Life/Art Dance Ensemble

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Life/Art Dance EnsembleLife/Art Dance Ensemble is a 501(c)3 nonprofit contemporary dance company founded in 2009 by Artistic Director Jessica Riggs. It was created, in part, as a means with which to share creative works with the community and to collaborate with other artists working towards a similar vision of public and accessible professional arts. Life/Art has collaborated with the Boulder Concert Band, Transition Theater, Flatirons Community Orchestra, composers Russell Podgorsek and Chris Seal, and many other solo musicians and visual artists. In 2014, Life/Art collaborated with a videographer and a composer to create its first dance film, Songs for the Sane. In 2015, Life/Art hosted its first annual dance film festival (Life in Motion: A Dance Film). In addition to Life/Art’s contemporary dance productions, the company’s community engagement program provides low-income senior citizens along the Front Range with the opportunity to experience live professional dance performances. Over the past six years, Life/Art had reached over 1000 seniors with cultural experiences.

Jessica Riggs

Jessica Riggs graduated from Colorado State University with both a B.A. in Dance and a B.S. in Dietetics. During her college dance career, Jessica had the opportunity to work and study with choreographers and teachers such as Jane Slusarski-Harris, Chung-Fu Chang, Melissa Corr, Linda Harris-Cooper, Lisa Morgan, Judy Bejarano, Hannah Kahn, Gabriel Masson, Katie Elliot, and Kim Neal Knofsinger. Her own choreography was selected on multiple occasions for showcase in the CSU Fall and Spring Dance Concerts, as well as for adjudication in the 2007 American College Dance Festival. Since graduating from CSU in 2007, Jessica’s choreography has been featured in Ascential Dance Theatre’s Assemblage, Colorado Centre of Dance’s annual benefit for the Children’s Hospital, Hearts for Hearts’ Sake, Transition Theater’s Kali Creates Fate, and GAMMA-UT’s New Music Festival at the University of Texas. In 2009, Jessica founded Life/Art Dance Ensemble, a 501(c)3 registered nonprofit dance company that focuses on artistic collaboration and making the arts more accessible.


Karleen holds a B.A. in Performing Arts with a concentration in Dance and a Minor in English from Colorado State University. At CSU, she was privileged to work with faculty choreographers Chung-Fu Chang, Melissa Corr and Carol Roderick as well as several guest choreographers including Mary Wohl Haan of Boulder’s HAAN Dances and Jacques Heim of Diavolo Dance Theater in Los Angeles. She was a member of CSU’s Tour Dance Company and performed at K-12 schools throughout Colorado to share the art of dance with younger generations. Karleen also danced with Canyon Concert Ballet of Fort Collins, CO performing in the Nutcracker and David Taylor’s Contemporary Classics. After graduating in 2009, Karleen spent some time near Boston, MA dancing with modern dance company Forty Steps Dance under the artistic direction of Sallee Slagle. While in Massachusetts, she also taught ballet at the Hamilton-Wenham School of Dance and worked with Boston Ballet’s outreach program Citydance. Since 2010, Karleen has happily been back in her home state of Colorado. Her creative career has led her to teach ballet and early childhood dance at Ballet Nouveau Colorado (now the Colorado Conservatory of Dance), become a certified Zumba Fitness Instructor, and work as a professional wedding and portrait photographer. Karleen has been a member of Life/Art Dance Ensemble since 2010.


Mary Overton has been a member of Life/Art since 2014 and is thrilled to have the opportunity to dance with such talented individuals. Mary is a Colorado native who began her dance training at Little Theater in Littleton, CO at the age of 5. It was there that she found her love of dance and continued dancing throughout high school. She then attended Colorado State University where she studied Dance and Spanish, earning Bachelor’s degrees in Dance, Spanish, and Liberal Arts, and a Master’s degree in Spanish Languages, Literatures, and Cultures. As a CSU student, Mary had the privilege of working with various teachers and choreographers including Carol Roderick, Chung-Fu Chang, Jane Slusarski-Harris, Judy Bejarano, Katie Elliot, and Jacques Heim, among others. Mary was also a member of CSU’s Tour Dance Company and taught dance at various Fort Collins studios. In 2011, Mary returned to the Denver metro area and began teaching Spanish for Heritage Speakers and Spanish as a Second Language at Skinner Middle School. She is passionate about teaching and has helped to develop Spanish curriculum and assessments. Mary loves languages, traveling, and experiencing other cultures. She has traveled to more than a dozen countries and studied in both Quito, Ecuador and Granada, Spain. When she is not teaching or dancing, Mary enjoys spending time in the mountains skiing, camping and mountain biking with her husband, Dennis.

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