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!
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.
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).
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.
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 spend 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 young student ages 3-17.
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!
Roy Cordova, originally from Brooklyn, NY moved to Miami, FL at the age of nine. But never left his Brooklyn roots. He is inspired by East Coast music such as hip-hop and R&B. He started dancing using this style of music as a motivation. Trained and taught in ‘Studio 12’ since 2005. He also trained with ‘Movement Lifestyle’ and our own Seth Gordon in University Center for the Performing Arts. Roy started as a professional backup dancer with two Christian bands: SoulFire Revolution & Generation 12 and has appeared in both of their music videos’. Roy has taught several dance workshops around the U.S. and also outside the United States: Boston,MA, Riverside, CA, Miami,FL & Bogota, Colombia to name a few. He also taught two workshops at International School of Broward and is currently teaching at Kirova Ballet Academy. Roy’s dream is to see his students push themselves in ways they never thought they could through dance!
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. 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.
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!
Michelle Brenes was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. She began dancing at the age of 3 and has trained in jazz, tap, lyrical, ballet, and tumbling. She was a member of the Debby Dillehay Dance Troupe and Competition Team and also a member of her high school’s dance team, the Dominican Debs. While attending Loyola University New Orleans, she was a member of the Loyola Ballet and trained under Laura Zambrano and Gayle Parmalee in the Vaganova syllabus. With the Loyola Ballet, she performed in several classical, character, and contemporary works. During her time at Loyola, she also taught Floor Gymnastics at the Debby Dillehay Dance Studio. In May 2012, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Dance. After graduation, she moved to Orlando FL where she attended Orlando Circus School and trained in aerial silks, trampoline, and tumble track. She also performed in Orlando Circus School’s summer showcase in June 2013. Michelle is currently a graduate student at Nova Southeastern University pursuing her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology.
Agatha Wright is a contemporary instructor and dancer. She has trained extensively in the genres of ballet, modern, and jazz with an array of accomplished professionals such as: Stephanie Powell from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Sofia Carreras; a pupil of George Balanchine and Alonzo King, infamous contemporary jazz choreographer and Tony award winner Tiffany Billings, and Miami icon, Roberto Dias. Agatha has received the Dramatic Allied Arts Guild scholarship for most talented dancer in LA in 2007 and graduated from the University of California, Riverside with a degree in Art History and emphasis in Performance Art in 2010. Her talents exceed beyond the dance studio and Mrs. Wright has also held positions as Financial Coordinator for In Motion Performing Arts Center and Dance Department Director of Operations at University Center for the Performing Arts.
As a performer Agatha has danced for several companies in Los Angeles to include Intersect Dance Theater, Tiffany Billings Dance Co. and Tongue. She has also danced and performed with Brazarte Dance Company and UCPA’s resident contemporary company, Impulsik. Currently she Co-Directs and assists Jodi McMahon, Impulsik company Director as guest choreographer. She also collaborates with the Kravis Center’s, The Dancers Space and the Duncan Theater in West Palm Beach as guest artist and choreographer. She is the founder of the West2East Contemporary Co-Op; a project based company which emphasizes artistic exchange between artists located both in the West and East Coast. She is the creator of the South Florida Contemporary Concert Series. A dance concert that has brought together some of South Florida’s most established and emerging dance companies and choreographers!
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.
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.
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.