501(c)3 registered nonprofit dance company that focuses on artistic collaboration and making the arts more accessible.
Find out more about Jessica at www.movementandmorsels.com
OUTREACH PROGRAM MANAGER, DANCER
Mykayla began dancing at Premier School of Dance in Thornton, Colorado at the age of 3. From the ages of 7 to 18, she competed in dance; such was her dedication to dance that Mykayla elected to be home schooled so she could spend more time dancing and competing. During this time she studied many different dance styles including African, salsa, musical theater, modern, and break dancing. She currently is a Instructor for Premier. She joined LA Dance Magic's Company in 2015 under the direction of Jackie Sleight and Dave Carter. In 2019, she attended the Art Institute of Colorado. Mykayla currently works as the ‘Director of Fun’ for Dance Art Media Studios & is pursuing her career as a professional dancer with multiple companies and projects. She is ecstatic to be a part of Life/Art Dance Ensemble for her fourth season, and loves being a part of something amazing and dancing her heart out.
Natalie Vinyard-Houx grew up in the small mountain town of Frisco, Colorado. She started her training in dance at the age of two at Rocky Mountain Dance Academy where she studied ballet, tap, modern, jazz and hip-hop under the direction of Jennifer Voxakis. Her first year and a half of college was spent at Southern Utah University as a Dance major where she studied with faculty such as Kay Andersen, Shauna Mendini, Lise Mills, Paul Ocampo, and Chien-Ying Wang. While at SUU she took master classes from the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company. After transferring to Colorado State University in the spring of 2011 she started her studies with faculty such as Judy Bejarano, Chung-Fu Chang, Jane Slusarski-Harris, Sayaka Karasugi-Ruggles, Lisa Morgan, and Carol Roderick.
At CSU she was also able to take master classes taught by the Ailey II Company, Shih Kun-Chen, Joan Lazarus, Gabe Masson, Pilobolus, Richard Wacko, and Yunyu Wang. She was able to perform in character dances from the ballet Swan Lake staged by Richard Wacko, Associate Professor at the University of Utah and in Anna Sokolow’s ROOMS in the section, Daydream restaged by Yunyu Wang, Professor at the Taipei National University of the Arts. Natalie has also created many choreographic works of her own while at CSU, one of which was chosen for performance in the Dance Division’s main stage concert. Natalie graduated from Colorado State University in May 2014 and has since performed with Avatar Movement Dance Company for four seasons and two seasons with Esme Dance Company performing two years in a row at Denver Pride Festival! Natalie is so happy to be performing in her third season with Life/Art Dance Ensemble and cannot wait to see what the company has in store for the future!
Mia Wilborne grew up in Denver with a passion for modern and contemporary dance. She attended Colorado State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and a minor in Biomedical Science. Mia is currently a company member with Cindy Brandle Dance Company and is a G2 dancer with Geometry Dance Company. Her teaching experience includes a six week commercial dance intensive at the DAM Studios, a dance internship at ParkHills Fantastic dance, music, and stories camp, and ballet and modern pedagogy at CSU. Mia also attended summer intensives and winter workshops in 2019 at Complexions and BodyTraffic where she had the privilege of learning from Dwight Rhoden, Desmond Richardson, Dusty Button, Lillian Barbeito, and Saleemah E. Knight.
Emily Wallace began her dance training at Summit School of Dance and Alpine Dance Academy in her hometown of Breckenridge, Colorado. In attendance at Colorado State University she continued studying modern, ballet, jazz, improvisation, choreography, and pedagogy as a dance major. She performed student, faculty, and guest artist works in over ten dance concerts, and additionally participated in the CSU theater production of Cabaret. Emily has choreographed student pieces presented on the CSU stage, collaborative video projects, and the children's musical Disney's 101 Dalmatians. She enjoys sharing dance through teaching in the studio setting and helping start the CSU Dance Club. Emily looks forward to her first performance as a guest artist with Life/Art Dance Ensemble!
Rehearsal Assistant, Dancer
Lizzie grew up in Arvada, Colorado and began dancing when she was three. As a teenager, she spent five years training with the Arvada Center Dance Company under Christina Noel-Adcock, Lisa Rebik, Ashi Smythe, Kate Wagner, Emily Hoch, and Therese Patton-Sanchez. With the ACDT company Lizzie had the opportunity to partake in outreach performances in various nursing homes and with children's fundraisers. After graduating from Arvada West High School, she went on to study at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
Lizzie graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Dance and Psychology in 2020. She is currently working on her Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling, while working at Jefferson Center for Mental Health. She plans to work with adolescents while incorporating arts in the therapeutic process after graduating.
Lizzie currently teaches at Park Hill Dance Academy and coaches Varsity Poms at Dakota Ridge High School. This is her fourth year dancing with Life/Art Dance Ensemble and she is excited to grow with the company.
Timothy began dancing after spending his first three years of college pursuing a multimedia degree. After switching his studies solely to dance for the next four years, he graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor’s of Science in Dance in 2020. During that, time he was taught contemporary and choreographic technique by Bonnie Simoa and Sarah Nemecek at Lane Community College and by Steven Chatfield, Christian Cherry, Sarah Ebert, Brad Garner, Rita Honka, Walter Kennedy, Shannon Mockli and Margo Van Umersson at the University of Oregon. Timothy is a certified Danceability instructor, has danced in the Joint Forces Dance Company under the direction of Alito Alessi, worked with artists such as Rachael Lincoln and Laura Elayne Miller and created five fully produced choreographic works.
Timothy is pleased and proud to be in his first year with Life/Art.
Growing up in Denver, Colorado, Camila started studying ballet at a young age and organized dance performances with kids from around her neighborhood. At the age of 12 she began training and preforming with Colorado Ballet before earning a teaching and dance scholarship to study under Academy Director Michelle Dolighan-Rodenbeck at Classic Dance Academy. Strengthening her ballet technique, Camila preformed in The Nutcracker, Paquita, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and competed in Ballet Guild. Simultaneously she studied modern, contemporary, lyrical, jazz, and hip hop under Catherine Board, Heather Marsh-Schieck, Brooke Casady, Alfred Smith and taught ballet for kids 3-5 and 7-12.
Camila received her B.A. in Film Studies and Production and Minor in Theatre from the University of Denver. There she created experimental dance films, a documentary about a Lacota pow wow dancer, preformed African dance and was a sound designer for several Department of Theater productions. During her time at the University, Camila trained with Millennium Dance Complex, Hannah Kahn Dance, Denver Dance Center, Mercury Café, Colorado New Style and taught dance at Wind Dancer Studio and at the Florence University of the Arts.
Joining Life/Art in 2018 as an Outreach Dancer, Camila has loved the opportunity to perform for the Colorado community and to grow with the company as a part of the board for the Life In Motion dance film festival. Camila continues to make dance films and hopes to use her background in dance, technical theater and film to share stories about the Denver dance community and bring movement and joy to others.
Ariel studied ballet at Ballet Denver Academy for 9 years before going to Metro State University to earn a B.A in Theatre with a Minor in Dance. Ariel joined Life/Art in 2011. Loving to share the joys of dance with others, she taught dance and creative movement for five years at several studios in the Denver area including Colorado Conservatory of Dance, MCDA, and Denver Dance Starz. Her choreography premiered in showcases with Life/Art Dance Ensemble as well as in several musicals in the Denver area. Her favorite musical to choreograph has been A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at MSU Denver. Singing has always been a second love and she was delighted to study voice for two years at MSU singing in choirs and Musical Theatre Showcases. She performed as a character actress for children's events and parties with Wands and Wishes Occasions for over two years and is currently leading kids ministry at Landing Place Church. She loves to spend time with her family and be involved in community events and outreaches. Ariel is thrilled to be dancing with Life/Art.
In May 2020, Samantha obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Colorado State University. Samantha has had the exciting opportunity to perform both live and in dance-for-camera works with professional dance companies such as Evolving Doors Dance, T2 Dance Company, and Edgar L. Page: Feel the Movement. Along with performing, Samantha loves exploring her choreographic process. She has adjudicated four pieces; all of which were selected by CSU faculty through the adjudication process to be showcased at various CSU fall and spring dance concerts. Currently, Samantha dances as a company member with Evolving Doors Dance, Moraporvida Contemporary Dance, and as a guest artist with Life/Art Dance Ensemble.
Outreach Assistant Director, Dancer
Mary Overton has been a member of Life/Art since 2014 and is thrilled to have the opportunity to dance with such talented individuals. Mary is a Colorado native who began her dance training at Little Theater in Littleton, CO at the age of 5. It was there that she found her love of dance and continued dancing throughout high school. She then attended Colorado State University where she studied Dance and Spanish, earning Bachelor's degrees in Dance, Spanish, and Liberal Arts, and a Master's degree in Spanish Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. As a CSU student, Mary had the privilege of working with various teachers and choreographers including Carol Roderick, Chung-Fu Chang, Jane Slusarski-Harris, Judy Bejarano, Katie Elliot, and Jacques Heim, among others. Mary was also a member of CSU's Tour Dance Company and taught dance at various Fort Collins studios. In 2011, Mary returned to the Denver metro area and began teaching Spanish for Heritage Speakers and Spanish as a Second Language at Skinner Middle School. She is passionate about teaching and has helped to develop Spanish curriculum and assessments. Mary loves languages, traveling, and experiencing other cultures. She has traveled to more than a dozen countries and studied in both Quito, Ecuador and Granada, Spain.When she is not teaching or dancing, Mary enjoys spending time in the mountains skiing, camping and mountain biking with her husband, Dennis.
Megan Roney has danced since the age of three and is captivated by the stories our bodies tell through the art of dance. Megan works as an occupational therapist and weaves her love of dance with her passion to empower the independence, advocacy, and artistic creation of children and adolescents with disabilities. Megan sustained a traumatic brain injury and multiple physical injuries at the age of nineteen when she was in a car accident. She was told by doctors dancing again may be an impossibility, but with the support of her family, multiple therapy services, and determination she went on to not only dance again, but tour internationally performing in professional stage shows with Disney. Megan is proud to be a part of Life/Art Dance Ensemble and strives to empower dancers of all abilities to reach for their artistic endeavors.
Kat, originally from the suburbs of Chicago, moved to Denver to pursue her career of dancing. She is currently a dance company member of Life/ Art Dance Ensemble, In The Wings Aeriel Company, Thrive Ballet Company, and Evolving Doors Modern Dance Company; and has had the pleasure to perform and choreograph in several other projects/ entertainment events.
Kat grew up a bun head in Crystal Lake, Illinois and attended Alma college in Michigan on scholarship where she received her B.A in Dance Performance. Throughout her career she has studied ballet, pointe, contemporary, modern, jazz, tap, character, jazz, hip hop, and yoga. During college, she had the opportunity to study and perform at ACDA two years in a row, and choreographed her own full length show as her senior thesis. Kat also attended American Dance Festival’s summer intensive in 2016 where she studied with renowned artists such as Nia Love, Paul Matteson, and Otto “aquaboogie” where she mainly focused on modern, improv, and hip hop. She also was casted and performed at the international choreographer’s showcase.
After moving to Colorado, Kat has had the pleasure to dance and perform with several other companies including Kim Robards Modern Dance Company, Ethereum Modern Dance Company, Nosilla Modern Dance Company, and Dream Project Dance Company.
Along with dancing, she has a passion for teaching dance. Kat has been teaching for the past ten years throughout Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan, and is currently teaching all over the Colorado area. She also has had the pleasure of coming on as a guest teacher/ choreographer for various studios, and has also been creating series of film work with herself and her students.
Kat also models professionally outside of dance and has a background in painting and art. She has participated in several art shows here in Denver and sells to a couple local boutique/ coffee shops.
Colorado has given Kat many opportunities and she couldn’t be more excited for her future as an artist.
Dazzmin Brown, born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, is an interdisciplinary dancer that wants to show the importance of knowing the history/where the movement comes from, freestyle, expressing the idea of being yourself, and healing through movement. Since she was eight years old, she has trained in various styles of dance; hip hop, jazz, modern, vogue, heels, contemporary, and ballet, as well as cheerleading and gymnastics and exudes a blend of precise yet fearless style.
During her first few years of college, she was a member of pre-professional company, DancEstrella, at Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) that is directed by Janaea McAlee. During her time there, she was able to be a part of and showcase multiple works and gain recognition at local art festivals such as, Artists of Promise, and American College Dance Festival. After she obtained her Associates of Arts in Dance at EMCC in Spring 2017, she transferred to Colorado State University (CSU) the Fall of that year.
While at CSU as a dance major, she has had the opportunity to perform in the Spring Dance Concert (2018) as well as put out her own choreography for the Senior Dance Concert (2019). She hasn’t had many performing or choreography opportunities but she has been focused on becoming a better teacher and overall dancer in the courses that CSU had to offer. She branched out to other styles of dance by participating with the Dance Advisory Committee (DSAC) Dance Club, taking master classes (Martha Graham Dance Company, Pilobolous, PUSH Physical Theater to name a few), attending the Nation Dance Education Organization seminar (NDEO), performing for CSU Prism for the drag shows that are hosted in the Lory Student Center every semester, going to The Rio for salsa dancing, and teaching children and adults hip hop.
After graduating from CSU with her Bachelors of Arts in Dance in the Fall 2019, she became a trainee for IMMABreathe for a year. Which was a contemporary fusion dance company based in LA that was directed by Janelle Ginestra, Mary-Ann Chavez, and Monika Felice Smith. She also became a member of the International Association of Blacks in Dance and attended their seminar in January 2020. She later became a member of Lume Dance, which is another contemporary fusion dance company based in LA, directed by Mary-Ann Chavez and Monika Felice Smith in January 2021.
Currently, she is living in Denver, working towards getting her yoga certification and doing a certification program with AZDanceMed. She hopes to go back to school within the next year so she can eventually become a dance physical therapist.
She initially joined Life/Art as a guest artist for the showing of “An American Quartet” so this will be her first season with Life/Art Dance Ensemble! She is beyond excited for this new journey and being an official company member.
New Dawn String Quartet
The New Dawn String Quartet was founded in 2019 and is made up of the principal string players of Stratus Chamber Orchestra. In addition to performing with Life/Art Dance Ensemble, the New Dawn String Quartet performs locally through Augustana Arts and other Denver based performances and weddings. The New Dawn String Quartet is made up of violinists, Arlette Aslanian-Townsend, Leah Quigley, violist Heidi Snider and cellist Adam Riggs
Arlette Aslanian-Townsend has been the Concertmaster of the Stratus Chamber Orchestra (formerly called Music Sacra Chamber Orchestra) for over 20 years. During this time, she has gone on three European tours with the group and has soloed on countless occasions. She is also violinist in the New Dawn String Quartet, which consists of string Principals from Stratus. As an extremely active freelance violinist, she has played with numerous professional ensembles throughout the region. Some of the groups she’s played with are the Boulder Philharmonic, the Mercury Ensemble, the Fort Collins Symphony and the Denver Opera Company, to name just a few. Besides her many performing engagements, Mrs.Aslanian-Townsend maintains a large private violin and viola teaching studio in Denver, and is a long-time faculty member of Denver Talent Education, where she teaches orchestra and repertoire classes. She is a regular guest clinician at various institutes and workshops throughout the country and has judged many competitions.
Mrs. Aslanian-Townsend received her Master of Music degree from the University of Denver and her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her primary teachers have been Harold Wippler, James Maurer, William Starr, Sally O’Reilly, Kevork Madirossian and Dinos Constantinides. Mrs. Aslanian-Townsend continues to further her education by regularly attending the Starling-Delay Symposium at Juilliard, International Suzuki conferences and local workshops.
She is the past President of the Suzuki Association of Colorado and was the Suzuki Youth Orchestra of the Americas (SYOA) Coordinator at a Suzuki Association of the Americas International conference. Previously she worked for ten years with Boulder Suzuki Strings and had a two-year tenure as Musical Director at Cherry Creek High School. There she coached string quartets and conducted its two large orchestras. She has coached chamber music at Denver Talent Education, Boulder Suzuki Strings and many summer camps. At the University of Denver, her string quartet won the school-wide chamber music competition and was invited to open for the grammy award-winning Takes quartet. Mrs. Aslanian-Townsend was the first violinist and contractor for the Eine Kleine Quartet for over twenty years.
Besides music, her passions include traveling with her husband, ethnic cooking, hosting parties and playing with her cats “Hansel and Gretel.”
Leah Quigley grew up in a musical family and began violin at age 5 as a student of the Black Hills Suzuki School. Leah further developed her musical skills, by twice earning a position to study with the National Symphony Orchestra Summer Institute in Washington, D.C. In addition, she attended several Suzuki and other strings camps throughout the country. While a sophomore in high school, Leah successfully competed in the Rapid City Young Artist competition and performed solo with the Black Hills Symphony Orchestra. In 2009, Leah earned a Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and received the top honors of Instrumental Performance Award and the Academic Achievement Award from CUA’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music.
Leah has performed internationally, including concerts in Kraków, Poland for World Youth Day 2016, and in Prague, Czech Republic as a tribute to the prisoners of the Terezin Concentration Camp. She shares her talent while working for a non-profit organization which has given her the opportunity to perform as a violinist and vocalist at large national conferences, co-produce the album “Origin," and perform at numerous events in a variety of settings. Leah has tracked violin on multiple albums, as well as played live with numerous bands.
Leah has long held a passion to teach violin and develop the talent of young violinists. She holds a Suzuki Teaching Certificate from the University of Denver Lamont School of Music, and currently teaches in the Suzuki Violin methodology through the Primavera Place Suzuki School.
Leah grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota, and now resides happily in Denver, Colorado.
Heidi Snyder received her Bachelos’ degree in Music Performance - Viola from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1990.She is in her eighth season as Principal Violist for Stratus Chamber Orchestra and her ninth season as Principal Violist for the Arapahoe Philharmonic. In her tenure with these groups, she has enjoyed a performance tour in the Czech Republic, premiering works by living composers, debuting soloists, and collaborations with a variety of visual and performance artists.
Heidi is the violist in the New Dawn String Quartet. She also performs in a freelance capacity for local groups including Performance Now Theater Company, many churches and community orchestras.
She also teaches elementary and high school orchestras at St Mary’s Academy in Englewood, CO, and is the Middle School Strings Specialist for Littleton Public Schools. She has served as a section coach for district high school honors orchestras in Douglas County, Cherry Creek, and Aurora; and judged Colorado AllState auditions for several years.
While not teaching or performing, Heidi loves to hike, travel, and spend time with her husband, three children, and assortment of family pets.
Noted for his passionate and expressive playing, Dr. Adam Riggs is an avid chamber musician, teacher, and performer. He has performed at music festivals across Canada, the United States, Italy, and the Czech Republic. In addition to being the principal cellist of Stratus Chamber Orchestra, Adam regularly performs on as a sub with the Boulder Philharmonic, as well as with Colorado-based dance company, Life/Art Dance Ensemble. He has been heard on CPR radio and was a guest soloist for the Western Springs School of Talent Education and Naperville Suzuki School's 35th Anniversary concert at the Chicago Symphony Center. He has released two recordings including Jean Daniel Braun’s 5 Suites for Cello and “Pas de Cello” multitrack cello music for Ballet Classes. Adam is also Chair of Board and director and founder of the Colorado Cello Summit, an 501(c)3 organization dedicated to strengthening and connecting Colorado’s cello community.
An avid teacher, Adam completed his Suzuki Teacher Training in 2016 with Carol Tarr at the University of Denver and Rick Mooney at the Greater Austin Suzuki Institute. He currently teaches at Silver Strings Academy in Westminster, while maintaining a robust private studio in Arvada. Previously, he has taught for the Continuing Education Department at the University of Colorado, at Parlando School of Musical Arts, and coached chamber music and taught cello at several summer music camps/festivals including the University of Colorado’s Summer Music Academy program. Adam has been on the Board of the Suzuki Association of Colorado for the past 4 years serving as Treasurer, Scholarship Committee Chair and Webmaster
Adam began his cello studies at the age of four, and soon became a regular award winner at local and provincial competitions. He competed at the national level during his high school years before continuing his musical studies at University. He holds a Bachelor of Music Honours Performance Degree and a Diploma in Chamber Music from Wilfrid Laurier University (Waterloo, Ontario), a Master of Music Performance degree from The Hartt School (Connecticut), and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from University of Colorado Boulder. His principal teachers include Sally Gross, Paul Pulford, Simon Fryer, Mihai Tetel and Judith Glyde. He has also studied with András Fejér, Thomas Heinrich, Aldo Parisot and Shauna Rolston. Adam has also performed and worked with members of the Takacs, St. Lawrence, Emerson, Juilliard, Tokyo, and Penderecki String Quartets.
In addition to his musical endeavors, Adam is owner and photographer at AR Pictures. To see his work, visit: http://www.adamriggspictures.com