Jodi McMahon-Bergman is the Owner of University Center for the Performing Arts as well as the Founder and Artistic Director of our resident contemporary dance company, ImpulsiK! Jodi is a native Floridian and grew up studying every genre of dance imaginable but she received her advanced training in Los Angeles, California under well renowned choreographers such as Joe Tremaine and Doug Caldwell. Being a former “Tremaine” scholarship winner, she had the opportunity to work with many great choreographers in L.A. Her expertise lies in jazz, contemporary/lyrical and tap. Her students have received top awards in regional and national dance competitions including many cash awards, as well as scholarships to some of the country’s finest training facilities. Many of her students are now currently performing both on and off Broadway, members of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, and members of various professional dance companies throughout the U.S. and abroad. She has worked professionally as a dancer/choreographer in theaters, revues, night club acts, commercials, cruise ships and has served as a judge for various dance organizations. Jodi has an extensive background in the arts as well as business. Having owned and operated her own dance school for many years prior to taking over at the University Center for the Performing Arts, she knows what it takes to operate a fine establishment such as the UCPA! Although she has had extensive experience as a performer, her true passion is teaching and choreographing the wonderful art of dance and passing on to others her knowledge and love of the arts!
Frank Bergman, Co-Owner and Director of UCPA is a veteran of the theater. Frank has been involved in hundreds of productions all over North America. He played the roles of Mr. Kringlien and Mervyn Goldstone in the National Tour of “Gypsy” in addition to numerous other musicals both regionally and nationally. An avid musician as well, Frank was delighted to have the opportunity to pool his talents as a drummer, singer, and actor while playing the role of Jerry Alison in “The Buddy Holly Story” for The St. Lawrence Stage Co in Brockville, Canada. Frank has done numerous commercials including Kentucky Fried Chicken, Burger King, and Pepsi. After receiving his BFA degree in theater performance from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond Virginia, Frank moved back to South Florida where he met his wife, Jodi. After settling down and giving birth to their son, Joseph, the family continued in the performing arts and eventually became fully invested as owners here at UCPA! Since taking over at UCPA, Frank has successfully turned the musical theater program here into first class full scale musicals! Frank is grateful for his family and the opportunity to pass on his knowledge and experience to his students here at UCPA!
Faye Winterholler began dancing at the age of 9 years old in the United Kingdom where she was born and raised. Faye fell in love with dance straight away and went on to excel in competitions and examinations. Faye’s passion for dance earned her a place at the prestigious Laine Theatre Arts in London where she completed a three year intensive dance curriculum. During this time, Faye had the distinct privilege of working with renowned choreographers such as Barbara Evans, Phil Winston and Tudor Davies. Faye holds teacher diplomas and is a member of the Imperial Society of Dance, where she is fully qualified to teach tap, ballet, jazz and modern dance. Throughout her professional career Faye has worked on top rated Welsh TV shows, performed in pantomimes at the Grand Theatre in Swansea, S. Wales, worked with singer/song writer Steve Evans, UK and danced throughout Europe including the largest Casino in the world Casinio Estoril. Faye has been a teacher for 18 years and says without a doubt teaching and choreographing is the pinnacle of her career. Faye is proud to say that she has been able to help students earn places at the Miami City Ballet, New World School of the Arts, and University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
Rossella Lamendola was born in Brooklyn and has spent most of her life in South Florida. She has been performing for over 25 years as a solo artist as well as with her band China Doll in venues and festivals throughout South Florida, California and New Orleans. Rossella has written over 200 songs and has recorded and released several CD’s. Her band China Doll filmed a pilot for a reality show and she also wrote music and lyrics for a musical titled, Unraveling, based on her life. Unraveling had its first public reading at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in 2012. In June of 2017, there was an industry reading of “Unraveling” on the West End in London and two songs from that musical were nominated for the Stiles & Drewe Award for two consecutive years! Rossella has been teaching voice, performance technique, guitar and piano at UCPA since 2009. She still performs in clubs throughout South Florida and encourages her students to perform as well.
Gilda Pianelli has been involved in the entertainment industry since 1977. Ms. Pianelli is an internationally renowned acting coach and director of the University Center’s theater/film department. She has trained actors, both children and adults, at the Center since 1984. Along with her teaching accomplishments, Ms. Pianelli maintains a high profile as a successful director of theatre/film (www.ambassadorpictures.com) as well as lighting designer for professional dance companies. Her lighting designs have been seen all over the world while touring with the highly acclaimed “Body and Soul Dance Theatre” (1982-1992). Currently she is the exclusive lighting designer for the distinguished flamenco company “Bailes Ferrer”. Ms. Pianelli’s acting students have, and continue, to grace the professional mediums of film, television and theater from Los Angeles to Broadway. Ms. Pianelli is a protégé of Mr. Eric Morris. (www.ericmorris.com).
Elaine Almonte was born in Dominican Republic where she began her theatrical training at the age of 9 at Centro de la Cultura in Santiago, Dominican Republic. She continued her education at Palacio de Bellas Artes de Santiago where she spent five years growing as a young actress. Elaine is a graduate of the Instituto de Cultura y Arte (ICA) in Santiago, Dominican Republic, where she received a BA degree in Dramatic Arts. Victor Checo, Iván Garcia, Claudio Rivera, and Verónica López are some of the master directors she had the opportunity to work with. After moving to the United States she found the University Center for the Performing Arts where she studied the Eric Morris technique with Gilda Pianelli, and she has been teaching acting technique to our student ages 3-17 ever since. Elaine also serves as UCPA’s Camp Director for the last several years running our summer camps and directing camp musicals.
Vindhya Khare is the Director of the Music Department of the University Center for the Performing Arts in Davie and is an adjunct Professor of Voice at Florida International University in Miami. As a soprano, the Miami Herald describes her voice as “rich, agile…[and] radiant.” She has been awarded the title roles in Agrippina (Handel), and Jackie O (Daugherty), Mrs. Grose in Britten’s Turn of the Screw, as well as Savitri by Gustav Holst. She has also sung with Palm Beach Opera, is a soprano soloist at Plymouth Congregational Church in Coral Gables and appears in concert events throughout South Florida. As an accomplished pianist and voice coach, Vindhya was Principal Pianist/Voice Coach and Associate Chorus Master at Palm Beach Opera under the baton of the late Maestro Anton Guadagno. She has worked as a pianist for the Sherrill Milnes Voice Studio in Savannah, GA and has performed as a singer in the Savannah Voice Festival. She is also the Music Director and pianist for the opera concert series at Opera Benvenuto in Boynton Beach. She is the past President of The Paul L. Rodensky Foundation for the Arts, a non-profit organization committed to promoting arts education and presenting concert events. Vindhya is pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Vocal Pedagogy and Performance at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. She holds a Master of Music degree in vocal performance from Florida International University and her undergraduate degree in piano performance from California State University, Northridge.
Barbara Sloan is a veteran of both the dance and acting stage. After an extensive career in dance, Barbara turned her talents towards the theater stage. She is an award winning actor that has appeared in more than 30 plays and is a five time Carbonell Nominee for Best Actress in a Drama. You may also have seen her in various television commercials and in the docudrama “Adrift” on the Discovery Channel. Other recent projects include working with her partner, Richard Brookens, on two performance art pieces commissioned by the Miami Light Project and as a guest theater teacher in high schools throughout Miami.
Seth Gordon is a professional entertainer who was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is an active performer, a professional dancer, choreographer, and aspiring actor who specializes in all aspects of hip hop dance. Seth has danced for several recording artists such as T-Vice, Jenna Drey, Don Philip, The Alex Bradd’n Project, Ciara, and Sean Kingston to name a few. He also appeared in several local, regional and national commercials, PSA’s, and music videos. Some credits include, Toyota, Casino Rama, Nike, Throat Cooler, Burger King, Winn Dixie, Mountain Dew, Royal Caribbean, and more!
Lisa Thomas Emrekovic is a former Alvin Ailey trained dancer and she has trained in Ballet, Horton, Graham, Jazz and Contemporary techniques as well as some Broadway styles. She has experience staging singers, choreographing and mentoring artists. She was in charge of scheduling productions, production teams, theater schedules, singers, dancers and actors for Royal Caribbean as well as working well on many different types of teams. She is an energetic artist who enjoys teaching performers and inspiring them by sharing her passion for dance. She is skilled in many techniques and is always a versatile and flexible team player. Being a world traveled dancer, she has a large repertoire of dancing to utilize and is very dedicated to the craft!
Claudine Carter Pereira began dancing at the age of three, in Freeport, Bahamas, where she was born and raised, acquiring a strong foundation and love for dance. From the age of nine through most of her teen years, she studied extensively with the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City in their Trainee Program. Claudine put her dance career on the “back-burner” to pursue a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology from Loyola College in Maryland and later a Master of Science Degree in Forensic Science from Virginia Commonwealth University. Despite her change in career path, she continued dancing throughout graduate school at both Virginia Commonwealth University and Richmond Ballet. She has taught Ballet, Modern (Horton Technique), Jazz and Tap to various age groups ranging from ages three to adult in the Bahamas, Virginia, Maryland, and Florida.
During her time here in Florida, Claudine performed as a soloist with the South Broward Ballet Company (in Hollywood) in various performances including Don Quixote, Nutcracker, Peter & the Wolf, Sleeping Beauty and the principal role in Cinderella. From February of 2003 – October 2009, Claudine performed with and was the Assistant Artistic Director of Jubilee Dance Theatre (a South Florida based company). Claudine continues to make several guest artist appearances with various local dance companies and organizations including, the Pablo Malco Foundation, the University Center for the Performing Arts, and others. She is also a member of the Florida Dance Association and a (certified) member in the area of “Performing Arts (Ballet)” with Dance Educators of America.
Susan Z. Lewis, a native New Yorker, moved to South Florida at the age of 10, and was raised in Miami. After spending most of her adult professional life in the corporate world, Susan returned to school to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Interior Architecture and Design from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. She would eventually go on to open her own business, Suzalu Design Studio, specializing in Event Planning & Design. While still attending school, Susan interned with an Interior Design Instructor at the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale, at which time the seeds of her love of teaching were planted. Currently the Director of the Arts Alive After-School Program at UCPA, she became involved with Arts Alive shortly after its inception, jumping at the chance to work with children. Arts and Crafts on Fridays would eventually evolve into the first Art & Design Class offered at UCPA; developed and taught by Susan. She is also UCPA’s “resident artist”, offering artistic services and design consultation on props and set design for many of UCPA’s shows. A life-long lover of the arts, Susan strongly believes in the power of art and creativity to inspire self-expression and nurture a sense of empowerment.
Renee Boyle has grown up dancing. Starting at the age of 5, she was trained locally in South Florida. Renee has attended Florida Dance Masters intensive teaching workshops, Kinderdance Early Childhood workshops, Teacher conventions with choreographers from New York and L.A.; as well as taken classes in New York at the Broadway Dance Center. Renee has performed in Superbowl XXIII, and Superbowl XLI. She has performed with local production companies including Ener-Gee Dance Productions, Platinum Gold Productions, and Pembroke Pines Theater of the Performing Arts. She received her B.A. from FAU in Elementary Education with a minor in early childhood. She was a teacher for the School Board of Broward County for seven years and is now an active volunteer at the schools and in the community. Renee has been teaching dance since the age of 16, and was the co-owner/director of Lu-Na Dance Studio for eight years. Besides teaching at her own studio she has taught at A Place To Dance, Studio 61, The Studio Dance, and is now thrilled to be teaching at University Center for the Performing Arts.
Shara Kiddy is a former Miami HEAT Dancer with extensive training in all genres of dance, specializing in Hip Hop and Jazz Funk. She was nominated & voted dance captain in her 2nd year as a HEAT Dancer. In addition to performing at hundreds of Miami HEAT’s home games, she was also 1 of 6 dancers selected for travel to the Philippines & Thailand as a part of the NBA Asia Challenges in 2010 & 2011. Shara has continued her career with the Miami HEAT as a choreographer for the past 7 years. In addition to her continued career with the Miami HEAT, she was also a director of a dance performance company for the past 5 years that has performed at a number of events for the Miami HEAT, Miami Dolphins, Florida Panthers, and Miami Marlins, Disney, and Universal Studios. She has also taught musical theatre, lyrical, ballet, and tap for the past 12 years to students from ages 2.5-18. She also choreographed for the 2017 Choreographer’s Ball. Shara is very passionate about sharing her love for the arts and is very grateful for the opportunity to work with all of the talented dancers and performers at University Center of Performing Arts this summer as well as in the fall.
Marisol Ibanez, a native of Chile, started her musical and pianistic career at a very early age at the Rudolf Steiner Academy in Santiago, Chile. It was there that she received training in the rudamentary aspects of music and piano technique before continuing her advanced studies at the Conservatory of the Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso, Chile. Under the formidable instruction of Professor Maria Angelica Belaustegui, Marisol readily advanced in her studies while acquiring extensive experience in solo as well as chamber music recitals. In addition, she was making a name for herself as a pedagogue at the Taller de Artes of Ana Maria Mantellero. More recently, Marisol has studied with renown Ukrainian pianist, Professor Lilia Zaiarna, head of the piano department at the New World School of the Arts in Miami. At present, Marisol maintains a following of students in the Miami area and at the University Center for the Performing Arts in Davie.
Bryant Caprirolo was born in Miami, Florida and grew up with the rich culture Miami is so well known for. Jazz, Contemporary and Hip Hop Dance is his passion and he loves teaching as UCPA as well as dancing with UCPA’s Resident Dance Company, Impulsik under the artistic direction of Jodi McMahon-Bergman. He has been studying under Jodi consistently for the several years among others and is looking forward to continuing his studies at UCPA and ImpulsiK. Bryant recently performed in the professional new musical, “Performing Arts Politics” at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, as well as at the UCPA. The show was written and produced by Pablo Malco, Directed by Frank Bergman, and choreographed by Jodi McMahon-Bergman and Charles Williams. His signature contemporary, jazz and hip hop style and passion has given him unique recognition in the dance world. Bryant was previously featured at the Duncan Theater in a piece set by Body Traffic. Bryant has also trained with Gilda Pianelli and Barbara Sloan for acting and physical theater. He is the happiest when he is dancing and/or acting and he is so thankful to live his life as an artist. Without it he would not be who he is today.
Missy Williams has been dancing since the age of three. She has been trained in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, lyrical, and contemporary right here in south Florida before going off to college in New York to study dance. She can be seen across South Florida doing what she loves, both teaching and performing! Growing up with a passion for Broadway, her favorite production is “Movin’ Out”. Her most memorable performances are Cinderella, when she danced the part of Cinderella’s stepsister, and “The Lion King”. Missy is an energetic girl who’s grace and balletic nature grace the stage she adores so much! Missy is also a veteran member of our Resident Dance Company, ImpulsiK and can be seen often performing professionally with the company throughout South Florida and here at home at UCPA!
Brettnie Blake is one of South Florida’s hottest performer/choreographers and is happy to be teaching Adult Hip Hop at UCPA! Her variety in styles is vast including Dancehall, Hip Hop, and Jazz/Funk. She has loads of professional experience in the industry including performances with Jazze Pha, Mya Pitbull, Daddy Yankee, Kymani Marley, Christina Milan, Sean Paul and Choreographer for Miss Jamaica Florida, Charlie Black, Nyanda! Brettnie has been awarded numerous choreography awards including Most entertaining routine in various dance competitions!