Studio J Staff
Owner/Director, Meredith Powell has been sharing her gift of dance with the Edmond community since 2002. Prior to that, she has taught dance at St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee, OK, and Pam’s Academy of Dance in McAlester, OK. In addition, Meredith has taught master’s classes for various studios and has coached both junior varsity and varsity high school pom squads.
Meredith began her dance career in McAlester, OK in 1982 under the tutelage of Pam Davy of Pam’s Academy of Dance and Tony Deel. She continued her dance training at St. Gregory’s University under the instruction of Meghan Prior, Noel Parenti, and Erin Robbins Farmer. Meredith graduated in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science degree in business and with an area of specialization in dance. She continues her education today by attending workshops and classes offered by dance professionals from New York, Los Angeles and Oklahoma.
Meredith is a member of the National Dance Educators Organization and IDEA (International Dance Entrepreuners Association). She has also been recently certified to teach Progressing Ballet and she is beyond excited to be a Certified Rhythms Works Integrated Instructor. Meredith is also a leadership consultant for Elite Leaders.
1Peter 4:10 (NIV) states, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” Meredith is humbled by God’s call on her life to share His love through dance, all for His glory and the furtherance of His Kingdom. She gratefully acknowledges her wonderful family for their love and support.
Company Director/Teacher, HILARY MCALISTER was born and raised in Oklahoma City where she fell in love with dance and knew from an early age she was created to move. She began teaching and choreographing at the young age of 14 under the guidance of CeCe Farha who was able to pin point Hilary’s gifting early on. She attended the University of Central Oklahoma as a dance major on scholarship and continued her training at a summer intensive at Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway and was recently certified to teach Progressing Ballet Technique.
Hilary is the COO and Co-Founder of Soul de Soul Dance Convention where she also teaches on faculty. She is the Artistic Director and Creator of Oklahoma based contemporary dance company MERAKI. Hilary is Co-Director and developer of PRO a preprofessional program where she also teaches on faculty. Hilary currently resides in Edmond, Oklahoma where she teaches full time at Studio J School of Dance and is the Artistic Director of the Studio J Company. Hilary recently became the choreographer for the upcoming girl group OK3 and had the privilege in choreographing their first music video.
Hilary’s ability to create a safe and honest learning environment along with her gift to tell a clear story through movement has her master classes and choreography highly sought after throughout the Mid-West, NYC, Disney and has been invited as a guest faculty on many intensives such as You Gotta Dance. Hilary’s unique choreography has been recognized countless times both regionally and nationally. What she is offering the dance community has been featured in articles such as PURE Magazine and Mom’s New Stage. Hilary’s ability to teach and prepare students to pursue a successful dance career has lead her students to: Joffrey New York, AMDA LA, OCU (American Dance Company), UCO (Kaleidoscope Dance Department).
Hilary knows that dance is the rhythm every person is born with; therefore, people dance alone, dance with, and or dance for something. The experience, feel, and emotion of dance, is what drives Hilary to express her heart through dance. With this understanding, Hilary hopes to touch, inspire, move, and encourage not only the dancers but the audience as well. She believes dance is the language of the soul, which can move us to feel and experience something greater than ourselves and she feels blessed to be able to contribute to our world with something as beautiful as dance.
Office Manager, Dianne LaGuardia (AKA Miss D), has been on staff at Studio J for 15 years. She, her husband Mark, and three children moved to Oklahoma from New York in 2002. Having a daughter in dance, she immediately became an active part of the Oklahoma dance community through Studio J.
Dianne graduated from SUNY Cortland in 1993 with a BA in Sociology/Criminology. She has nine years of retail customer service experience, but her life’s work has been primarily in the field of child development, starting as a lactation specialist and parenting coach, and then owning a home day care. She worked as the Children’s Pastor of Edmond Christian Church from 2005-2016 where she developed Camp Create and she continues to serve in Children’s Ministry at The Well Church. After being a home educator for 12 years to her own children, she founded A Lesson Learned, LLC in 2016, a private home-based school and tutoring provider. She is also currently a distributor with Young Living and teaches classes on the use of essential oils and toxin-free living.
Dianne’s passion has always been serving young families, the arts, and education. She is a devoted follower of Jesus Christ, and she is profoundly grateful for the abundant life that God has provided through her family, her work, and her ministry.
Let this be my only ambition, Romans 12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship…
Assistant Company Director/Teacher, Alex Mae LaGuardia began studying dance at 171 Cedars Arts in Corning, NY, at three years old. She joined Studio J School of Dance in 2002 and was a member of the Studio J Company from 2004 to 2015. Her training has also provided the opportunity to attend dance intensives at Millennium Dance Complex, LA, University of Central Oklahoma, and The Edge Performing Arts Center, LA, as well as numerous master classes throughout the region.
In 2016, Alex moved to Los Angeles and lived in North Hollywood to further her training taking classes primarily at The Edge Performing Arts Center and Movement Lifestyle. There she also had the opportunity to perform a piece by Mackenzie Martin at Club Jete.
Under the instruction of Meredith Powell and Hilary McAlister, she has performed award-winning numbers at numerous competitions, festivals, and conventions and has earned scholarships from Tremaine Dance Convention, Soul de Soul Dance Convention, Hall of Fame, Co. Dance, and The Pulse. Her performance experience includes dancing in two NBA pregame shows, various charitable events and fundraisers, as well as several holiday shows. She is a member of Meraki, an Oklahoma based contemporary dance company created and directed by Hilary McAlister, and performed in their recent show “Storytellers”. She has also performed as a back up dancer for local musicians and was a dancer in the concept video “Silhouettes” choreographed by Mackenzie Martin.
Alex Mae has been on staff at Studio J since 2006 and began teaching and choreographing in 2012. She has assisted at Soul de Soul Dance Convention, pom clinics, dance projects, and has provided private lessons to young dancers.
Dance is where she feels she can speak the most clearly and honestly. It has been her voice, her safe place, and her heart’s greatest joy since she can remember. It is truly a blessing to her that she gets to serve her community through this beautiful art form.
Psalm 139:14 “I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know this full well.”
Teacher, Karli Dodson began her dance pursuit at Studio J in 2005. Her journey atStudio J began with taking classes for ballet, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary, and pointe.After graduating from high school, she was accepted into The Joffrey Ballet School inNew York City, New York. There she continued her studies in ballet, jazz, modern, hip-hop, musical theater, and tap. Karli has had the opportunity to travel across the country and globe to broaden her expertise and continually grow in her knowledge and love for dance. Her travels have led her to take classes in New York City, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, Germany, and more. To name just a few of the dance training programs and classes she has attended are Soul de Soul, Monsters of Hip Hop, andUrban Dance Camp.
However, her love of dance is surpassed by her love for the children that she has had the opportunity to teach. Her passion is encouraging children to express themselves through movement, and it is her goal to cultivate a safe, positive environment for these children to flourish. Karli has been on staff at Studio J since 2016. She taught martial arts to children and adults prior to teaching dance. She was an instructor for CreativeMovement Class and Music Class at First Christian’s Church Mother’s Day Out programing 2017 and 2018. She has also been a volunteer at Positive Tomorrows in OklahomaCity (a non-profit organization that provides elementary school education for homeless children). At Positive Tomorrows, Karli is able to use her God-given gifts to foster a safe space for these children to learn dance and productively express themselves.
Before Karli’s love for dance, Christ knew her and had a plan for her life (Jeremiah 1:5).Though His path for her has not always been clear, He has remained faithful (1Corinthians 1:9). For this, she strives to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and continually give Him thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Christ has dwelt within her the passion for dance, and she chooses to use that passion to praise Him in every season(Psalm 150). Christ has also used Studio J as the current location where Karli is able to share her love for Christ and children by teaching dance to the upcoming generations.
Teacher, Mandy Meehan
was born and raised in Edmond, Oklahoma. She began dancing at Studio J in 1998, when she was 3 years old. She trained at Studio J for 10 years, and competed with the Studio J Company. In high school, she trained at ARTS Revealing the Son, which is now known as Reclaiming Arts. She was a member of Radiant Dance Company, and ARTS Dance Ensemble, where she performed in music videos, at conferences, nursing homes, churches, and just about everywhere in between. She studied ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, musical theater, hip hop, lyrical, and modern.
Mandy has loved getting to serve as a ballet instructor at Studio J for the past few years. She strives to lead classes that are fun, focused, and Jesus centered, and she hopes to motivate each dancer to be the best that they can be. She is passionate about using dance as a form of worship, and training young people to pursue Jesus through dancing, and in their lives.
Mandy is married married to her best friend James, and on top of teaching ballet, she is also a practicing Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP), YouTuber, and entrepreneur.
Teacher, Malia Klebanov
fell in love with dance as a tiny girl. She received extensive dance and gymnastics training. She had the opportunity to dance on tour with Behind the Veil, choreographing her first full production at age 15. She also went on to receive a full scholarship from the University of Oklahoma, where she competed as an award- winning gymnast. After graduating from OU in 2001, she started Beautiful Feet, a dance ministry introducing youth to the worshipping and performing arts. She discovered her passion for using dance to reach kids, making a difference in their lives. She went back to school getting her Master’s degree in Fine Arts Education, from the University of Arkansas.
She started the first public school dance program in Arkansas in 2005. She taught dance 7th through 12th grade, as well as coached the dance team, and choreographed and directed for the theatre program. Her team won consecutive state titles, and finished in the top 20 at nationals. Her theatre troupe also finished as national finalist for their group musical, multiple years. While she ran a successful dance program for nine years, she feels her greatest accomplishment is knowing she made a positive impact on the students she was privileged to teach.
She was excited to move back to Oklahoma in 2014. She has continued choreographing for schools, and is thrilled to join the Studio J family! The famous dancer Martha Graham said, “Dance is the language of the soul.” Malia feels that dance is the language God gave her to show His love, and help kids grow in the full potential of who they were created to be!
Teacher, Chloe Jenson was born and raised in Edmond, Oklahoma. She began her dance training in 2000 at the age of 3 at Studio J School of Dance. Under the instruction of Meredith Powell and Hilary McAlister, Chloe was a member of the Studio J Company from 2008-2015. She received scholarships from Hall of Fame, OKLA, Encore, Soul De Soul, and The Pulse. In addition to her training at Studio J, Chloe has had the opportunity to attend intensives such as Tremaine’s Summer Intensive in Los Angeles and Justin Giles’ Soul Escape Intensive in Dallas, as well as numerous conventions and master classes. Chloe was pleased to have been convention assistant to Soul de Soul Dance Convention co-founder and CEO Mackenzie Martin in Oklahoma City, New York City and Los Angeles and to assist her in many master classes.
In 2015, Chloe began training in New York City at The Joffrey Ballet School as a student in their Preprofessional Jazz and Contemporary Program. She is now studying dance performance at the University of Central Oklahoma where she is a member of and rehearsal director for Kaleidoscope Dance Company. Chloe has trained, and is still currently training, in ballet, jazz, modern, contemporary, hip hop, pointe, tap, musical theater, and aerial.
Chloe’s teaching career began in 2007 teaching summer camps at Studio J. Later she became a staff member at Studio J as a teacher and choreographer. Chloe has been given numerous opportunities to choreograph for the University of Central Oklahoma where her work regularly appears in various performances throughout the year. She is a student teacher for the University of Central Oklahoma and has also taught for the Oklahoma High-school Dance Festival and assists numerous classes through the American Collegiate Dance Association Conference over the course of the past few years.
As a believer in collaboration and in supporting other young artists, Chloe has performed as a backup dancer for two local vocal artists at the Oklahoma State Fair, and appeared as a featured dancer in a music video for another local artist. She has also appeared in and helped produce numerous concept videos and collaboration projects across the region.
She believes that all dancers, children and adults, deserve the chance to experience the art of dance one way or another in a safe environment. Her teaching goal is to create beautiful, versatile dancers with flexibility, proper technique, and the confidence to be themselves in the industry of dance.
Teacher, Erica Saldanha
currently studies dance at Oklahoma City University as a Senior Dance Pedagogy Major. She is grateful to have taken courses in Teaching Strategies, Anatomy for Dancers, and Dance History, on top of daily technique classes.
Originally from St. Petersburg, Florida she danced competitively and trained in styles of tap, jazz, ballet, contemporary, hip-hop, and acro. Growing up she performed around her community in various parades and local events.
She spent her time last summer dancing in Texas the Outdoor Musical. She has most recently performed with the American Spirit Dance Company in their Home for the Holidays and Broadway Revue productions.
Erica has always been passionate about teaching dance. She strives to refine the up and coming generation of artist by inspiring a love for dance through technical precision, historical knowledge, and dedication to the craft. Every student is so unique, but she wants all of her dancers to grow into strong, empowered artists!
Erica is thrilled to be teaching at Studio J Performing Arts Center!
Director of Triple Threat Academy, Angela K. McKenna has a bachelors degree in music education and a masters in educational leadership from the University Of Central Oklahoma.She is a published author with Hal Leonard Publications, with her book being a top resource seller for the choir classroom. She conducts honor choirs and festivals across the state of Oklahoma.
Angela was Edmond Public Schools Teacher of the Year in 2012, as well as a finalist for State Teacher of the Year. Angela is National Board Certified educator. She currently works as the owner/operator of McKenna Studios and Dance Mom Design custom dance wear. Angela was recently named as an Artist In Residence at the University of Central Oklahoma where she directs the Cantilena Women's Chorus and oversees the vocal music education department.
She is excited to be a part of the development of musicians, singers, and actresses at Studio J for the 2019-20 season.
Teacher, Taylor Clark was born and raised in Edmond, Oklahoma. She began her dance training in 2001 at the age of 2 and joined Studio J at age 11. She has trained in ballet, jazz, contemporary, pointe, and clogging. Taylor joined Studio J’s staff in 2011 and began teaching and choreographing in 2012. She is currently in nursing school at Oklahoma Christian University.
She had the opportunity to compete with several solos and attend several conventions with Studio J’s Company throughout high school. She also had the opportunity to attend DanceLife Teacher Conference last summer where she was able to take many master classes from other experienced teachers from around the country.
Taylor feels like dance is where she is the most free to be herself. She believes that dance gives her a voice and a way to express things that she couldn’t otherwise. She loves being able to share these things, along with the technique and discipline of dance, with all of the children she teaches. She has greatly enjoyed getting to teach at Studio J over the last 7 years and cannot wait for this season!
Teacher/Social Media, Sarah Labaroff
is ecstatic to be joining Studio J’s teaching staff this year! Sarah has danced her whole life, and it was her love of dance that inspired her to pursue a degree in teaching and help to foster that love for other students.
She is currently in her senior year at the Ann Lacey School of Dance and Entertainment at Oklahoma City University pursuing a degree in Dance Pedagogy. Sarah just finished an internship abroad in Barcelona where she had to opportunity to teach dance classes to the kids over there and was able to work their end of the year shows.
She has worked as a choreographer’s assistant at a national dance competition, been a dance consultant for color guard teams, and taught in a wide variety of dance environments. Sarah has performed in the American Spirit Dance Company at OCU in their annual Broadway Revue and Home for the Holidays Shows, where she has performed all styles including tap, jazz, lyrical, and hip hop.
Sarah is excited work with the students at Studio J and is very grateful to join such a wonderful team.
Teacher, Maleah Hodge was born and raised in Edmond, Oklahoma. She trained for 10 years at Star Steps Dance Studio before moving to Studio J in 2011. She attended Deer Creek Schools for 13 years and was apart of the Deer Creek spirit program for 6 years. In high school, she won 4 state titles with Deer Creek Varsity Pom, was Captain her senior year, and All-State All-Region West.
Maleah has a degree in marketing and management from Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. While at ACU she was the Freshman Follies Dance Caption, received a full scholarship to Dance Discovery Studios, and was a teaching assistant for ACU’s Beginning Ballet class. Maleah also interned with ACU’s University Events department for 3 years, was a Student Director for the Wildcat Week orientation program, and was the Vice President of her sorority Ko Jo Kai.
Since moving back to the Oklahoma City area, she has taught dance at Studio J, worked in marketing for the Oklahoma City Thunder, and is currently a Legal Assistant for Thompson & Winton in Edmond. She loves being apart of Studio J and looks forward to working with all of her students!
Teacher, Carly Cobble was born in Edmond Oklahoma, and the youngest of 4 children born to Lonny and Terri Cobble. She started dancing at the age of 11 at Dance Phase in 2010. Two years following, she joined the competitive team at Dance Phase, which brought many opportunities. The competition team lead her to winning America’s Dancer of the year at ADA dance competition in 2016. The year of 2017 she traveled with Celebrity Dance Convention as a senior crew member. She also danced on the Carnival cruise ship for the week of Celebrity Dance Nationals at Sea.
This past year she was accepted into a bridge program in LA through Retters Academy of Dance, where she trained with several different teachers and assisted alongside world reknown teachers.
While teaching at Studio J, she intends to make her class a fun learning environment for the kids and to give them as much of her knowledge about the art of dance as she possibly can. She wants to teach children that dancing is not only just fun, but to show them how special the art form truly is.
Teacher, Summer Peppler grew up in Plano, TX training in ballet, modern and jazz dance at Gotta Dance Studio, performing with the Plano Metropolitan Ballet Company through her childhood and high school years.
Summer graduated with a BFA in Modern Dance from Texas Christian University.
As a TCU Guild Scholar, she had the privilege to perform in works choreographed by Robert Battle, Christian Von Howard and Susan Douglas Roberts. Her passion for educating dance to less privileged students earned her TCU’s Giving Back Grant, allowing her to bring dance to community Elementary classes.
Upon gradation, Summer danced professionally as a Friend’s of Tyme dancer with Larwell Productions and was a company member of Epiphany DanceArts in Dallas and after moving to Oklahoma joined Perpetual Motion Dance. In 2014 she had the honor of performing Perpetual Motion’s Mercury, an aerial hoop duet, at the National Performance Network Conference in Tulsa.
Summer continually enjoys sharing the joy of dance through teaching and performing and is excited to join the Studio J family!
Teacher, Natalie Herring began studying dance in Houston, Texas at the age of three. After moving toEdmond, she began dancing at Studio J School of Dance in 2006. She trained at Studio J for12 years, including 8 years on Studio J Company. She has attended many master classes and intensives, such as the Broadway Bound intensive at OCU in Oklahoma City and theAMDA summer conservatory in NYC. From 2017 to 2019, Natalie was a member of the SoulElite team through Soul De Soul Dance Convention and trained in many cities all over the country. In 2019, Natalie spent three months in New York City training at Peridance Capezio Center under many amazing teachers like Emily Greenwell and Gwen Potter and earned a certificate for the independent study program.
Natalie’s real passion is with teaching and investing in the children she works with. Her goal is to create an environment where kids can learn and grow more confident in themselves through dance. She wants to pass along her love of dance to the next generation because it has been such an important part of her life. Natalie is beyond excited to be teaching at Studio J this year. Currently, Natalie is studying Early Childhood Education at the University of Central Oklahoma.
Teacher, Katie Sturm was born and raised in Edmond, Oklahoma. She began her dance training at Studio J Performing Arts Center in 2012, at the age of eleven. By 2016, Katie joined Studio J Dance Company where she furthered her training for the following three years under the direction of Hilary McAlister and Meredith Powell. During this time, she received scholarships and awards from regional dance competitions such as Tribute, Talent on Parade, and Encore. She was awarded the Soul Elite Scholarship at Soul De Soul Dance Convention in 2019, which has given her the opportunity to travel and dance within different cities across the U.S. Katie attended the University of Central Oklahoma’s Summer Dance Workshop from 2018-2019, where she took classes from artists such as Mike Esperanza, Bill Evans, Don Holquist, and the UCO dance faculty. Sequentially, she graduated high school in 2019 and was accepted into the University of Central Oklahoma’s Department of Dance as a dance performance major and a member of Kaleidoscope Dance Company. She has also been a member of Meraki Movement Company, a professional company under the direction of Hilary McAlister, since 2018, with which she has performed in the videos Breaking Dawn and Howl, and in their recent show Storytellers in 2019.
Having studied in the styles of ballet, jazz, contemporary, modern, tap, hip hop, acrobatics, and aerial, she is thrilled to get the chance to share her experience with others. As a teacher, Katie hopes to inspire a passion for dance within her students. She intends to create an environment for learning without judgement or fear of mistakes, but rather with encouragement and creativity. It is her priority to teach others that no matter how old, what you look like, or who you are, you can pursue what you are passionate about.