MEET THE TEAM
Angie Brooks, Executive Director
Angie would tell you that her career with St. Louis Dancing Classrooms is a dream come true. After more than a decade of dancing professionally on stage and screen, Angie returned to her hometown of St Louis and enrolled at the University of Missouri-St. Louis earning her degree in Psychology. Upon graduating, Ms. Brooks went on to become the Program Coordinator for Covenant House- Missouri, overseeing and sometimes facilitating the artistic and athletic programming offered at their Community Center. From there, she moved on to become a College Coach with the local non-profit organization, College Bound, where she mentored high school students on track to becoming the first generation in their family to pursue higher education. While all of her past work serving, teaching, and mentoring area youth and young adults was incredibly valuable and rewarding...Ms. Brooks felt that something was missing. That something -- was dance. In 2008, Angie saw the documentary Mad Hot Ballroom and instantly knew that the work of Pierre Dulaine and his Dancing Classrooms program was her calling. In 2009, with the hard work and determination of Lauren Wilmore and Arash Sabet, St. Louis Dancing Classrooms became a reality and Angie began her work as a Teaching Artist. In 2017, Ms. Brooks became Director of St. Louis Dancing Classrooms. Dreams really can come true!
Laura Maier-Schuepfer, Program Manager
Laura Maier-Schuepfer has studied many forms of dance since she was just three years old. She has choreographed and taught tap, jazz, and ballet at Becky Kern’s Dance Studio, Civic Dance Center, Angie’s Dance Studio, and Dimensions Dance Center, as well as choreographed and taught performances for the Belleville East Swing Choir and Belleville East Drill Team. Laura earned her Bachelor of Science in psychology (child emphasis) from the University of Illinois and her elementary education teaching certificate from the University of Laverne. She trained and performed with Rosie Radiator and the San Francisco Tap Dance Team. Today, Laura organizes and oversees our many residencies while continuing to also serve as a Teaching Artist.
Carrie Fernandez, Teaching Artist
Carrie Fernandez is a native of St. Louis where she got her start with the Gateway Ballet of St. Louis. As a student she was able to study on scholarship at many top company schools, including the Joffrey Ballet, ABT, San Francisco Ballet and the Bolshoi Academy in Moscow. After accepting a full scholarship to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and moving to New York, Carrie continued to dance with local companies including Kozlov Dance International, Valentina Kozlova’s Daring Project, and New Jersey Ballet. She found her passion for teaching early and worked closely with many great teachers from the Bolshoi Ballet, NYC Ballet, and Alvin Ailey and was asked to develop a children’s program for Leonid Kozlov’s school where she choreographed and staged several children’s ballets. Since returning to St. Louis she has choreographed for the Maximum Pulse Dance Co and COCA’s Ballet Eclectica and is currently a member of the dance faculty at COCA. She joined St. Louis Dancing Classrooms in 2010, having trained under its founder, Pierre Dulaine.
Lauren Cram, Teaching Artist
Growing up, Lauren was entranced with dancing of all kinds - ballet, tap, jazz and hip-hop, performing on a competitive level for the better half of her life. Throughout college, she was a cheerleader for the St. Louis Steamers as well as the RiverCity Rage Arena Football team. During her years of competing and performing across the country, Lauren developed an appreciation for the costumes that enabled her to get into character on stage--eventually expanding her love of the arts into fashion design. With a degree in Fashion Design & Product Development, the multifaceted Ms. Cram not only runs her own clothing line and online fabric boutique, but is also at the forefront of COCA's fashion design program, sharing her passion for design and sewing construction with young talent ages 6-18. A firm believer in interdisciplinary arts education, Lauren feels that all of the arts - visual, dance, theater, design, and music are related, connected, and important to our youth. Being part of St. Louis Dancing Classrooms is a welcome change for the fashion designer as she can step away from the sewing machine and help 5th graders across St. Louis learn and experience respect, elegance, and teamwork through dance.
Joyce Jones, Teaching Artist
Dance has always been a part of Joyce's life. Her earliest recollection as a small child was of a dance recital on the Admiral steamboat in St. Louis. She took ballet, tap, jazz, and pointe at Becky Kern's dance studio in her formative years. She was proud to dance with her brother and was a creative outlet for both of them. It inspired her so much she wanted to make sure other children had that opportunity. She taught dance into her early twenties and only paused to raise her family. As her children became teenagers, Joyce's family became very involved in English Country Dancing, an elegant form of graceful line dancing from the early 19th century (Pride and Prejudice). They hosted annual Regency Balls which taught many social graces from an era gone by. Joyce and her husband then started taking ballroom lessons in 2015. She loved the fact that she and her husband could find a medium for dancing together. Dancing Classrooms was the perfect blend of both worlds. She is excited to again be teaching and working with students to teach not just dance but social skills, character, and respect for others.
Elise Kulik, Teaching Artist
Elise Kulik began dancing at the age of 3. She began her training at Dance Productions Unlimited and classical ballet training at Ballet Midwest and St. Louis Ballet. She graduated from Millikin University with degrees in Theatre and Dance in 2012. While attending Millikin University, she was a member of the Millikin Dance Ensemble and the Sapphires Dance Team. After graduating, she gained a contract with Stiletto Entertainment and Holland America Cruise Lines. During her contract aboard the Zaandam, she performed and sailed throughout South America and Antarctica. Elise was then offered a contract with Princess Cruise Lines sailing and performing all over the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Scandinavia, & Arabian Peninsula. After completing her contract with Princess Cruise Lines, Elise returned to Dance Productions Unlimited to share her passion for dance and working with children. Elise is also on the faculty of the Center of Creative Arts (COCA) where she teaches ballet, jazz, and early childhood classes. She recently completed her NTC Certification in Pre-primary through Level 3 Ballet through the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum Program.
Jenny Battenberg, Teaching Artist
Jenny Battenberg has taught dance in the St. Louis area since 2001 in modern, contemporary, hip-hop, jazz, ballet, and tap. She has trained and worked as a dancer, dance educator, model and actress throughout the St. Louis area since obtaining her BA in dance from Lindenwood University in 2009. She was a founding member of The Big Muddy Dance Company and was a member of Leverage Dance Theater. She has performed with groups and festivals, such as aTrek Dance Collective, Turn of Change Dance Collective, IMPULSE Dance Festival, National Dance Week, and American College Dance Festival. Jenny still performs with entertainment company, Vivant Entertainment and does commercial work with talent company, TalentPlus. She continues to choreograph and teaches dance, fitness, and yoga to all ages in the St. Louis area. Jenny joined Dancing Classrooms St. Louis in 2022 and is thrilled to be part of the DCSTL team!
Carmen Guynn, Teaching Artist
Carmen is a St. Louis native and one of the city’s leading Latin dance instructors / performing artists. She is the Founder/ Owner / Artistic Director and Executive Producer of Almas Del Ritmo Dance Company and The St. Louis International Salsa Bachata Congress. She was a guest choreographer for Gitana Productions’ play ¡SOY YO! (I AM ME!) an Afro- Latina Suite, and Consuming Kinetics Dance Company’s fall dance concert [R]evolution. Carmen was part of the ensemble for the Tony Award Winning Best Musical; IN THE HEIGHTS; by Lin Manuel Miranda, Directed and choreographed by Luis Salgado, A production of STAGES St. Louis, which won Best Musical and Best Ensemble in Broadway Worlds 2022 Regional Awards.
She was the Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking and Exploitation (CATE), where she worked with community members, service providers, and the Missouri Attorney General to build resources, create best practices, and implement laws to fight against human trafficking. She continues to use dance as a platform to spread awareness of this crime. Her goal is to continue to use art as a voice for the voiceless.
Laurie Clark, Teaching Artist
Laurie Clark began taking dance lessons at six years old and continued through high school. While in high school she began teaching at her dance studio. During middle school she started taking gymnastic lessons. By high school she was teaching gymnastics at the YMCA. She is still coaching gymnastics at St. Louis Spirits Gymnastics. Laurie taught in the Affton School District for 31 years before retiring in 2019. She is thankful for all the wonderful students, parents, and staff she met while working at Mesnier School. In 2010 she was honored to be named Mesnier Teacher of the year. Watching children grow and bloom in confidence & self esteem is the greatest reward of teaching. Laurie is excited to start this new adventure working with fifth graders in the outstanding Dancing Classrooms St. Louis program.
Lawrence Haliburton, Teaching Artist
Lawrence H is so glad to be starting their inaugural year with Dancing Classrooms this spring! Lawrence is a 24 yr old St. Louis native with a passion for all things artistic. You can catch them teaching Musical Theater fitness at Yes Honey Studio, Stage Managing for Gateway Center for Performing Arts, and of course inspiring a new age of dancers with Dancing Classrooms. Lawrence has been featured with; A Capella Connection, the St. Louis Symphony orchestra, the Grand Center Arts Academy Musical theatre dept, and has enjoyed roles such as; Frank/ Dance Captain in Dreamgirls, Riff in West Side Story, The Tin Man in The Wiz, and America in Stray Dog Theatre's new work festival.
Mauricio Villanueva Espinosa , Teaching Artist
Mauricio Villanueva Espinosa, was born in León, and raised in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. He is an artist and singer/songwriter with an eclectic background in Opera, Classical, Mariachi, Pop, and Salsa. He is also a Latin dancer, plays Latin percussion, and produces his own Podcast. Mauricio has performed in Europe, Asia, Mexico, and the US and was featured on the reality show La Voz 2022 (The Voice) in Mexico. Now based in St. Louis, he has discovered a passion and purpose for teaching and inspiring people through dancing. Mauricio is so proud to be a Teaching Artist for Dancing Classrooms St. Louis and is ready to bring great energy to the young ones.