American Fork Team
Mindy Robbins, Owner & Artistic Director Musical Theatre (AF)
Mindy started performing when she was 4, taking private voice lessons at 6, worked professionally at the age of 16, and started teaching voice at 19. Mindy most recently played the role of Miss Honey the 2018 production of Matilda at Tuacahn. She has also played Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins at Tuachan in 2013, Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady in 2007, Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun in 2002, and Liesl in The Sound of Music in 2001. Previously, Mindy toured with the Broadway Company of Les Miserables, covering the role of Eponine played by Sutton Foster and starring Colm Wilkinson. Other credits include Walt Disney World’s Hoop Dee Doo and Kids of the Kingdom, Tokyo Disney’s Peco’s Goofy, BYU’s Young Ambassadors and Lagoon’s Music USA. She has been a guest performer for the opening ceremonies of the Olympic World Senior Games. Mindy has recorded for Disney, with Mandy Moore, karaoke itunes songs and on numerous radio commercials. She has performed with Colm Wilkinson, Jason Alexander, Sutton Foster and Sam Harris. She has performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Lex DeAzevedo’s work, Gloria, The Life of Christ as Mary. Mindy guest-starred on the national television series, Touched by an Angel, and has been seen on national television commercials. She graduated with a BFA in Music Dance Theatre from BYU where she has taught voice in the school of music. She loves sharing her passion for performing with her students. Mindy is an owner of COPA which currently has three locations in Utah and over 750 students. She is a member of the Actor’s Equity Association.
Nathan Balser, Artistic Director & Consultant (AF)
Nathan is a graduate of BYU with a BS in Therapeutic Recreation and The University of Utah with a Masters of Fine Arts. He has performed on Broadway in the original cast of Promises, Promises with Kristen Chenoweth, 9 to 5: The Musical with Allyson Janney, Damn Yankees with Cheyenne Jackson, and Legally Blonde. You may have seen Nathan on CBS in the Kennedy Center Honors in 2009, 2010, and 2011 honoring Mel Brooks, Jerry Herman, Meryl Streep, and Barbara Cook or on the Tony Awards in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 with Mamma Mia!, Promises, Promises, and Neil Patrick Harris, respectively. He also performed in the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade with the cast of Legally Blonde in 2009 and is on the MTV recording of the same show. He was also in the world premiere of Minsky’s in the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles and in Mamma Mia! in Las Vegas. Nathan played the role of Craig in R.R.R.E.D. at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2010 and participated in several workshops and readings in NYC including Promises, Promises with Anne Hathaway, Brigadoon directed and choreographed by Rob Ashford, Ever After with Dough Hughes, and Leap of Faith starring Sutton Foster and Raul Esparza. Nathan also toured internationally with Bianca Marroquin in Solo Pido, and nationally with Cathy Rigby in Peter Pan. Nathan is a member of Actor’s Equity Association and SAG/AFTRA.
Suzie Balser, Owner & Artistic Director for Dance (AF)
Suzie graduated from BYU with a BFA in Music Dance and Theatre where she performed as a Young Ambassador and won the Theatre Department’s award for Best Supporting Actress and an Irene Ryan Nomination for Ilona Ritter in She Loves Me. Acting credits include Aheh in Sunfish at the New York ASCAP foundation musical theatre workshop with Stephen Schwartz, Stephanie in the New York production of Katie Thompson and Patrick Livingston’s R.R.R.E.D., Sophie in the Las Vegas production of Mamma Mia!, Nellie Forbush in Tuacahn’s South Pacific, Molly in The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Winnie Tate in Annie Get Your Gun, Laurie in Oklahoma!, Maude in Funny Girl, Lorena Bobbit in Odyssey’s Thriller, and Demeter in CATS. In addition to the stage, Suzie can be seen in local and national commercials. In conjunction with performing Suzie has taught music, dance, and theatre around the country. While at BYU, Suzie was a student teacher in the dance department. She has also instructed at institutions such as BYU Childrens’ Creative Dance, Encore Academy, Musical Theater in Las Vegas as well as the West Orange, New Jersey Metrowest JCC Theater Arts Program. Most recently, Suzie has taught as adjunct faculty at Western Wyoming Community College Department of Theatre and Dance where she directed Flowers for Algernon and choreographed Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Desert Dance Company. Last summer, Suzie was the Assistant Director of Tuacahn’s production of Grease and was on the creative team for the Nauvoo Historical Pageant in Nauvoo, IL. Suzie is also a member of the Actors Equity Association.
Cherie Call, Artistic Director Pop Music (AF)
Cherie Call was born and raised in Mesa, Arizona. She has released ten albums of her original songs. Cherie has played “in the round” at The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, and is a two time finalist in the prestigious Kerrville Newfolk songwriting competition. Her songs have appeared in various films, including the Banff Mountain Film Festival award winning film, “True Fans”, which featured her song, “Heart Made of Wind’. Cherie collaborated with Lyndy Butler on a song called, “The Astronaut and the Mermaid’, which won the Children’s category of The John Lennon Songwriting Contest in 2016. Cherie is a member of the Utah supergroup, The Lower Lights. She teaches songwriting and directs the Pop Music program at Utah Conservatory of Performing Arts. Cherie lives in Utah with her husband and four children.
Tyne Crockett, Dance Academy Director (AF)
Tyne Valgardson Crockett began her dance career studying ballet, jazz and contemporary here in Utah. She then attended UVU in Modern Dance, where she was a member of the Nationally ranked UVU Dance Team and completed a Disney College Program at Walt Disney World in Entertainment. Tyne has served as Choreographer for Nebo School District where she choreographed over 15 musical theater productions and concerts. She also served as the Jazz Department Director at Academy of Ballet and Academy Director at The Performers Place. In 2013, she teamed with Karen Jensen of BYU and founded the Utah Dance Film Festival, MOVE: A 24-Hour Film Competition and ACTION! Dance for Film Workshops, where she currently serves as Director. Tyne has choreographed productions at the SCERA Center for the Arts, including Footloose, The Musical and My Fair Lady. Tyne has a passion for helping her students reach their potential and become true artists. She been with Utah COPA for over two years and she has loved every minute of it.
DeLayne Dayton, Faculty & Director Prodigy Performing Company (AF)
Delayne has a passion for music and theater. She received her BA from BYU in Family Science with a minor in Music. She has taught piano for 10 years and directed the Dayton Singer’s Company performing group since 2008. DeLayne loves being a part of our great community theaters. She has performed at the Hale Centre Theatre in Sandy, Hale Center Theater in Orem and the Scera. Her performing credits are: Pirates of Penzance, Oliver, Beauty and the Beast, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Disco Inferno, Funny Girl, and most recently the enjoyable part of Miss Hannigan in Annie and M’Lynn in Steel Magnolias. DeLayne loves performing with her children and loves being a wife to husband, Brendon, and mother to Jaxson, Brinley, Bailey, Bridger, Olivia, and Millie.
Adam Holdaway, POP Academy Director and COPA Managing Director (AF)
Adam graduated from Brigham Young University with a BM in Music Education. He has over 20 years experience in teaching, both privately and in the public schools. Adam is also a free-lance musician and producer. Adam has had the opportunity to share the stage with many talented artists, including Grammy winning artist Randy Bachman, Steve Smith from Journey, session drummer Gregg Bissonnette, and local artists Jericho Road, Cherie Call, and Sam Payne. He is proficient on both drums and bass and has been performing for over 25 years. He got his start playing in local bands. His first major band, Nectar, took the local market by storm back in 1992. Shortly after that, he joined the band Mulberry Drive, which also became a big success both locally and in college markets throughout the country. Their first single, “Thousand Years” reached all the way to #14 on several Indy radio charts. He has also performed with several other local acts, including Lewis, Wave O’ Blues, Steam Donkey, Bobo’s Revenge, Phat Daddy, The Brother Chunky Band, and the Stewart Dodge Band.
Katie Higbee, Academy Director Musical Theatre (AF)
Katie made her performing debut at 7 years old in The Music Man (unless you count the Sunday evening concerts on the fire place hearth). She participated in musical theater consistently all through her childhood, studied dance and gymnastics, and started voice lessons at 14. She attended BYU majoring in Music Dance Theater and has performed in community and professional theaters throughout Utah and California. Katie discovered early on in her career that she had a knack for teaching and choreographing. Katie has choreographed for numerous high schools and junior high schools, as well as community and professional theatre companies throughout the west. She has also taught dance and choreographed for singing groups at The Academy of Ballet, Encore and Center Stage, where she directed all of the vocal companies from 1997-2000. Katie has choreographed for Lagoon under the direction of Mark Huffman and has also had the opportunity to be on production teams for large events like the Pioneer Sesquicentennial Celebration at the LaVell Edwards Stadium and the Newport Beach Temple Youth Celebration featuring 4,000 youth from 16 different Southern California LDS Stakes. Katie’s students have gone on to star in feature films, perform in lead roles on Broadway, in National Broadway tours, and in professional theaters all over the world as well as on TV’s Dancing With the Stars, So you think you can Dance, and Dance Wars. Katie has also used her talents to serve her community and church as Stake Arts Council Chair an starting an Arts Council in Saratoga Springs Utah. Katie thrives on helping students grow as artists and people and finds great joy in their accomplishments – both personal and professional.
Tiffany Nutter, MDT Company Director and PM Company Director (AF)
Tiffany Nutter spent the majority of her formative years fronting her family band with her siblings, singing at events all over Southern California. She began training in piano at the age of 4 and has received superior marks multiple times in both Certificate of Merit and The National Piano Guild. She trained in ballet, tap, and jazz for over a decade and began choreographing professionally for show choirs before graduating high school. She received a talent scholarship from the MDT program at BYU, where she would later graduate with her BFA. She has performed as well as choreographed and music directed at the Playmill Theatre in Montana, the SCERA and the Hale Center Theatre – both in Orem – as well as multiple community productions throughout the state of Utah. Tiffany was a member of the inaugural cast at Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan, where she met her husband. She headed the choral department at Lehi High School before graduating from BYU and starting her family. She spent a decade in California, raising her 4 children, teaching private voice and piano lessons, singing with the Orange County Millennial Choir Organization, and creating and directing musical revues for the community. She is happy to be back in Utah where there is an unsurpassed love and appreciation for the performing arts.
Cori Ollerton, POP Co-Academy Director (AF)
Cori is honored to be directing Fusion as well as teaching our Contemporary Vocal Tech classes. She has been performing for years, most recently in the car with her 4 kids. Cori received an MDT degree from BYU in 1992 and has taught voice for 24 years. Her performing has led her to over 16 different countries and given her opportunities to sing for commercials as well as video and stage productions. Although she loves her job and performing some of her favorite roles are just make-believing in her own living room. It’s amazing what we can become when we just believe. Pop music and styling are all about the person creating the story. Let’s live what we know!
Jake Suazo, Acting Company Director (AF)
Jake Ben Suazo has a BA from Utah Valley University and a MFA in Acting from Northern Illinois University where he specialized in Meisner technique. He has twenty years of professional theatre, film and television acting experience, he recently played Higgs on the WB’s The Outpost, is a cast member on BYUTV’s Showoffs and played King Noah in the Book of Mormon Videos. He has twenty years of stage directing and producing experience. Was a founding member of the Warboy Theatre Projects and Thrillionaires Improv Musical Theatre. He has 20 years of improv teaching experience. Was a member of Comedysportz for 15 years and has studied improv with Improv Olympic, The Groundlings. The Impro Theatre and Second City. He currently adjuncts at Utah Valley University where he teaches acting for stage and film and has developed and established their improv courses and improv team.
Julie Suazo, Acting Company Director (AF)
Julie has performed and created theater for over 20 years. She holds a BS degree in Theatre Arts from Utah Valley University. While at UVU, Julie was nominated for an Irene Ryan Award 4 times and competed at regionals. She concluded her time at UVU with her Senior project performance of Much Ado About Nothing (Beatrice). During her time at UVU she taught youth theatre and directed youth full stage productions for 5 years at Scera Youth Theatre and Utah Valley University summer youth programs. Film credits include Voteutah.gov commercials (wife) and Love, Fall and Order for the Hallmark Channel (mayor). Her favorite role of all time was Mrs. Jennings in Sense and Sensibility at the Orem Hale Centre Theatre. Creating and teaching acting is my passion!
Emma Austin, Dance Faculty (AF)
Originally from Alpine, Utah, Emma’s love of performing started at the age of 3. She’s danced for 21 years (competitively since the age of 11), and is trained in jazz, ballet/pointe, contemporary, hip hop, musical theater, and tap styles. She also has 12 years of vocal training and has performed in community and school musical productions throughout her elementary, middle school, and high school years. Emma continues her training as a Music Dance Theater student at Brigham Young University. She is a current member of BYU’s Young Ambassadors and serves as the Assistant Dance Captain. Emma has performed across the country—from California to New York City—with other elite performing groups including Manhattan Concert Productions, the Young Performing Missionaries of Nauvoo, Illinois, and COPA’s Principal company. Some of her favorite credits include Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Laurie in Oklahoma, Alice in The Secret Garden, and featured dance roles in West Side Story and Sunset by the Mississippi. Emma has taught and choreographed all over Utah County, including at the Utah Conservatory for the Performing Arts, Lone Peak High School’s drama department, and Timberline Middle School’s drama department. She cherishes the opportunity to share her passion for the performing arts and hopes to help every student find confidence in all their personal and performing endeavors.
Clarisse Austin, Dance Faculty (AF)
Clarisse Austin is excited to join the faculty at Utah Copa! Originally from Chicago, Clarisse is currently a model, dancer, choreographer, visual artist and Music Dance Theater BFA student at Brigham Young University. At BYU she has performed on both Young Ambassadors and Contemporary Dance Theater. Clarisse most recently had the opportunity to be Ermengarde and female ensemble swing in “Hello Dolly” at Hale Center Sandy. As an instructor she is committed to teaching technical mastery with a diverse movement vocabulary, for versatile and well-rounded performers.
Brooke Bennett-Smith, Dance Faculty (AF)
Brooke Bennett is from Atlanta, Georgia. There she began her training with Southern Performing Arts Academy, formerly known as Lawrenceville School of Ballet, under the direction of Phyllis Allen. When Brooke was 12, she began performing with the Pre-Professional company, Southern Ballet Theatre. Brooke is a graduate from Utah Valley University where she received her BFA in dance with a ballet emphasis. Brooke received a half-tuition ballet scholarship along with the Dean Merit Scholarship 2015-2016. Brooke received a full-tuition ballet scholarship in the fall of 2016 and maintained that scholarship until she graduated in the spring of 2018. Brooke received her training at Utah Valley University from Mark Borchelt, Heather Gray, Jamie Johnson, Monica Campbell, Nicole Ortega, Justine Sheedy-Kramer, Amy Markgraff-Jacobson, and Jacqueline Colledge. During her 4 years at UVU she performed with the Repertory Ballet Ensemble. She has also performed in various ballets such as The Nutcracker, Peter Pan, Tribute, and Serenade with Utah Metropolitan Ballet. Brooke performed “Tower” set by Andy Noble with Repertory Dance Theatre in the fall of 2017. She then had the opportunity to perform that piece in the gala at the American College Dance Association in the spring of 2018. Brooke danced professionally with Utah Metropolitan Ballet from 2018-2020. She is sharing her love of dance by teaching in Utah County.
Courtney Byrom, MDT Faculty (AF)
Courtney loves to sing and has been blessed with many opportunities to share her talents. Her favorite roles include Narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast, Sister Mary Patrick in Sister Act, and Grace Farrell in Annie. She has been performing with Jenny Phillips’ Fireside Choir for 6 years, and most recently was thrilled to sing in the Saratoga Springs Easter Chorus as Martha in The Lamb of God. Courtney has a very distinct laugh and loves to make others smile and laugh along with her.
When she isn’t performing on stage, she enjoys teaching music to youth…She absolutely loves to see that “A-ha” moment on their faces when they finally perfect a song! Her first opportunity to Direct was her senior year at Virgin Valley High School when she created and directed the show choir Ovations. She has had many opportunites since then, directing, music directing, and serving as the Vice-Chair of West Jordan Youth Theatre board for 5 years, Directing and Music Directing the last 3 shows at the Performers Place, and Assistant Directing and accompaning the Singing Sensations at Westbrook Elementary. She is very excited at her newest opportunity as a vocal instructor for Utah COPA!
Courtney also loves to be in the recording studio. She has recorded over 50 demo covers for Priddis Music/Prosound Karaoke company and is currently recording for Dan Markosian as Edna in War Letters.
Courtney could not do any of this without the help of her amazing husband, Tony, who shares her love of the Arts, by teaching cello lessons and designing incredible sets for theatre! She is also the proud Mom to three beautiful and crazy daughters and one handsome, just as crazy, son!
Maddie Butler, Dance Faculty (AF)
Maddie grew up dancing competitively and was a member of a pre-professional contemporary dance company for two years from age 15 to 17. She was chosen as an Orange County Register Dancer of the Year nominee two years in a row and the recipient of multiple choreography awards. Most recently, she has had the opportunity to assist Adam Dyer as Associate Choreographer in recent musicals such as the world premiere of 1820: The Musical and BYU Mainstage Production’s Fiddler on the Roof. Maddie is currently teaching and choreographing at several studios in Utah and Salt Lake Valley. She has collaborated with world-renowned artists and performed works from Martha Graham, Jenn Freeman, Jesse Obremski, and Alice Klock. Maddie has trained internationally in contemporary dance at the B12 Festival in Berlin and Impulstanz in Vienna and is now a fourth-year student and dance major at BYU. Since her freshman year, she has been part of the top-tier touring company, Contemporary Dance Theater, and is currently serving in the presidency.
Sarah Chaffin, MDT Faculty (AF)
Sarah Chaffin is a Texas transplant to Montana and currently resides in Lehi, Utah with her family. She pursued acting, singing, dancing and musical theatre from a very early age. She began singing with the Texas Girls Choir in fourth grade and never looked back. Sarah has an AA degree in Vocal Performance/Musical Theatre from Casper Community College and a BFA in Vocal Performance from the University of Utah. She studied voice and performance in Italy where she sang with the program La Musica Lirica in the opera division. She has performed, assistant directed and choreographed shows from Texas, Wyoming, Montana to Utah. Some of her favorite roles to perform have been Mabel in Pirates of Penzance and Meg in Little Women. Sarah currently serves as a member on the school board for Lincoln Academy and is in charge of all their musical theater experiences. Sarah’s passion is teaching in the community and loves watching her students learn and grow. Inhale oxygen, exhale musical theater!
Tamara Marshall Chamberlain, Dance Faculty (AF)
Tamara studied at Brigham Young University and toured with the International Folk Dance Ensemble for four years. She graduated with a B.A. in Dance as well as Elementary Education. She was in a tap ensemble at BYU directed by Colleen West and she also taught tap at Center Stage in Orem. She then went on to receive a Master of Arts Degree in Dance from BYU with a focus on incorporating dance into the elementary classroom. After BYU, Tamara lived in Portland, Oregon for 7 years where she taught in the schools and founded a children’s performing group called, “The Kidz Company.” They performed in various venues around the city but their favorite was the Portland Rose Festival Junior’s Parade. After Portland, Tamara lived in Gilbert, Arizona where she taught specifically dance in the elementary schools for 10 years. Currently Tamara is adjunct faculty in the dance department at BYU where she teaches tap dance, cultural dance, and American folk dance. She also is the author of a children’s book titled, “If I Could Dance Around the World.” Tamara is the mother of four children and loves spending time with them and her husband, Tom.
Megan Mack Christensen, MDT Faculty (AF)
Megan is excited to be back in Utah after almost 20 years in the Los Angeles area. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a BFA in Music Dance and Theatre and Theatre Arts Education. While at BYU, she had the pleasure of performing with The Young Ambassadors and throughout the school and community in shows such as Children of Eden, Brigadoon, The Taffeta’s, as Millie in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Aldonza in Man of La Mancha, and as Calamity Jane in Calamity Jane at the Jackson Hole Playhouse. Upon graduation, she taught Theater at AFHS and was Adjunct Faculty at BYU as a Vocal Instructor. During her time in California, Megan shared her love of performing arts, choreographing and directing her Children’s Performing Group “Sing With Me”, teaching throughout the local school districts as a Music Specialist, and directing a local church and community children’s choir for over 11 years under the direction of Film Director and Music Composer, Richard Rich. Megan has been a Private Vocal Teacher and Dramatic Coach for over 22 years and loves seeing the personal confidence and growth that comes through participation in performing arts.
Brooklyn Cottle, Dance Faculty (AF)
Brooklyn has been dancing since she was 3 years old. Her passion for dancing inspires her life! She loves sharing that inspiration with young dancers, helping them ignite their passion for the art of dance and watching them develop into the expressive, confident artists she knows that they can be. She is an energetic technically trained performance based dancer trained in Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Tap, Ballet, Hip Hop, Voice, Musical Theater, Clogging, Irish and World Dance styles. She grew up training at studios in Utah Valley participating in many competitions, performances, tours, and conventions winning many individual and team awards. Brooklyn absolutely loves everything Disney and has especially loved her many opportunities to perform at Disneyland. She was a member of Pleasant Grove High School’s Dance Company where she served as President, Historian, and Choreographer. As a member of PGHS Drama Club she won State Competition awards for her choreography and participated in many musicals and competitions. She was accepted into BYU as a dance major where she continued her training in ballet, jazz and contemporary styles and expanded her training into Clogging, Irish, and World Dance for the past 2 years. She loves being a part of BYU’s Folk Dance Team where she has learned and performed many dance styles from around the world. Throughout her journey at BYU, Brooklyn found a love of biomechanics and kinesiology. Combined with her desire to help others optimize their movement and improve their way of life she has decided to pursue becoming a Physical Therapist, changing her major to Exercise Science with a minor in Dance. Her passion and desire for understanding biomechanics and kinesiology helps her support dancers in a healthy foundational training.
Annalise Decker, Dance Faculty (AF)
Annalise Decker is so excited to be teaching at COPA! She was born and raised in Mesa, Arizona. Annalise has been performing her whole life and is pursuing Music Dance Theatre at Brigham Young University. She is currently performing with the Young Ambassadors Team at BYU. Annalise has trained in all styles of competitive dance since she was two years old. She grew up working as an actor at Hale Theatre Arizona. Some past credits include: Big Fish, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Into the Woods, Singing in the Rain, Guys and Dolls, A Christmas Carol, and many more! She was most recently seen in BYU’s production of Godspell in 2023. Annalise has a passion for singing, acting, dancing, creating, teaching, and any chance to be on the stage! She loves working with children and teens and loves to watch them shine! She is so excited to be apart of the COPA family!
Nancy Donnes, Dance Faculty (AF)
Nancy Donnes is a dancer born and raised in Hammond, Louisiana whose infectious spirit and energetic movement quality have taken her far. She graduated from Marymount Manhattan College with a BFA in Dance and a Minor in Arts Management in 2021. She was also awarded the Gold Key for excellence in the Jazz Concentration. While at school, Nancy was selected to perform in many works including a reconstruction of Jessica Lang’s piece titled “Lines Cubed” as well as works by Antony Morigerato, Belinda McGuire, and John Heginbotham. Nancy has been involved in many TV/Film projects including an appearance in the USA Network’s “Queen of the South,” a Walmart commercial that aired during the Oscars, and most recently appeared in the feature film, “Tall Girl 2″ on Netflix. Nancy is also a company member with Odyssey Dance Theatre!
Emerson Earnshaw, Dance Faculty (AF)
Emerson trained at COPA for six years in both the dance and musical theatre academies and performed on tours to Tuacahn, Disneyland, Orlando, and on a Royal Carribean Cruise during that time. He has also performed at a number of venues around the valley including Hale Centre Theatre in Sandy, Hale Center Theater Orem, Sundance Summer Theater, and the Scera Shell. Before he discovered the magic of performing, Emerson was a competitive gymnast. He is currently studying molecular biology and contemporary dance at Brigham Young University and his BYU performing credits include dancEnsemble and BranchOut (in partnership with Michigan State University).
Lindsay Folkman, Dance Faculty (AF)
Lindsay Folkman has trained in Contemporary, Jazz, Ballet, Modern, Tap, and a variety of International dance styles. Lindsay has created and directed 15 original full length dance productions and countless repertoire pieces that have been awarded in competitions and festivals nationwide over her 25+ years experience in teaching, choreographing, and directing. Lindsay has established and built up four largely successful Contemporary and Jazz programs for ballet studios throughout Utah Valley and will continue her customized Contemporary Ballet curriculum at Utah Festival Ballet. She has twice received Outstanding Choreographer at the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix and is a 9x recipient of “Utah’s Best of State” award in Choreography. She is currently the director of “Voices: A Choreography Workshop” for aspiring choreographers and teachers throughout Utah. This coming season Lindsay will be directing and choreographing for COPA‘s Junior Dance Company, as well as expanding her freelance work through musical theater, ballet studios, performing companies, and dance competitions. — lindsayfolkman.com
Capri Gallacher, Dance Faculty (AF)
Capri has been a part of COPA’s Principal MDT program, as well as a member of their dance team, CDC. Capri has had the opportunity to be on a competition dance team for over eight years and has had much experience with the performing arts and dance competitions. She has also been a winner of a Nexus dance convention scholarship while part of the COPA dance program. Capri is currently a student at UVU and is excited to be working toward a degree in architecture. She has a deep love for dance and is so grateful to teach. Capri is so happy to be a part of the COPA family!
Joy Harris, Dance Faculty (AF)
Joy Harris was raised in the beautiful scenery of Idaho and Utah, where the freedom in her environment allowed for creativity and exploration. Being one of five daughters who all enjoy the visual and performing arts she found herself ‘growing up in a musical’ where movie quotes, song and dance were frequently used as a means of comedic expression. While in high school, Joy had many opportunities to perform in theater and dance. She pursued dreams of performing and teaching collegiately and professionally. Joy currently holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance Choreography from Jacksonville University and a Bachelor’s degree in Dance from Brigham Young University. While performing collegiately, she had the opportunity to tour Central America and some areas in the United States. Joy’s dance choreography has been performed nationally and internationally by BYU-Idaho’s Dance Alliance Company as well as Braided Light, Aspire and The Dance Collaborative companies. She has had the privilege of teaching dancers of all ages and backgrounds in ballet, jazz, hip hop, tap and contemporary. Joy taught at BYU-Idaho for nine years and is currently adjunct faculty at BYU. She is loving being at COPA and working with the dancers!
Cilla Harrison, MDT Acting Faculty (AF)
Cilla made her stage debut at age three as “Russian baby in head scarf” and as a child was featured in numerous toy commercials (My Little Pony, E.T. Doll, Smurf Dolls, GloWorms, many more) in which her specialty was not looking into the camera. She appeared in an assortment of T.V. variety show musical specials with famous friends like Dick Van Dyke, Ruth Buzzi, and Jerry Lee Lewis, and a children’s T.V. show where she spoke heavily coached and tortured Spanish in Villa Alegre. Most of her adult professional life has been in making scenery for film, T.V., theatre, and even haunted houses. Cilla has a degree in Theatre, taught with the BYU Shakespeare Fellowship, and coaches acting privately. Her favorite stage roles are Cecily Cardew in The Importance of Being Earnest and Praise to Buddha soloist #3 in The King and I.
Topher Hill, Dance Faculty (AF)
Christopher (Topher) Hill began dancing when he was eight, inspired by tap dancer Arthur Duncan. He grew up in New Hampshire, but ten years ago, his family moved to Utah, where he was a ballroom dancer for several years, before returning to his first love: tap dance. Topher is a student at BYU, studying communications. He dances on Rhythm Nation (a tap company based in Highland) and is the president of BYU’s tap club.
DeLonne Hucks, MDT Faculty (AF)
Marcie Jacobsen, MDT Faculty (AF)
Marcie has a BFA in Music Dance Theatre from BYU where she was Part-time Music Faculty for over ten years. While a student at BYU Marcie toured with the Young Ambassadors and performed in numerous musicals including West Side Story, Evita and Chess. Most recently Marcie played Golde in Fiddler on the Roof (Sundance Summer Theatre), Kala in Tarzan (Hale Center Theatre Orem) & Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! (HCTO) Other favorite roles include Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, The Narrator in Joseph…Technicolor Dreamcoat, Audrey II (The Voice of the Plant) in Little Shop of Horrors & the title role in The Drowsy Chaperone. In addition to performing Marcie has directed and/or music directed for the Hale Center Theatre Orem, The SCERA, Provo Theatre Company, Actor’s Repertory Theatre Company & Centerpoint Legacy Theatre.
Lindsey Larsen, Dance Faculty (AF)
Lindsey Larsen’s initial ballet training began at age four and includes training with Barlow Arts Conservatory and with Ballet West Academy Thanksgiving Point, sponsored by the Barbara Barrington Jones Family Foundation. During her years with Ballet West Academy, Lindsey trained under the direction of Jennie Creer King and Maricar Drilon and was a recipient of multiple merit scholarships. As a young student, Lindsey enjoyed performing in The Washington Ballet’s “Cinderella” as the role of an Autumn Fairy Corps Member, several years in Ballet West’s “The Nutcracker”, and had numerous performing opportunities through Ballet West Academy including roles as Lilac Fairy and Lead Garland Fairy in “Sleeping Beauty”, and with Ballet West II as a Rosebud in “Beauty and the Beast”. Lindsey has been privileged to receive training from Irena and Slawomir Wozniak, Alaine Haubert, Alexei Moskalenko, Pamela Robinson-Harris, Jan Fugit, Jessia Thompson, Lindsay Folkman, Albert Blaise Cattafi, Wilson Domingues, Zherlin Ndudi, and Calvin Kitten. She has also attended summer intensive courses with the Washington Ballet under the artistic direction of Septime Weber, Ballet Hawaii, Master Ballet Academy, and Ballet West Academy. Lindsey was crowned Miss Lehi 2019 and received the talent award for her performance of La Esmerelda. She is currently serving as Miss Utah County. Through her service, she created a program that brings dance education to students in elementary schools and to individuals with special needs at the high school level. She has also started a DanceSport class with Special Olympics. She is currently pursuing a BFA in classical ballet at the University of Utah with an emphasis on performance.
Ginger Leishman, Dance Faculty (AF)
Began her dance training at the age of three from numerous studios including Center Stage and the Dance Club. She also trained in the Royal Academy of Dance where she received high merits and distinction in each level from Pre-Primary through Advanced Two. At age fourteen Ginger began her training with Jennie Creer-King at Classical Ballet Academy where she was able to work with many incredible teachers and choreographers including Attila Ficzere, Victor Plotnikov, and Romi Beppu. At Classical Ballet Academy she danced the role of Gretel in Hansel and Gretel in 2007 and 2008 as well as Snow Queen, Spanish, and Chinese in the Nutcracker. Ginger received her BFA in Ballet with emphases in Performance, Teaching, and Character Dance from the University of Utah in 2013. During her time at the University of Utah she was a member of Utah Ballet and Character Dance Ensemble, which provided her with the incredible experience of working with world renowned choreographers as well as training and performing in San José, Costa Rica; Kiev, Ukraine; and Seoul, Korea while representing the Ballet Department. She performed and choreographed in most of the student concerts for both the Ballet and Modern departments and was awarded departmental scholarships for each semester at the University. After Graduating, Ginger traveled the world dancing for Disney Cruise Lines on the Disney Wonder. She performed various roles including the Lion King Pas De Deux dancer, a Cinderella Waltz dancer, an Aladdin Harem dancer, a Ribbon dancer for Pocahontas, and a Spanish Web dancer as one of Tarzan’s monkeys. Ginger has taught at various studios throughout Utah since 2008. She loves to watch her students progress and see their love for ballet grow. She married her best friend Lane in 2016 and has enjoyed introducing him to the world of ballet one show at a time.
Anna Low, Dance Faculty (AF)
Anna Low is a performer who enjoys musical theatre, opera and dance. She is currently studying vocal performance at Brigham Young University where she was recently a finalist for Brigham Young University’s Junior Concerto. Favorite past theatre roles include Susan in A Dinner Engagement, Janet in The Drowsy Chaperone, Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, Gwendolyn in The Importance of Being Earnest and Dorothy in Thoroughly Modern Molly. She loves teaching tap at Utah COPA. She also performs as a princess at Springville Princess Parties and teaches private voice lessons. When she’s not on stage she loves playing games, hiking and spending time with her nine nieces and nephews!
Penny McCord, MDT Faculty (AF)
Penny began her study of voice, dance and piano in elementary school and continued through college. She was a Talent Award winner at the Miss Utah Pageant and was awarded Entertainer of the Year while attending Dixie College. Penny graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Fashion Merchandising and a minor in music. Penny has always loved performing and has found a new love in directing. She has been Music Director for several Alpine Community Theater productions. Penny also directed, choreographed and produced several musicals for Westfield Elementary School. She has also taught voice lessons for over 20 years. Other favorite credits include Southern Utah Tour of “My Turn on Earth”, Sister Sarah in “Guys and Dolls”, Dolly in Hello Dolly”, Marian in “Music Man”, Grace in “Annie” and Tuptim in “The King and I”. Penny’s favorite role of all is that of wife to Rick and mother to Mason, Madison, Zackary, and Xander.
Devin Neilsen, Dance Faculty (AF)
Bio coming soon…
Karen Oldham, Dance Faculty (AF)
Karen Oldham received her degree in Dance Education from Brigham Young University. While attending BYU, she was an honored recipient of the “Dee Winterton Spirit of Dance” Award, the Distinguished Senior Award, as well as the Outstanding Service Award. She was also a member of the BYU Young Ambassadors, BYU Dance Ensemble, the UVSC Cheer Team, and the UVSC Ballroom Tour Team who won the team event in the Blackpool British Championship in 1999. She has performed and toured in parts of Russia, Japan, Canada, Scotland, England, Ireland and throughout the U.S. During her undergrad work, Karen served as the Dance Major Student Representative for the College of Health and Human Performance Student Council, Assistant Choreographer for the 2002 Olympic Production, Light of the World, and Dance Captain for the Young Ambassadors. Upon completion of her degree, Karen joined the faculty of the BYU Young Dance Makers and Timpanogos High School where she coached and taught dance for six years. Karen currently enjoys directing DCFA, a Dance Company Festival, and teaching for different studios throughout the valley, including Utah Copa. She values dance as a tool for expressivity and enjoys sharing her passion with her students and her children. Karen and her family reside in Orem, Utah.
Jamie Sarmiento, MDT Faculty (AF)
Jamie Sarmiento began her performing and dance career as a young teenager in various performing groups and stage productions. She enjoyed featured dance roles in musicals such as West Side Story, Beauty and the Beast, and Where the Wild Things Are. While in college, she was captain of the Utah Blitzz Dancers, performing at halftime shows at the University of Utah Stadium. She has been teaching performing groups and children’s dance classes for eighteen years. She has choreographed over a dozen children’s junior productions. Favorites include Beauty and the Beast, Peter Pan, Seven Brides for Seven brothers, and The Little Mermaid. She also likes to “fly” as her favorite form of exercise is aerial arts. She especially loves aerial silks and Lyra, (aerial hoop.) Jamie has spent a good amount of time in the recording studio as a recording artist for Siafam Productions, recording various pop songs for The European and aerobic exercise market. Jamie graduated from Utah Valley University in 2010 and taught sixth grade for six years. She now stays home with her son Mace, as she plays her favorite role of all, “mommy.”
Brandalee Streeter, MDT Faculty (AF)
Oakley Thacker, Dance Faculty (AF)
Oakley Thacker is currently studying Music Dance Theatre as well as performing with the Young Ambassadors at Brigham Young University. Oakley has trained in Hip Hop since he was eight years old and instantly fell in love with it. He also has trained in breakdance, tumbling, tap, jazz, ballroom, contemporary, and ballet at Center Stage, The Point Academy, and Utah COPA. Oakley’s recent credits include Garvin in “Footloose,” Cat in the Hat in “Seussical the Musical”, Lumiere in “Beauty and the Beast,” Ralphie in “A Christmas Story,” Donkey & Lord Farquaad in “Shrek the Musical,” Fritz in Odyssey Dance Theatre’s production of “Redux Nut-Cracker,” and performing in the Lincoln Center in New York. Oakley has also been awarded first place in Musical Theatre and Pantomime in the 5A state competition for Utah. At the Utah Shakespeare Festival, he was awarded first place in Duo/Trio scenes. He has been nationally ranked in Hip Hop. Oakley is thrilled to be teaching at Utah COPA!
Colleen West, Dance Faculty (AF)
Colleen N. West – [email protected]
Recently retired Full-time Associate Professor of Dance at Brigham Young University, Dance Department. (Taught 22 different dance courses and developed 9 dance courses for dance department)
Current Director, Choreographer and Teacher for “Foot Poetry Tap Dance Ensemble” 20 dancers. 2010-present.
Director, Choreographer and Teacher for “Utah’s Feet With Rhythm” Tap Dance Company, 1992-1998.
Author of the book, “Tap Dance Fundamentals for Higher Education” Kendall/Hunt publisher.
Author for the following professional articles:
- “Tapping Into College” Dance Teacher Magazine,
- “Ideas for Change, Requiring Tap in Dance Major Programs” On Tap, International Tap Association,
- “Introducing Improvisational Skills Through Rhythm Tap”, Journal of Physical Education Recreation and Dance,
- “Dancing By Heart, Dance Teacher Magazine.
Director of BYU Tap Dance Program for 25 years (up to 12 classes).
Choreographed 29 tap dance works for major concerts at Brigham Young University. (World of Dance, Homecoming Spectacular, Christmas Around the World, Contemporary Dance Theatre Concert).
Choreographed tap dance works for International Folk Dance Ensemble, Contemporary Dance Theater and BYU Ballroom Dance Company. These tap dance works have been performed in 36 countries.
Choreographed 78 technique-based tap dances for tap dance classes at BYU (beginning, intermediate and advanced levels). Co-producer for footwork concert with Greg Tucker: “Soundsation! An Evening of Dynamic Percussive Footwork.” Covey Center for the Performing Arts. Clog, Tap, Irish Hardshoe, Welsh and French-Canadian footwork styles. Provo, UT. 2009 to present. Invited Tap Dance Artist for tap workshops and lectures. (Local, national and international) Utah Tap Festival, Tap Fest SLC, Janet Gray Summer Intensive Dance Workshop, BYU Dance Medley Workshop, Center Stage Performing Arts Studio Summer Dance Workshop, Southwest District AAHPERD Conference, Tap Dance Workshop for “World Congress on Dance Research.” Malaga, Spain, “The Art Form and Presentation of Tap Dance.” Lecture presentation at “International Conference on Performing Arts Training Today.” Bovec, Slovenia, “Tap Dance-From Entertainment to an American Art Form.” International Conference on Arts & Humanities. Oahu, Hawaii.Co-Organized and produced a concert for National Tap Dance Day at SLC Rose Wagner Theater, “Footwork: An Evening of Tap Dance.” Post Theatre at Fort Douglas, University of Utah. SLC, UT, “Footwork: An Evening of Percussive Dance.” Leona Wagner Black Box Theatre, Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center. SLC, UT. “Utah Tap Caucus Presents: An Evening of Tap” BYU Tap Dance Workshop Performance, BYU. Participated in 15 professional tap dance workshops in (NYC, L.A.,
Colorado) receiving training from: Steve Condos, Honi Coles, Eddie Brown, Linda Sohl-Ellison, Dianne Walker, Sam Weber, Savion Glover, Chole Arnold, Brenda Buffalino, Lynn Dally, Paul Kennedy, Heather Cornell, LaVaughn Robinson, Van Porter, Fred Strickler, Pauline Hagino, Anita Feldman, Barbara Duffy, Derek Grant, Jeannie Hill, Samuel Jason Smith, Jeffrey Williams, Olivia Rosenkrantz, Germaine Ingram, Terry Brock, Kathie Kramer, Steps Ahead Professional Trio. Director of BYU Rhythm Tap Summer Workshop. 2003-2009. Professional tap artists invited: Linda Sohl-Ellison, Anita Feldman. Utah Representative for International Tap Association 1987-2010. Taught beginning, intermediate and advanced level tap dances at various dance studios in Utah. Choreographed, taught and performed several tap dance pieces for community concerts such as: Make a Wish Foundation, Heber Talent Showcase, The Dicken’s Festival, Festival of Trees, BYU’s Talent Showcase, BYU’s Family Christmas Celebration, Center Stage Performing Arts Dance Studio, half-times at BYU’s basketball games, Youth Awareness Week in Salt Lake City, BYU’s Youth Programs, Spanish Fork Fair Performing Arts Series, and several local elementary schools. Interviewed and performed for a KBYU documentary on “Tap Dance at BYU.” Televised on BYU-TV in South America. Founder, Director, Choreographer and Teacher of “BYU Tap Dance Club.” Received training in the “Al Gilbert Tap Technique” at Allan Cozzubo School of Dance, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Sunny Whiting, POP Faculty (AF)
Sunny Whiting is a local, inspirational, indie-pop singer-songwriter and a graduate of BYU in the Commercial Music Program. She has written/produced many songs, sung on radio stations such as B98.7 and FM 100.3, traveled to Nashville and L.A. for Hollywood artist intensives, collaborated with many different local artists, opened for Ryan Shupe & The Rubber Band for the 2018 Cultural Celebration for the Jordan River Temple, produces through Blomberg Music Productions and distributes her work on music platforms all across the internet. Sunny has taught vocal lessons to 90+ students for the past 6 years and loves using her talents to bless others. Sunny recently wrote a music album for the organization BELIEVE International, which sponsors students in the Philippines to gain an education. She toured to the Philippines in February of 2020 to perform her album in the BELIEVE school assemblies across the Philippines. Find her after to find out how you can donate to the cause. Her family has had Tagalog music go viral into the 25+ millions of views on social platforms and is in the works of releasing multiple Tagalog singles in hopes to further tour the Philippines again in the near future. In need of vocal coaching, sheet music creation, arranging/producing, songwriting, album cover art or dj-ing/gigging? Check out www.sunnygracemusic.com and find her at COPA where she is ecstatic to teach this year!
Danielle Zimmerman, MDT Faculty (AF)
Danielle has been singing for as long as she can remember! When she was little, her family jokes that she sang more than she talked and always welcomed any opportunity to perform for whoever would listen! When she was eight years old, she was a featured soloist for the Steven Kapp Perry fireside, “Come to the House of the Lord,” at the Washington D.C. Temple Visitor’s Center. At the age of nine, she moved to Tokyo, Japan where she started her professional singing career as a featured soloist in various national commercials for companies such as Uniqlo and Biore Skin Care. She also secured a lead role in an English Language DVD series. When she was 10, she performed on stage as a backup vocalist for American country singer Pat Boone at his international concert tour in Tokyo. During high school, Danielle had lead roles in multiple musicals such as Kim McAfee in Bye Bye Birdie, sang in various elite concert choirs, won first place in two community talent shows, and was a featured extra in the Disney Channel original movie High School Musical.
Danielle graduated with a BA in English from Brigham Young University in 2011, while also studying voice and dance on the side. She performed with the Young Ambassadors for two years under the direction of Randy Boothe and was able to travel internationally with them to Australia, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. She continued her recording career as a featured soloist for companies such as LDS Motion Picture Studios and Highway Records and went on to be a featured extra in Disney’s High School Musical 3 as well. She was also invited to perform at the Governor’s Gala in 2011. Lately, her favorite role is that of “mom” to her three children (and one more on the way)! She is so excited to be part of the COPA family and help inspire her students to realize their full potential and become the best they can be!