Katie Higbee, Academy Director Musical Theatre (DPR)
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.
Stacia Barton, Faculty (Draper)
Bio coming soon…
McCall Brainard, Dance Faculty (Draper)
Bio coming soon…
Briana Chipman, MDT Faculty (Draper)
Briana hails from a small town in Wisconsin where she grew up singing and performing from the age of 8. She has taken private voice for over 22 years and loves sharing and teaching music. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Education. She has performed around the Salt Lake valley with theater companies such as Centerpointe Legacy theatre, Kensington Theatre and the Sandy Arts Guild. Some favorite on stage roles include the Sour Kangaroo in Seussical, Crystal (trio) in Little Shop of Horrors, Rosie in Bye Bye Birdie and Penelope in See How They Run. Her favorite role ever is mother to four beautiful children and wife to an amazing husband.
Julie Cordery, Dance Faculty (Draper)
Julie Cordery started dancing at the age of 11. She began dancing because of her twin sister and completely fell in love with the art. She was trained in jazz, ballet, hip hop, and lyrical. She danced on West Jordan High School’s drill team her junior and senior year. She also took theater and film making and enjoyed every minute of it. She got 2nd place on her documentary film that she did about the drill team. In her first year of college, she was a member of the Salt Lake Community College’s dance company. She later received her associates degree of science and moved on to receive her bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah in Behavioral Science and Health. She is now married and has 2 children, a girl and a boy. She has been teaching dance for 10+ years. She has been teaching jazz technique, flexibility, and dance combinations. She has been teaching at Utah Copa for 3 years in their musical dance theater program and loves it. She has choreographed multiple medleys for Utah Copa classes. She has also critiqued and cleaned multiple dance routines to get students ready for competitions. She enjoys teaching and helping performers reach their highest potential.
Melinda DeBirk, MDT Faculty (Draper)
Originally from Orem, Utah, Melinda is a performer and director with extensive theatrical experience in professional, educational, and community settings. She has performed such roles as Cosette in Les Miserables at Tuacahn, Cinderella in the US Premiere of The Slipper and the Rose, Amalia in She Loves Me, Mary and Mary Magdalene in Savior of the World, Mary in Lex deAzevedo’s Gloria, and Lily in The Secret Garden. She has also performed as a soloist in numerous concert productions throughout Utah. She has sung back-up twice for Kristen Chenoweth. She’s spent several summers in the Nauvoo Pageant as a cast member and on the directing team. She has also produced and directed several shows and concerts. Favorite directing credits include Savior of the World at the Conference Center Theater, Dames at Sea at Orem High, and a celebration for the 30th anniversary of the LDS hymn book, which she also wrote. She loved helping to direct a performing group in northern California. Melinda holds a BA in Theater Arts from Brigham Young University, where she did sound design for two shows and toured Australia in 2008 with the BYU Young Ambassadors where she sang on Australian National Radio. Melinda’s voice has been heard on various recordings, video games and TV shows as well as Mary on a new audio drama of the Nativity.
Summer Farnsworth, MDT Faculty (Draper)
Summer Farnsworth was born and raised in Mesa, Arizona but moved up to Utah to study Music Dance Theatre at BYU. At BYU, she had the privilege to be a Young Ambassador and to be in a MainStage production in collaboration with Frank Wildhorn. Summer also loves performing at the Hale theatres in both Orem and Sandy regularly and working in tv/film through her agency TMG. Summer acted in her first feature film the summer after getting her degree from BYU. Since graduating with her BFA in MDT, Summer has begun teaching musical theatre classes with various studios, and has run her own two week musical theatre camps in Arizona. She loves singing, dancing, acting, and working with kids and teens! She is so excited to be a part of the COPA family.
Hannah Hagues, MDT Voice Faculty (Draper)
Bio coming soon…
Elijah Hatch, Dance Faculty (Draper)
Elijah Hatch found his love for dance at the age of nine years old when he began ballroom dance. During that time, he won multiple awards, but it wasn’t until he was almost 15 years old that he was guided to his true passion- ballet. His training began at Ballet West Academy under the direction of Jennie Creer-King. From there, he trained in the Professional Training Division in Salt Lake City. Elijah has had the opportunity to play multiple roles, some highlights have been James Ruben, from the Bournonville ballet, La Sylphide; the Nutcracker Prince, Snow King, as well as the Cavalier. He also found a love for contemporary ballet and creating his own works. Elijah trained for three years with Ballet West Academy. Following that, his training was put on hold for a service mission in England. After returning home, Elijah resumed his training under the direction of Jennie Creer-King and her company “Chrysalis” for a time. Since then, Elijah seeks out new ways to express his artistry, and with presenting more of his own self-created work.
Allyson Fife, Dance Faculty (Draper)
Bio coming soon…
Cilla Harrison, MDT Acting Faculty (Draper)
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.
Lyric Ikeomu, Dance Faculty (Draper)
Lyric Ikeomu is a Junior at Brigham Young University, majoring in dance education, from Seattle Washington. Lyric is a current member of BYU’s SDEO club and has previously been on BYU’s companies Dancensemble, and Kinnect and has been involved in many other dance projects both here at BYU and elsewhere. She is currently in her second year performing as a BYU Young Ambassador. Most recently she had the opportunity to be in the ensemble of Sundance Mountain Theatre’s “Footloose”. She grew up dancing competitively with Allegro Precision Dance Company. Lyric has experience teaching dance to a wide range of ages at a variety of dance studios in her hometown of Seattle and here in Utah. Lyric has a huge passion for creating, performing and anything that puts her on stage.
Jennifer Jenkins, Dance Faculty (Draper)
Jennifer Jenkins grew up studying ballet, jazz, lyrical, and hip hop. She danced on her high school’s drill team & was president her senior year. While receiving her Associates Degree from Salt Lake Community College, she was a member of their dance company. There, she trained in modern. Jennifer has been teaching jazz technique, hip hop, and choreographing hip hop routines for 10+ years. She has had numerous dances place 1st, overall, overall high point, and overall grand champion. she has been recognized & sought out for her hip hop choreography. She has choreographed for multiple studios, high school drill teams, & high school cheer teams. She has a very supportive husband & two daughters. Jennifer is very grateful to be able to do what she loves everyday. She is fulfilled every time she gets the opportunity to teach.
Angi Jones, Dance Faculty (Draper)
Angi’s dance training began in Sandy, Utah with the Academy of Ballet Arts. She was one of the original members of the Mountain West Ballet Company, performing in the Nutcracker and Coppelia. In high school, Angi developed a love for jazz as well, and was a 2 year member of the state championship Hillcrest High School Drill Team. She was head drill mistress her junior year, assisting with the choreography of the routines. Senior year she participated in dance company, choreographing 2 pieces for concert, and was a member of the National Championship Songleading Squad. As a freshman, she was the recipient of a dance talent award to BYU, where she was a Cougarette for one year, and a varsity songleader for 2 years. During her time at BYU, Angi was a dancer for the Miss Utah Pageant, as well as an instructor at the BYU dance/cheer camp. Angi studied health and dance education. Upon graduation, Angi traveled around the state as a camp instructor for several drill teams, cheer squads, and dance companies. She and her husband moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where she helped coach a cheer squad. Since moving back in 2000, she has taught in the Salt Lake Valley. She has taught both competitive companies and recreation classes. Her competitive dances and choreography frequently earned 1st and 2nd places, as well as overall high point awards. She is currently a judge for a local dance competition, and has enjoyed doing that for over 10 years. Angi and her husband have been married for 24 years and have 2 wonderful daughters and really enjoy spending time as a family.
Margaret Leszczynski, Dance Faculty (Draper)
Margaret Leszczynski grew up in Orem, UT studying ballet, jazz and contemporary. She was a member of Ballet Utah for a number of years. Margaret was a Soloist in Classical Ballet works such as Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, The Nutcracker, Paquita, Swan Lake, Snow Queen and more. She has taught dance for 19 years in Utah and Salt Lake Counties. Director of Local companies including ADC where she directed and carried out original works and productions. She has been a tour coordinator and guide for local dance groups and worked as the Event Coordinator for the Utah Dance Film Festival. Margaret loves teaching and seeing her students grow. Margaret currently lives in Orem with her husband and two adorable daughters.
Danielle Nielsen, MDT Voice Faculty (Draper)
Danielle began dancing and performing at an early age and has always felt most at home on the stage. She has trained in all genre of dance under some of Utah’s top teachers, and also trained in private voice with many reputable vocal coaches. Danielle continued her study of dance and theater at BYU. After an introductory class in Speech Pathology, she decided to transfer to the University of Utah, where she received a degree in Speech and Hearing Science. She worked as a Speech Technician in the Alpine School District where she provided therapy for children with voice disorders. Danielle has been cast at theaters across the state including: Hale Centre Theatre, Pioneer Theatre, Tuacahn, The Grand Theatre and various community theatres. She also was a performer at Disneyland and Disney World. Danielle has been a featured vocal soloist or dancer at many Utah venues, the most memorable being: The Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, Sandy City’s 4th of July Concert, The Utah/Moscow Olympic Opening Ceremony, and the 911 Annual Memorial Tribute. Throughout her years as a performer, Danielle has developed a great love of teaching. She has been teaching dance and voice in one form or another since the age of 18. She loves that she is able to continue to be involved in one of her passions, while helping children develop their talents. She especially loves teaching her own children and is grateful for the home they have found at COPA!
Megan Reardon, MDT Voice Faculty (Draper)
Megan made a grand entrance to her professional career at sixteen when she performed in 42nd Street at AMTSJ. That was followed by a scholarship to Brigham Young University for her excellence in musical theater. During this time, Megan was asked to relocate to Florida to perform Belle, in Beauty and the Beast. After two years at Disney she finished her schooling in London and graduated from BYU in the MDT program. During her 20 years of professional experience, Megan has performed throughout the world, recorded with Disney Entertainment, secured a recording contract in NYC with Seismic Records, and singing at Capitol Records with artists like Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Joss Stone and others. Her debut holiday album “Dreams of Christmas” was released in 2013 through LML records. She performs every holiday season with Pasquale Esposito (PBS) as well as Dennis Bono in Las Vegas. Her work in casting includes: Indie film directed by Jon M. Chu (major motion film director)“When the Kids are Away,” Lion King (Broadway tour), Peter Pan (National tour) and Jesus Christ Superstar (National tour), Blue (Pasadena Playhouse). Megan’s work with Julia Flores Casting has greatly increased her skills in both teaching, performing and directing. Megan has been teaching vocal performance for 20 years, ranging from beginners to professionals. Some of her students have found success; on Broadway, Tuachan, record deals, internet sensations, and heavy metal Lead singers. Megan is a member of Actors Equity Association, SAG, AGVA
Jocelyn Robinson, Dance Faculty (Draper)
Jocelyn has been dancing and performing since the young age of 3. Growing up in a performing family she can’t remember a time when she was not performing. She has trained in private voice since 10 years old and has had the honor of working with many reputable vocal coaches. Jocelyn has performed across the country and on many cruise lines including Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines. Jocelyn was a featured dancer and singer in the Salt Lake City Olympics, as well as a soloist for the Utah/Moscow Olympic Opening Ceremonies. She has also been seen in many musical theater production around the Salt Lake Valley. Jocelyn taught voice and dance at Singer’s Unlimited for 10 years, where she helped her students not only in their vocal and dance abilities but how to flourish in their performing skills. Jocelyn has always loved working and being with children and has made that her passion in life. After graduating from the University of Utah in Elementary Education, she taught 5th grade for 5 years and loved every second of it. She loved incorporating music into her teaching and was often found singing and dancing with her students throughout the day. She loves using her talents and abilities to help children find their passions, to learn a new skill and know that they are important and loved. Jocelyn is a mom to her two beautiful daughters, Suzy and Sophie!
Jamie Sarmiento, MDT Faculty (Draper)
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.”