Faculty

Faculty and Guest Artists

Barbara Craig, 1947-2019

Founder

Barbara opened her first dance studio in 1969 in Crystal City, MO. She touched the lives of hundreds of dancers in her nearly 50 years of teaching dance in the St. Louis area. 

Barbara was noted as an artist and designer, spending countless hours making handmade costumes with fine details for her beautiful students. Her creativity was endless, always focusing on how to better connect all people that would attend performances, young and old alike. 

She was also a strong advocate for children, always taking time to listen, help, and make change in the world for our youth. 

In 2017, She proudly opened SkyStone Conservatory, her dream studio that would be able to facilitate children having an opportunity to explore all aspects of the arts. Her tragic passing in 2019, led to a renewed commitment from her children to continue forward with SkyStone always keeping her memory and creativity alive as the cornerstone values of SkyStone. She is missed by all who knew and loved her, and is shining her light on all of her students from heaven. 

Miss Barb in 2012 

Jennifer Medina, CoDirector of SkyStone

Dance/Artistic Director

Jennifer holds a BFA in Dance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, and an MFA in Choreography from the nationally ranked University of  Iowa. Jennifer is an alumni of Dance Project, as well as being the daughter of her first teacher, Barbara Craig. 

Her performance career spanned 20 years. Notable teachers of impact include Basil Thompson, Paula Weber, David Berkey, Leni Wylliams, and Mary Pat Henry. Most of her career was spent in Kansas City with the Wylliams Henry Contemporary Dance Theater. In her time with WHCDT, Jennifer was privileged to perform choreography by masters such as:

David Parsons, (Bachianna, Sleep Study) Bill T. Jones, (Havoc) Sean Currán, (Abstract Concrete, Symbolic Logic) Keven Iega Jeff (Church of Nations) William Whitener, (Patsy Cline Tribute) Milton Myers, (Variations) Fred Benjamin, (Ice Fire) and Rod Rogers (Percussion Suite) to highlight a few. 

 

As a choreographer and guest teacher, Jennifer has been fortunate to work with wonderful programs across the country, both in Universities and in private schools. She has guest taught or held faculty positions with respected organizations such as The Virginia School of the Arts, Washington University, the Kansas City Ballet, the Southeast Regional Ballet Association, and American Dance Center. She has held full time dance faculty positions at UMKC Conservatory, Webster University, and UMSL

 

Since 2010, Jennifer has been working alongside her family at Dance Project St. Louis, and directing her own company, SkyStone Contemporary Ballet (Formerly, Common Thread.)  as well as collaborating with local St.Louis Arts institutions such as Union Avenue Opera Theater, Shakespeare in the Streets, The DisAbility Project and Dance the Vote. 

Deborah Fahnestock, CoDirector of SkyStone

Dance/Administration Director

Deborah trained from the time she was 3 with her mother, Barbara Craig. Deborah holds a B.A in English from Lindenwood University, where she was also very active in the dance and theater areas.  She then went on to work alongside Barbara for the next 20 years, taking a pause for several years to work on her Master's degree in Psychology. 

Deborah originated the story for our original production of the Endless Forest Nutcracker, and also wrote the narrative that we use in the performance. She is also integral to the annual production of Nutcracker at the Fox, both in preparation of the children's case and the administration of communicating with the parents

Another interest of Deb's is film, narrative, and film production. She was part of Shady Row Productions as a Screenwriter from 2013-2016 in the 48 hour film project. The piece "wendy" won Audience favorite, Best Graphics, and Best Use of Character in 2015. 

 

Deb teaches all levels of Ballet and Jazz at SkyStone. Her choreography is presented annually in both our Endless Forest Nutcracker and Summer Recital. 

Jim Kimker, 

Tap/Theater/Ballroom & Social Dance

Mr. Kimker began his theater and dance training at a young age. Over the course of his career,

he has performed with the Muny, Six Flags over Mid America, St. Louis Civic Ballet, and the Alpha players

of Florissant. Jim holds a dual major in Agriculture and Business Administration from Southeast Missouri State University and well as a music minor.

From 2012-2016, Jim operated the Ivory Theater in Carondolet and led its revitalization from an unused 

facility to an exciting year-round professional theater facility presenting a diverse calendar of musicals, 

dramas, comedies, corporate functions, and special events. 

In addition to his work at SkyStone, Jim teaches for Dancing Classrooms (SLDC) a non profit social development program that partners with 5th grade classrooms in the STL Metro area, with the aim of empowering youth, teaching respectful interaction, and promoting teamwork through Ballroom Dance. SLDC uses the New York based Dancing Classrooms model, which can be seen in the award winning film Mad Hot Ballroom and engaging 40,000 students annually.

His teaching philosophy encourages students to discover their capabilities as artists, to enjoy learning and performing in an empowering environment, and to develop a love for theater and dance. 

Laura Leyes-Woods

Visual Art

Laura has been an educator since  1998 and has been teaching High School Art since 2001. She holds a B.S. in Education and a Master's in education with an Emphasis in Art. She has won the Teacher of the Year award at her school 3 times, and just recently won District Teacher of the Year for the 2017-2018 school year. 

Laura has been with the Hancock Place District since 2001, and teaches Intro to Art, Drawing, Painting, Ceramics, AP Studio 2D and AP Art History. She also enjoys baking, hiking, reading, and helping out with her husbands studio, The Firecracker Press. 

Laura's philosophy of arts education is that the Arts are an important aspect of our lives, and the Visual Arts allowed us an avenue of exploration in the world around us. She feels it is important to allow individuals freedom to explore the Visual Arts while simultaneously building skills. Through this experience we can learn to create, problem solve and strengthen our imagination. 

SkyStone Conservatory of the Arts