Leanne Schmidt, is founding artistic director and choreographer of Leanne Schmidt and Company, whose mission is to present dance that is human, vulnerable and accessible. Her works explore that which is innately human about us all, diving into the depths of vulnerability with a cast of characters that are equal parts glee and tragedy. She develops her work through an arsenal of choreographic methods and improvisational techniques, resulting in pieces that evoke a physical empathy and are strikingly rich in metaphor. Leanne has been presenting work throughout New York City since 2006 at venues including Triskelion Arts, Dance New Amsterdam, chashama, Dixon Place, and Chen Dance Center, among others. She has collaborated with visual artist Kate Fauvell and The New Alt Performance Group in Buffalo, NY. Leanne has received commissions from Travesty Dance Group/Cleveland, Kent State University, Happendance, American University, Glendale Community College, and Grand Canyon University. While in NYC, Leanne taught classes at Dance New Amsterdam, Triskelion Arts, and The YMCA. She also developed and presented choreographic/creative writing workshops at the New York Public Library’s Harlem and Aguilar Language Learning Centers, where her Company and adult learners created collaborative written and choreographic works. Leanne holds a BFA in Dance from SUNY College at Brockport and a MFA in Dance from Arizona State University. She served on the Board of Directors at Triskelion Arts and as the Director of Dance at Camelback High School. Leanne has taught at Glendale Community College, Arizona State University and is currently Artist in Residence at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ.
“I make dances because I have something to say about being human and vulnerable. I try to create work that is honest, sometimes humorous and always sensitive to human experiences. It is my hope to make thought- provoking and courageous work that my audience can find relevant, relate to, and translate into an experience that they may recognize as their own.”
Kimberly Goss is originally from Salem, Oregon, where she began dancing at the age of four. She went on to graduate Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance from Arizona State University. She has danced in works by Jennifer Tsukayama, Cliff Keuter, Mark Haim, and Neta Pulvermacher. Since moving to New York in the summer of 2003, Kim has danced with Jaclyn Moynahan, Josselyn Levinson, FeleciaMariaProject and Leanne Schmidt. She received her Pilates certification from the Kane School of Core Integration and currently teaches at Chelsea Movements and privately throughout the city. Kim joined Leanne Schmidt and Company in 2006.
Kaley Pruitt is originally from Ketchum, Idaho. She is an emerging choreographer as well as a modern dancer, and she holds a BFA in Dance from Florida State University. Her work investigates the human experience with sensitivity and explores the kinetic architecture and intrinsic communication between bodies in space. Her choreography has been presented at Idyllwild Arts Academy, The Boston Conservatory Theater, Nancy Smith Fichter Dance Theatre at Florida State University, Niagara through FSU in NYC, Dance Theater Workshop through Movement Research’s Open Showings, and at Dixon Place Theater in New York City. As a performer, she has worked with Megan Sipe: Dancing Fish Productions, Project Agent Orange/Natalia Duong, Angelo Dance Project, Amanda Selwyn Dance Theatre, The Moves Project, and CheckIt Dance in New York. She worked with Roger Belman on the Duke Gardens Project at the American Dance Festival, and she has also danced works by José Limón, Gerri Houlihan, Tim Glenn, Lynda Davis, Nora Daniel- Reynolds, and Anne Krampen. Kaley is thrilled to be working with Leanne Schmidt & Co. this season!
Melissa Knestaut is originally from New Philadelphia, Ohio where she began dancing as a child. She went on to graduate from Kent State University with a BFA in dance performance and a BS in therapeutic recreation. Currently, Melissa is a recreation therapist at Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Center where she encourages improved quality of life for people recovering from stroke and brain injury by using recreation as a therapeutic modality. Melissa has danced with MWest+Company for two years under the direction of Melissa West and has created her own work in collaboration with the National Aphasia Association and the Mount Sinai Stroke Support Group. After dancing with Leanne in guest artist work 2007 and in Triskelion’s Comedy in Dance Festival in 2010 and 2012, Melissa is happy to join the company for a second season.
Amy Larimer is a dance/theater artist whose work blends movement, sound and text and draws heavily on improvisation. Her work has been performed throughout New York and at festivals including: the Crisis Art Festival in Arezzo, Italy; Twin Cities Improv Festival in Minneapolis; ADaPT festival in Santa Barbara; Your Move Festival in Jersey City and Abundance Festival in Karlstad, Sweden. She was a founding member of Nicholas Leichter Dance and is currently the Director of the Dance Program at Lehman College as well as the creator and director of The Raving Jaynes: Improvised Dance Theater.