COCA Alumni

Amy AllenAmy Allen, is currently in the national tour of the musical Wicked. She has performed at the Merce Cunningham Studios and Broadway Dance Center with Tracie Stanfield's company Synthesis Dance Project, completed an internship with Paul Taylor Dance Company and appeared in La Cage aux Folles at STAGES. Allen trained at COCA and received a B.A. in dance from Loyola Marymount University where she worked with Hinton Battle, Jason Myhre and Grover Dale.

Hettie Vyrine BarnhillHettie Vyrine Barnhill currently with DDO Commercial Agency, premiered her newest work Green Grass at the Solar One Festival and Lincoln Center Out of Doors in 2007. She has received many awards including The Weismann Grant for her choreography for Home Grown. Performance credits include La Cage aux Folles (Arvada Center for the Arts), Guys and Dolls (The Black Rep), Vagina Monologues (Park West Theatre) and Aida, Guys and Dolls and Camelot (The Muny). Barnhill is a graduate of Columbia College (Chicago), where she received her B.F.A. with a double major in dance and marketing.

Betsy CapesBetsy Capes is President & Head Coach of Capes Coaching, Inc. After six successful years in casting with a variety of Broadway and Off-Broadway theatre companies, including Manhattan Theatre Club, The Public Theater, Binder Casting and the Roundabout Theatre Company, Capes realized it was time to bring her casting perspective into the coaching room. She has coached over 500 actors, many of whom work on Broadway, in television and in feature films. She is a member of the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

Jodie CapesJodie Capes is the Executive Director of Capes Coaching, a company she co-founded in April 2004. She has worked as a personal assistant to actors J. Smith Cameron and Molly Shannon. Capes began her B.F.A. studies at the University of Illinois and graduated from the Gallatin School at NYU, where her focus was Drama Therapy. She is an alumna of Stagedoor Manor as well as the drama programs at Northwestern University, Syracuse University, and COCA.

Joanna Dee DasJoanna Dee Das is currently a PhD candidate in History at Columbia University, where she is working on a dissertation on the choreographer, activist, and intellectual Katherine Dunham. Joanna has her MA in American Studies from NYU and her BA in dance and history from Columbia. She was a member of COCADance for six years, and in New York performed with Tze Chun Dance Company from 2006-2009. She has presented her choreography at DanceNow/NYC, WaxWorks, and the Merce Cunningham Studio. She looks forward to furthering the field of dance history.

Sara DobbsSara Dobbs is touring Asia and Europe in Sundance Productions’ West Side Story. A former tap, jazz, and ballet student at COCA and at Broadway Dance Center, Dobbs obtained a B.A. in acting from Indiana University. Stage credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the American Globe Theatre, Crazy for You at the Palace Theatre, and Sarah in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at The Muny.

Antonio DouthitAntonio Douthit joined Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 2004 and has toured throughout the U.S. and abroad. He has also performed with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal and trained at COCA and at Alexandra Ballet. Douhtit received scholarships to attend summer residencies with San Francisco Ballet, Joffrey Ballet School, and Arthur Mitchell’s Dance Theatre of Harlem. After a year on full scholarship at North Carolina School for the Arts, he became a member of Dance Theatre of Harlem where he was promoted to soloist in 2003.
Learn more below in "Alumni in the news".

Lesley GarrisonLesley Garrison grew up in Swansea, Illinois and received her early dance training at COCA and Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Michigan. She studied at the Rotterdamse Dansacademie in Rotterdam, Nederland and holds a B.F.A. from the State University of New York at Purchase, receiving the Modern Dance Faculty Award. She has performed with Erica Essner, Dance Heginbotham, the Kevin Wynn Collection, Neel Verdoorn, Nelly Van Bommel's NOA Dance, Rocha Dance Theater and Sidra Bell Dance New York. She first performed with MMDG in 2007 and became a company member in 2011. Lesley teaches at The School at The Mark Morris Dance Center and for the Dance for Parkinson's Disease program.

Rodney HamiltonRodney Hamilton, COCA’s first scholarship student, is in his fifth season with Ballet Hispanico in New York. He began his training at the age of 10 at Carr Lane Visual and Performing Arts School, Alexandra School of Ballet, and with Katherine Dunham. In 1996, at the age of 15, he joined the adult chorus at The Muny. Hamilton is a graduate of the Juilliard School.

Chavo KilllingsworthChavo Killlingsworth is a member of Houston Ballet’s corps de ballet. He began his training at COCA and at the Alexandra School of Ballet. Killingsworth attended the School of American Ballet in New York after which he joined the Richmond Ballet where he danced lead roles choreographed by George Balanchine and Jessica Lang. Killingsworth has been a featured performer in several world premieres.

McCollum, LakeishaLakeisha McCollum is a member of Cecil Slaughter's dance company in residence at COCA, and performed in Dance St. Louis' Contemporary Moves last May. She teaches for COCA's Urban Arts Program. McCollum has been dancing for 20 years and has studied jazz, hip-hop, tap, ballet, African, pointe and modern. She joined COCAdance at age 14, and studied at Webster University with Gary Hubler for three years. McCollum has studied under Frank Chaves of RiverNorth Dance Company Intensive, Lee Nolting, Clyde Evans and Michael Taylor of Gus Giordano.

Jamie McKittrickJamie McKittrick is on the national tour of Cinderella with the Enchantment Theatre Company. She has worked in theatre with Devon Allen, Shelly Oliver, Charles Anderson, Kim Maniscalco, Susan Creitz, among others. McKittrick earned a B.A. in theatre from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.

Brian MooreBrian Moore is a dance instructor, teaching at COCA and through the community outreach program, Urban Arts, where, at the age of eight, he began his dance training. He later became a member of COCAdance. Moore also trained at Jacob's Pillow, Perry-Mansfield, Juilliard Summer Intensive, Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Alexandra Ballet School, where he was a company member. Moore is a recent graduate of SUNY-Purchase with a degree in dance performance.

Erin Moore Erin Moore is a freelance dancer, training with Koresh Dance Company in Philadelphia. Previously, she danced with Phildanco. She began her dance training at COCA, where she studied ballet, tap, and jazz dance. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a political science major but, after an inspiring summer at the Perry Mansfield Performing Arts Camp under the direction of Linda Kent, she decided to pursue a career in dance. Moore transferred to the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. program and graduated in May 2006 in dance with a minor in political science.

Leah MorrisonLeah Morrison after graduating from the Conservatory of Dance at SUNY-Purchase, joined the Trisha Brown Dance Company in 2005. Upon Trisha Brown's retirement in 2008, the "genius" award recipient and avant-garde dance movement leader turned over her well-known solo work "If You Couldn't See Me" to Morrison. Robert Rauschenberg designed the costume and the sound score for this work that has been described by Anna Kisselgoff of the New York Times as "exceptional purity." In addition to dancing with the Trisha Brown Dance Company, Morrison continues to develop her own choreography and present work in small New York City venues. In 2008 she was announced as a Princess Grace Foundation-USA award recipient for her work in modern dance.

Jenny ShoreJenny Shore was a founding member of COCAdance. She is now an up and coming Chicago choreographer, having created dances for The Other Dance Festival, Northwestern University, Evanston Dance Ensemble, TJ&Co, Dance Chicago, the American College Dance Festival, and her own dance company Raizel Performances, which she founded in the summer of 2004. The Chicago Reader called her recent The Piners Prom as "a winning event...infused with exuberance." In addition to performing and choreographing, Jenny is also on faculty at Dance Center Evanston and teaches in the Evanston Dance Ensemble Outreach program. Upcoming choreography projects include a music video for pop band Zox, and a collaboration with Will Butler of the rock band Arcade Fire.

James SmithJames Smith recently finished performing in Tarzan on Broadway. Smith was also the assistant choreographer for the motion picture Hair Show and Barry Manilow's Stiletto Entertainment doing Ultimate Broadway for the Holland America Cruise Line. He has performed in Saturday Night Fever on Broadway, and was a part of the first national touring company. Smith was an original member of COCAdance in 1992 before leaving St. Louis to attend Boston Conservatory and the Boston Ballet on full scholarship.

COCA Alumni in the News

Leah Morrison
The New York Times "Graceful Movements in a Fog, or Just an Illusion" (April 9, 2010).

Hettie Barnhill
St. Louis Post-Dispatch "Dancer takes big step from Muny to Broadway" (January 24, 2010).

Antonio Douthit
View the Antonio Douthit Story: I am a Dancer

View the KETC feature on COCA alum Antonio Douthit.

Antonio Douthit and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in reviews.
Le Figaro "La saga de l'Alvin Ailey Dance Theater" (July. 9, 2009).
New York Times "The Lure of Addictions and the Mysterious Transmigration of Red" (Jan. 1, 2008).
Wall Street Journal "Two Modern Dance Revivals" (Dec. 27, 2007).
New York Times "A Salute, Ailey Style, for a Star’s 25th Year" (December 19, 2006).

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