Jon Lehrer Dance Company actively promotes and values equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism on an institutional and individual level. All those working within JLDC are committed to creating an environment free of prejudice, discrimination, and marginalization throughout all of our work. This includes, but is not limited to, the company’s hiring practices, choreography and performance, education and outreach initiatives, community interaction, and governance. The professional dance artists of JLDC work collaboratively towards a common creative goal, while maintaining and developing their own artistic and individual voice. JLDC operates with integrity at all levels, respecting and honoring ideas, opinions, feedback, and dialogue from all.
Ricardo G. Barrett is originally from Jamaica and attended the American Musical and Dramatic Arts Academy. He was also a three year member of The Jamaica Junior Theatre Company and The Company Dance Theatre. He continued his training there 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 third season with JLDC.
Mahalia Brookes is originally from the US Virgin Islands where she started her training at Caribbean Dance School. After moving to Florida, she continued her training at All American Dance Factory and All American Classical Ballet School. She has competed in the NAACP ACT-SO national convention where she worked closely with choreographer Anthony Burrell. She went on to receive her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Marymount Manhattan College. She has performed works by Earl Mosely, Jessica Lang, Anthony Morigerato, John Heginbotham, Sidra Bell, and Pascal Rioult. This is Mahalia's second season with JLDC.
Cristiana Cavallo (Associate 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 10 years, becoming an integral part of the company's success both on and off the stage.
Kristen Hedberg 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. Kristen was a member of the RIOULT Repertory Dancers, under the direction of Pascal Rioult, Joyce Herring and Charis Haines. Other professional credits include:
Curet Performance Project, Faustine Lavie Dance Project, and Susie McHugh + Dancers, among others. This is Kristen's third season with JLDC.
Michael Miller grew up on Long Island, New York. He started dancing at the age of eight and focused on ballet and modern dance primarily at Peconic Ballet Theatre. Michael then received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance from James Madison University. He studied under Rubèn Graciani, Matt Pardo, Fran Kirmser, and Ryan Corriston. Miller was involved in student and faculty pieces throughout his four years at JMU. While at JMU, he performed in the pre-professional Virginia Repertory Dance Company, under the direction of Matt Pardo, and was awarded the Excellence in Performance Award his senior year. Miller had the pleasure to work in multiple residencies with choreographers such as Abraham in Motion (A.I.M) directed by Kyle Abraham, Rubèn Graciani, and Ryan Corriston. Miller also performed in original works choreographed by Omàr Roman De Jesùs, Xiang Xu, and Ricky Ruiz. This is Michael’s second season with JLDC.
Patrick Piras 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. This is Patrick's fifth season with JLDC .
Richard Sayama 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. This is Richard's fifth season with JLDC.
Leah Suskind was born and raised in Randolph, NJ. In May 2022, she graduated summa cum laude from New York University Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in dance. While at NYU, Leah had the opportunity to perform works by Yin Yue, Stephen Petronio, Jaclyn Walsh, and Molissa Fenley. In the fall of 2022, Leah participated in the inaugural GibneyPro Training Program where she got to work with artists such as Rena Butler, Maleek Washington, Laja Field, and Elia Mrak. Throughout her summers, Leah has attended programs at Jacob’s Pillow, Orsolina 28, the Juilliard School, and with companies such as Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, GALLIM, Parsons Dance, the Rockettes, and the Martha Graham Company. Leah’s most recent choreographic work, “VII”, was recently selected to perform at the Spring 2023 JCE Jazz Dance Project as well as the 2023 Hartford Dance Festival. She was also the fellowship recipient of the 2021 DM.Connect Choreographer Competition. Leah was an apprentice with JLDC for two seasons. She is excited to be in her first season as a full JLDC member.
Kirsten Coco was born and raised outside of Boston, MA and was educated at Donna Coco’s Performance Plus, where her passion for movement and performance began. This passion eventually led her to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she received her BFA in Dance. During her time at Tisch, she also studied dance abroad in Berlin, Germany. Since graduating, Kirsten’s performance credits include: Company dancer with Groundworks Dance Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio, Company dancer with Z Artists Group in New York City, Company Dancer with Chutzpah Dance in New York City, performer for Antonio Brown’s “Inside,” David Shimotakahara’s “Jigsaw,” and the Aditya Birla Awards in Mumbai, India. She has also performed Yin Yue’s “In Company,” Jeremy Nelson’s “Unfurled” at Radio City Music Hall, and with the Scottish Ballet Dance Exchange at the Joyce Theatre. Kirsten has been featured in the Dance Spirit Magazine “Audition Wear” photo shoot and article, and has made appearances in several dance films and festivals in New York City. This is Kirsten's second season as an apprentice with JLDC.