Kristen Nyhoff, Co-Artistic Director for Petite Company and Recreational Program, Kristen Nyhoff was born and raised in Twin Falls, Idaho. She started dancing at age 4 at her local hometown dance studio and hasn’t stopped since! She spent years of her childhood and youth performing, as well as competing, across the country. As a freshman in high school she continued her growth by becoming an assistant teacher at the studio she grew up in – focusing primarily on tap, jazz and lyrical. It was then that she realized she had a passion for sharing her knowledge with others, and more specifically, children and youth. She decided to continue her training with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance Performance and Choreography at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. During her time at Hope she studied Jazz, Tap, Ballet, Lyrical, Modern, Contemporary, Improvisation and Dance Therapy. She also took advantage of an opportunity to attend the Joffrey Jazz and Contemporary summer intensive in New York City. In addition to performing for the company Dance Project, she concluded her degree by receiving the DeLong Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance from the college faculty. After graduating in 2011, Kristen married her husband Ben and has been able to share her passion of dance across the country in California, Colorado, and now Michigan. She is excited to help others reach their goals and continue to share her passion at West Michigan Dance Center.
Erica Wilkinson, born in Indianapolis, IN where she started dancing at the age of 5. She began competing a few yearslater and was part of many award winning dance numbers in both Regional and National competitions. As a member of a competitive team Erica was able to participate in productions that included Sesame Street Live, The Indianapolis 500 parade, and Colts halftime shows. After studying for a year at Marymount of Manhattan Erica transferred to Indiana University where she was the Captain of the IU Redsteppers and choreographer for the student run dance team, In-Motion. She was also a dancer and choreographer for the annual university show, IU SING. Erica graduated with a Bachelors’ in Communication and a Masters in Social Work.
Erica has been teaching classes in Jazz, Tap, Lyrical, and Musical Theatre since she was a freshman in high school for both recreational and competition dancers. Sharing her love of performance has been a huge source of joy for Erica and she is thrilled to be back in the studio with the great team at West Michigan Dance Center.
Stephanie Copeman, Artistic Director, started teaching at Piazza Dance Company in 2002, at the age of 17 and she has not stopped teaching since. She began her dance training at age three at Joan Malone Dance Center in Saginaw, MI and was later able to train at Miss Harriett’s Dance Center in Livonia, MI and Piazza Dance Company in Northville, MI. Stephanie has a teaching background is ballet, jazz, lyrical, musical theatre and tap. Stephanie has studied ballet, jazz, lyrical, modern, musical theatre, pointe and tap. Over the years several of her solos, duets, and groups won several high point awards and national championships.
During high school, Stephanie auditioned and was accepted into the Creative and Performing Arts program (CAPA) at Churchill High School. In the program she was able to audition and participate in several musicals such as Les Miserable and West Side Story. She choreographed several pieces for the dance concerts during her years in the CAPA program. Additionally, she was the student choreographer on Brigadoon and A Chorus Line. Stephanie holds her Bachelor of Arts from Western Michigan University and Master of Business Administration degree from Spring Arbor University. She is currently on staff at West Michigan Dance Center and looks forward to sharing her love of dance and performance with her students.
Traci Soule, attended the University of Missouri-Columbia where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She then worked for several years at the Judevine Center for Autism before receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri. She has been teaching dance for 20 years in the St. Louis market at various dance academies and the last 3 years in private studios and schools in Kalamazoo, MI. She is a teaching artist with Education for the Arts and has the pleasure of teaching dance residencies and workshops for over 400 K-12 and special needs students in schools throughout Kalamazoo County.
She is an Aesthetic Education teaching artist and has completed the Education for the Arts Advanced Aesthetic Education Institute. In addition to aesthetic education, Traci works for the Alternative Arts Initiative which brings dance residencies to students with special needs. As a certified instructor of Rhythm Works Integrative Dance, she is specially trained to meet the needs of dancers with sensory processing delays, Down Syndrome and Autism. She is a member of the New Movement Project which provides movement workshops to dancers that are deaf or hard of hearing. She is excited to continue her American Sign Language classes this spring.
Traci has choreographed for local St. Louis dance company Beyond Motion, theater companies, musicals and various industrials. She is a member of the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, National Dance Education Organization, Western Michigan University Partners in Dance and a 2016 recipient of the Education for the Arts Professional Artistic Development Grant as well as the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo Artistic Development Initiative Grant. This summer she will be attending the Cecchetti Council of America’s International Teacher’s Seminar at Hope College. Traci and her husband, Jeremy, relocated from St. Louis and are excited to be in Kalamazoo. In her free time, Traci enjoys reading, biking, hiking and hanging out with her cats.
Megan Nienhuis, Owner, attended Western Michigan University where she earned a bachelors degree in Nursing. While attending WMU she was part of the cheerleading team for four years. After graduating she pursued her nursing career at Bronson Methodist Hospital while starting a family. Megan was the Assistant Coach for the Western Michigan University Cheerleading Team from 2009-2014. During that time she also became a certified Les Mills fitness instructor and currently teaches BodyPump and BodyAttack at Phoenix Fitness. Megan has been a part of WMDC since 2008 and has been teaching acro classes for the last four years. The future of West Michigan Dance Center is nothing less than progressive, she is enthusiastic to continue to strengthen the company and the dancers within.
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