COCA Pre-Professional Division PPD Dancers

Meet COCA’s Pre-Professional Division Dance Seniors

COCA’s Pre-Professional Division dance seniors are getting ready to take the stage with our student dance companies for TRIumphant, May 6–9. Virtual and limited in-person tickets are available.

Our graduating seniors’ final solo performances will be featured during the1:00PM and 5:00PM performances on Sunday, May 9.

COCA’s 2021 Dance Seniors:

Anaya Tyehimba

“The instructors here welcomed me with open arms. Every teacher I ever had poured their all into me and made sure I was improving in their class. Being a student at COCA has taught me how to be myself unapologetically. Not only did I gain confidence at COCA I also gained a family.”

Southern University A&M College, Majoring in Psychology with a minor in Education

Emmie Taul

“Nervous and strolling into a completely new environment, I found myself surrounded by dancers whom I had only seen and admired on social media. Instantly, I was welcomed with open arms, and now, I have found friends who never cease to inspire me and will always cherish. At COCA, I discovered confidence within myself that I didn’t know could be channeled just three years ago. Dancing at COCA has caused me to grow not only in confidence but as a person surrounded by incredible people.”

DePaul University, Majoring in Political Science

Keli Charles Thomas

“I would like to thank COCA for providing me with amazing opportunities and a place I can call home. Thank you to Ms. Jen, Ms. Ellen, Ms. Sam, and many others who provided me with criticism, laughter, and resilience. Thank you to my friends yaya, sensa, and many more who have provided me with jokes that will last forever, friendships that will last a lifetime, and courage that will take me far. Thank you to Kirven and Antonio who never gave up on me even when I gave up on myself numerous times. I would never be where I am today without you both.”

Ailey/Fordham, studying dance and environmental science

Kortney Moten

“COCA is an amazing establishment and will always be by second home. I would like to start off by saying thank you Anthony “Redd” Williams and Jasmine Spencer for always pushing me to want more for myself and to never allow myself to get complacent. To own who I am as a person and leave it all out on the dance floor. To believe in my abilities as a dancer and under no circumstances stop working hard. You two have taught me so many valuable lessons and impacted me in ways that I will forever be grateful for.”

University of Arkansas, studying in pre-medical field

Miles Ashe

“I had no idea the profound impact COCA would have on my life. Over the past seven years, I have grown up in the halls and studios of COCA. The outstanding arts training and the lifelong relationships I have gained from my time here, have inspired me and prepared me for life as a college student and beyond. My time as a pre-professional student has come to an end but the love and support from my COCA family will be in my heart forever.”

The Juilliard School in New York City, majoring in dance

Ronan Ryan

“Even amidst the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was still able to find my way through dance with the help of COCA my senior year. With the help of Mr. Antonio and Kirven Douthit-Boyd, Ms. Jennifer Welch Cudnik, Ms. Sam Gaitsch and all my other dance instructors, I have been able to record dance material to submit for college auditions, and feel as though dance, specifically ballet, is the route meant for me.”

Point Park University, BFA in Ballet

SenSa Maasera

“COCA’s pre-professional company has provided me with so much exposure and experience to many different dance styles and choreographers, who have inspired me to continue dancing professionally in the future…I am so thankful for all of my teachers for shaping me into the dancer I am today. I want to especially thank Kirven and Antonio for everything they have done for me…Both of you have always pushed me to be a better dancer and made my experience at COCA the most fulfilling and valuable time of my life, and for that I am forever grateful…I am eternally grateful for COCA, and blessed I got the opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful community and family.”

Boston Conservatory at Berklee, Majoring in Contemporary Dance

Sophia Sprague

“Becoming a student at COCA is something I will never regret. Being here I have blossomed not only as an artist but as a person. I am so fortunate to have been able to be trained and surrounded by such phenomenal people. I wouldn’t be who I am today without Anthony “Redd” Williams and Jasmine Spencer. You both continuously pushed and guided me to become a disciplined, versatile, and strong person and dancer.”

St. Charles Community College for a year, then transferring to study Criminology