Jon Lehrer, who was raised in Queens, NY, took his very first dance class at age 19 at the University at Buffalo. While dating a dancer, Jon teased her about how easy it must be to get an A in a dance class. The girl dared Jon to try a beginning level modern dance class and his life was changed. The summer after his junior year, Jon studied at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, training with the great Carolyn Adams, Ruth Andrien, Danny Grossman, and Danny Buraczeski to name a few. Jon ultimately received his BFA in Dance from the University at Buffalo.
As a professional, Jon danced with the Erick Hawkins Dance Company, John Passafiume Dancers, in Merv Griffin's "Funderful" in Atlantic City, NJ, and the Radio City Rockettes Christmas Spectacular in Branson, MO.
In 1997, Jon was hired by Giordano Dance Chicago, the world’s preeminent jazz dance company. After three years he was promoted to Rehearsal Director and then became the Associate Director two years later. During his ten years with Giordano, Jon became the resident choreographer, creating seven original works on the company that received rave reviews all around the world. Jon owes much of his success to the guidance of
Gus and Nan Giordano, who gave him the tools and opportunities to become a leader, creator, and educator.
Jon has set his work on several professional dance companies and universities all over the country. He teaches master classes throughout the U.S. and around the world, having been on faculty at Dance Masters of America, Jazz Dance World Congress, Dance Teacher Summer Conference, Chicago National Association of Dance Masters (CNADM), Chautauqua Institution, Florida Dance Educators Organization, and Florida Dance Masters to name a few. Jon has received many awards and honors, including the University at Buffalo Zodiaque Dance Company Distinguished Alumni Award, CNADM’s Artistic Achievement Award, University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award, and the “Rising Star” SPARK Award for being an integral part of Buffalo’s thriving arts and cultural community.
In 2007, Jon retired from the stage to purse his dream of starting his own professional dance company. In the company’s 14 years, Jon has created over 25 works, developing and cultivating a definitive style that combines his love for modern and jazz dance with his love for physics.
Cristiana Cavallo (Rehearsal Director / Dancer) is from Utica, NY and began dancing at the age of 3. She received her training at the Dancenter and at Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute School of Dance. Cristiana graduated in 2014 from the University at Buffalo with a BFA in Dance and a BA in Sociology. As a UB student, she was a member of the Zodiaque Dance Company, performed in several musicals, choreographed for many student productions and acted as Director of Dancer’s Workshop. She attended numerous summer programs, including NYSSSA, Thodos Dance Chicago Intensive, and Steps Summer Study. During her senior year, Cristiana was chosen for the Jon Lehrer Dance Observership, allowing her to train with the company and gain valuable insight into the professional world of dance. In 2019, Cristiana was invited to choreograph as part of the Barn Dance Project at the Theater at Woodshill, curated by Caitlyn Schrader. Since 2020, she has also been the Director of Programs and Finance for JUNTOS Collective. Cristiana has been with JLDC for seven years, becoming an integral part of the company's success both on and off the stage.
Ricardo G. Barrett (Dancer) is originally from Jamaica and attended the American Musical and Dramatic Arts Academy. He was a three year member of The Jamaica Junior Theatre Company and The Company Dance Theatre. Ricardo continued his training until he left for the Martha Graham School as a member of Graham 2. He was a member of the second Company for three years, and an Apprentice with the Martha Graham Company for 2 years. He is also a member of Alison Chase Performance, Buglisi Dance Theatre, and Dzul Dance. Ricardo is a trained actor, dance teacher, singer and still explores different forms and styles of artistic expression. This is Ricardo's first season with JLDC.
Gabrielle DiNizo (Dancer) is originally from Dayton, OH where she began her dance training at Dayton Dance Conservatory. While there she performed for their pre-professional company, Dayton Dance Conservatory Company, for two years before moving to New York City for college. In May 2021, Gabrielle graduated summa cum laude from Fordham University/The Ailey School with a BFA in Dance and English. She has had the honor of performing works by Robert Battle, Brice Mousset (Oui Danse), Adam Baruch, Earl Mosley, and Manuel Vignouelle. Gabrielle spent her recent summers training at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Dance Italia, where she cultivated her love for contemporary and modern dance. This is Gabby's first season with JLDC.
Kristen Hedberg (Dancer) was born and raised in Richmond, VA. She earned her BFA in Contemporary Dance from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where she was dual-enrolled with The Martha Graham School during her senior year. Most recently, Kristen was a member of the RIOULT Repertory Program under the direction of Pascal Rioult, Joyce Herring and Charis Haines. Other professional credits include: Joanna A. Maur, Curet Performance Project, Beth Soll & Company, CES Danceworks, and Alison Cook Beatty Dance (guest artist), among others. This is Kristen's first season with JLDC.
Amanda Knight was born in New York, NY and grew up in Houston, TX, where she began her formal dance training at the age of 13. She received her dance training from Houston City Dance and Vitacca Dance Project while attending The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Amanda spent her summers training with Parsons Dance, the Martha Graham School, and Alonzo King Lines Ballet. In May 2021, Amanda graduated summa cum laude from Fordham University/The Ailey School with degrees in Dance and Economics, and received an honorable mention in dance. Amanda has had the opportunity of performing works by Alvin Ailey, David Parsons, Robert Battle, Brice Mousset, Manuel Vignoulle, Earl Mosley, and Adam Barruch. She is currently an apprentice with Parsons Dance as well as Jon Lehrer Dance Company.
Mamiko Nakatsugawa (Dancer) is originally from Miyagi, Japan where she started dancing at 9 years old. Mamiko moved to New York in 2015 to attend SUNY Fredonia, where she earned her degree in 2019. During this time, she spent her summers at many prestigious training programs in NYC including Broadway Dance Center Professional Summer Semester, Paul Taylor Dance Company Summer Intensive, Gibney Dance Company Summer Intensive, Gaga New York Winter Intensive, and Module 19. As a professional, Mamiko has worked with Matthew Westerby Dance Company as an apprentice, performing “ReNew 3” with the company. She has performed in many musical theatre productions in Japan and United States, including Anne of Green Gables (Japan tour ensemble), Cabaret (Kit Kat Girls), and South Pacific (Liat). Mamiko has been with JLDC since 2019.
Patrick Piras (Dancer) is from Udine, Italy and began his dance training at the age of 6 focusing on professional ballroom dancing for three years until a sudden injury 3 years later made him stop. At age 14, Patrick started dancing again thanks to Arianna Zanello, who invited him to attend her school, Filodanza, and later became his mentor. He then focused his study in ballet, modern, jazz, and contemporary dance and received scholarships to several summer intensives in Italy. Patrick came NYC to attend The Ailey School in 2013 where he graduated as a Scholarship Student. He has performed works by Alvin Ailey, Matthew Rushing, Ronnie Favors, Tracy Inman, Martin Lofsnes, Amy Hall, Darshan Bhuller, Nathan Trice, Nicholas Villenueve, Nai Ni Chen, Sheena Annalise and Christopher Rudd. He has performed “Memoria” with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre at New York City Center in December 2014 and “Concurrence” representing the Ailey School in the Ailey Spirit Gala at David H. Koch Theatre in June 2016. Patrick performed with 360° Dance Company, as a guest artist with Nai Ni Chen, Arch Contemporary Ballet, and is on faculty at The Ailey School. Patrick has been with JLDC since 2019.
Richard Sayama (Dancer) is originally from Honolulu, Hawai’i. He attended Marymount Manhattan College where he double majored, earning his BFA in Modern Dance and his BA in Business Arts & Management. As a professional, Richard has worked with General Mischief Dance Theater Group, iKADA Contemporary Dance, One Day Dance, Alison Cook Beatty Dance, H.T Chen & Dancers, and Rock Dance Collective. He has also had the pleasure of performing works by Paul Taylor, José Limón, Elizabeth Roxas-Dobrish, Alison Cook Beatty, Elisabeth Motley, H.T. Chen, and Maria Torres. Richard has been with JLDC since 2019.
Leah Suskind (Apprentice) was born and raised in Randolph, NJ and will be obtaining her Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance from New York University Tisch School of the Arts in May 2022. Throughout her summers, Leah has attended the Jacob’s Pillow Contemporary Summer Program, the Hubbard Street Pre-Professional Repertoire Program, the Parsons Dance Intensive, the Juilliard Summer Dance Intensive, the GALLIM Summer Intensive, and the Martha Graham School Summer Intensive. She was also the fellowship recipient of the 2021 DM Connect Choreographer Competition, and in 2019, Leah received the Morris Arts Elaine Ehlers Scholarship. Leah is very excited to be an apprentice with Jon Lehrer Dance Company.
Lauren-Frances Wood (Apprentice), known by her friends as “LF”, is a dancer in NYC. She became an apprentice with Jon Lehrer Dance Company upon graduating from the Ailey/Fordham BFA Program with a minor in Mathematics. LF has worked with and performed works by Connie Shiau, Jesse Obremski, Loughlan Prior, Manuel Vignoulle, Rena Butler, and Redha Medjellekh, among others. Her next project, Inklings, a dance film by Loughlan Prior, Claire Cowan and POW Studios is set to premiere this summer. LF is in her first season as an aprpentice with Jon Lehrer Dance Company.
Alyssa (AC) DeMarco (Filmmaker/Photographer) is an interdisciplinary artist specializing in art in the age of new media. Most of her photography work is centered around artist and musician portraiture. After studying Fine Arts/New Media from intermediate school through college, she worked as an arts educator and Director of Education at the historic Alice Austen House, developing and teaching LGBTQ+ photography programs across NYC. She has worked with notable clients such as Sephora, Nordstrom, Scent Beauty, and Colossal Media in projects including photography, video production, social media content creation and management, and graphic design. She currently works full-time as a content creator at VaynerX while operating her photo studio in Brooklyn. www.acdemar.co
Andrew DG Hunt (Technical Director) is a Lighting Designer particularly interested in storytelling. His work work spans the gamut of dance, theater, opera, and architectural lighting. When working in performance he is excited by stories that look at the commonplace through a slanted point of view. Andrew holds a MFA in Lighting Design from Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, a BFA from University at Buffalo Department of Theater and Dance, and a BA from the University at Buffalo Department of Psychology. www.adghunt.com
Zeno Pittarelli (Composer) is a producer and composer living in Brooklyn, NY. He’s best known for his production and engineering on pop records by Cassidi, Sizzy Rocket, and Cody Simpson, and has had original placements on MTV’s Catfish and TLC’s You, Me & My Ex. He writes and records his own songs under the moniker Certain Self. When not making music, he enjoys long bike rides and making pancakes late at night.
Damien Simon (Composer) is a St. Augustine, FL based music composer for Ballet/Contemporary Dance Companies, Film, Orchestras and Ensembles around the world. A graduate of the Purchase Conservatory (NY) and the University College Dublin (Ireland), Damien has written dozens of scores for multiple genres and mediums over the last 25+ years. Damien also teaches multiple instruments privately all across North America. Damien’s teaching includes lecturing around the world with choreographers and dancers on the collaboration process between composer/musician and choreographer/dancer. Damien’s lecturing with dance is based on his short book, “The Collaboration”. www.damiensimon.net
Laura Taylor Vanner (Costume Designer) has been designing costumes for Jon Lehrer since 2015. She grew up next door to a community theatre just outside Philadelphia in Rose Valley, Pennsylvania. Her love of dance and the creative arts led her to Denison University where she earned a BA in Dance. It was there that she started designing costumes for student and faculty performances. Throughout the past 20 years she has collaborated with various arts organizations including the Albright Knox Art Gallery, ArtPark, and The Lancaster Opera House.