Academy Instructor Bios

 

Cody WalkerCody Walker is thrilled to be joining Artisan as the new Education Director (and Associate Artistic Director) and very excited for all the exciting things happening in the educational program and Academy! From having high standards in both our curriculum and our instructors, new software and student account tracking, and a full support team dedicating to making an extremely successful Academy there is no limit to what we can do! Cody recently comes to Artisan from being the Director of the Musical Theatre Program at Weber State University for the past couple years. Before that he was a professor at Southern Illinois University where he taught musical theatre in their BFA program. Cody loves teaching and has taught and directed at 5 Universities. He received his BFA in Music Dance Theatre from Brigham Young University and his MFA in Musical Theatre from San Diego State University. For the past few summers Cody has been the resident Director and Choreographer of the main-stage Musical Theatre Production Camp for Interlochen Center for the Arts, as well as serving on their Institute Faculty, teaching Acting and Dance for their summer musical theatre Intensive. With his wife Valerie, Cody founded Triple Threat Performing Arts Academy and also served as the Artistic Director for Kre8ive Fine Arts Academy. Cody is well known for specializing in private vocal instruction, teaching classical and contemporary styles of musical theatre, as well as commercial styles in the pop/rock genre. In addition to teaching voice, Cody is a professional director and choreographer having worked in multiple regional theatres across the country. Cody’s professional performance career began nearly two decades ago, with Cody performing lead roles in regional theatres, cruise ships, film, television, commercials, international contracts in China, as the lead singer of a professional progressive rock band, and even performing at Broadway's New York City Center Theater with some of the greatest musical theatre talents of our time, and in the National Tour of 42nd STREET, in the lead role of Billy Lawlor. Cody continues to perform today and is still a member of (AEA) Actors Equity Association, as well as (SDC) Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, and (NATS) National Association of Teachers of Singing. Cody also serves as the Regional Director of the Western United States for the (MTEA) Musical Theatre Educators Alliance International. For 3 years Cody served as Producer and Managing Director at the Jackson Hole Playhouse. He has been teaching the next generation of musical theatre professionals for over 15 years, and loves working with youth and helping them build technique and create fantastic Musical Theatre. Many of his students have been accepted into the top BFA Musical Theatre undergraduate programs in the country. Cody still performs professionally and has most recently been seen as Prince Eric in ACT’s production of, THE LITTLE MERMAID. He is a triple threat performer and triple threat educator teaching acting, dance and voice. He looks forward to working with you in one of our camps this summer and is excited about our new curriculum coming in the fall!

Valerie WalkerValerie Walker is thrilled to be the new Education Manager as well as a director/choreographer for The Artisan Academy! A Los Angeles native, Valerie was immersed in the arts from a young age, having appeared in TV commercials, Films as well as performing in professional musical theatre since age 15. Most recently Valerie choreographed Artisan Center Theater’s main stage production of THE LITTLE MERMAID. She also recently choreographed at Interlochen Center for the Arts in their summer productions of EVITA and CATCH ME IF YOU CAN. Other favorite choreography credits include: THE WIZ (San Diego Kroc Center) and GREASE (Pepperdine University). Favorite performance venues: National Tour of 42nd STREET, Holland America Line Ships, Tuacahn Amphitheatre, Pioneer Theatre Company, Fullerton Civic Light Opera, Jackson Hole Playhouse, Cabrillo Music Theatre, and working as a guest soloist in Macau, China. Other roles include: Audrey in LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, Sandy in GREASE, and Ariel in FOOTLOOSE. Valerie absolutely loves working with kids and couldn’t be more excited to be here at Artisan. Valerie and her husband, Cody, founded Triple Threat Performing Arts Academy and continue to teach in all three areas; voice, acting, and dance. BFA in Music/Dance/Theatre from Brigham Young University.

Natalie BurkhartNatalie Burkhart is absolutely thrilled to be teaching at The Artisan Academy this summer. She has been the director for Artisan Children’s Theater productions since 2011, directing over fifty shows including SHREK THE MUSICAL, INTO THE WOODS, ANNIE, DISNEY’S THE LITTLE MERMAID, HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL, JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, SESUSSICAL, and RODGERS AND HAMMERSTEIN’S CINDERELLA. Some of her acting credits include CITY OF ANGELS and LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS at Our Productions Theatre Co., THE TEMPEST at Dallas Shakespeare Festival and Teatro Dallas’ THE PRETENTIOUS MAIDENS. She has also starred in WEST SIDE STORY, SWING, and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD here at Artisan, and spent two years touring the United States as Betty Blake in ALL HANDS ON DECK. Natalie is also the proud mother of two beautiful (and very active) toddlers that keep her busy in her spare time. Natalie is very passionate about the importance of performing arts in a child’s life and has been teaching acting, technical and musical theatre classes for youth since 2003. Natalie came to teach at Artisan in 2008 and is currently working as Associate Producer for Artisan Center Theater.

Cameron ByrelyCameron Byerly graduated from Texas Wesleyan University with a B.A. in Fine Arts, and an emphasis in performance. This opened doors to teaching movement and stage combat there. He expanded his services to various schools in the DFW metroplex. There, he provided viewpoints, memorization, movement, stage combat, and musical theatre seminars/workshops. He's acted for over ten years and has transitioned from stage acting to directing, choreographing, teaching, acting for film, television, and commercial. He strives to open his own studio and travel the world teaching his movement based acting style and stage combat. “There’s nothing more moving than expressive movement.”

Cherish CahoonCherish Cahoon has recently been seen as the Artistic Director and Founder of Highlight Theater Company, LLC of Houston where she founded a community-based theater company for ages 4 through adult where she directs, choreographs, costumes, and produces all productions. Cherish received her Bachelor’s Degree from Brigham Young University in Theater Arts Studies. She performed in BYU’s Young Touring Company where she received an Irene Ryan Acting nomination for her role of Bagheera in THE JUNGLE BOOK. Cherish was also seen as a Witch in BYU Mainstage production of MACBETH and received another Irene Ryan Acting Nomination for her role of Mother in BREAD OF AFFLICTION with BYU’s Experimental Theater Company. She was an original member of Grassroots Shakespeare Company and also performed with the Actors Repertory Theater. She is also a Stage Combat Certified performer. Cherish has performed with professional Improvisation Troupes such as The Thrillionairs and Comedy Sport. Cherish has been teaching and directing as a Private School Theater Teacher for ten years and has developed and written curriculum for several schools. Cherish has directed and choreographed many shows including JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, ANNIE, PETER PAN, SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL, ROMEO AND JULIET, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, and MACBETH. Cherish directed SEUSSICAL THE MUSICAL for Meridian School which received international acclaim and performed at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh Scotland, where she toured. In 2008, Cherish received the award for 2nd place Choreographer, 2nd place Director and 3rd place overall for her division in The Utah Shakespearian Festival. Cherish loves the stage on every level and enjoys creating beautiful performances.

Hayden CawoodHayden Cawood is currently a sophomore at Dallas Baptist University majoring in music, with an emphasis in worship arts, piano, and vocal performance. Hayden has 10 years of experience, with not just the Artisan mainstage and children’s theater, but multiple theaters around the metroplex as well; including Plaza Theater Company, Greater Cleburne Carnegie Players, The Promise in Glen Rose, Travis Academy of Fine Arts, Casa Mañana, and Dallas Baptist University. In past productions, Hayden has taken on roles such as Alfred Doolittle in MY FAIR LADY (DBU), Horton in SEUSSICAL (Artisan), Genie in ALADDIN (Artisan), Shrek in SHREK THE MUSICAL (Artisan), and Jean Valjean in LES MISÉRABLES (Artisan). Some of Hayden’s past leadership roles include, music director for several musical theater productions at Travis Academy of Fine Arts, student/servant leader in the Artisan Children’s Theater, and multiple years of experience on worship teams all around the metroplex. Some of Hayden’s awards in the fine arts include, Judges Choice award and recital recipient (2016 TPSMEA Solo and Ensemble), 4 years at TPSMEA all-region choir, 2 years at TPSMEA all-state choir, Outstanding Youth Performer (2016 Artisan Awards), and Outstanding Freshman of the Year (2017-2018 DBU College of Fine Arts, Department of Music). The Artisan has been an important part of Hayden’s life for many years and has been a valuable source of his experience, training, and encouragement. This summer, Hayden looks forward to the opportunity to share his love of the stage and the arts at the Artisan Academy.

Noel ClarkNoël Clark serves as the resident Music Director for Artisan Children's Theater and is a Private Voice and Piano teacher and Musical Theater Instructor for Artisan Academy. She holds a Bachelors of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Mississippi and a Masters of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Tennessee, where she was a Graduate Teaching Assistant and an Opera Apprentice and with the Knoxville Opera Company. For the past thirty years, she has been teaching private voice and piano and directing music for churches, universities, community colleges, high schools, middle schools, private Christian schools and homeschooling co-ops in Texas, Massachusetts, Tennessee and Mississippi. She finds it a privilege to work with the talent at Artisan and loves to see the God-given gifts of children bloom as she trains them to sing and act with freedom, authenticity and confidence. She loves to perform and can be seen on the Artisan Main Stage as time allows! Some favorite roles: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (Wardrobe), PHANTOM (Carlotta), THE PIRATE QUEEN (Evelyn), SCROOGE (Mrs. Cratchit), WHO DO YOU SAY THAT I AM (Mary), THE CHOICE (Hannah), THE FANTASTICKS (Luisa), THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO (Cherubino), THE DIALOGUES OF THE CARMELITES (Blanche), and LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD (Little Red).

Emma ColwellEmma Colwell is currently a sophomore at TCU pursuing a BFA in Musical Theatre. She has been performing in the DFW metroplex for the past 10 years and has appeared in many Artisan Center Theater productions as well as professional productions at Casa Manana, Lyric Stage, and Dallas Children's Theatre. Emma originated the role of Snow White in the world premiere of SNOW WHITE & THE PRINCE at Casa and has been a regular cast member of Casa's Apprentice Program. Emma was also the recipient of the prestigious Texas Young Masters Award and has won two DFW Column Awards for Best Actress in a Play Non Equity (2016) and Best Actress in a Musical Non Equity (2018). She was selected as a national cast performer for iTheatrics Choreography DVDs in NYC and worked on 42ND STREET, JR and CHILDREN OF EDEN, JR and also studied at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London. In addition to performing, Emma has worked as a director/choreographer for theatre camps at Covenant Classical School and NYC fundraiser Cabaret at Arts 5th Avenue, and as a costume intern for Theatre TCU. She also has 4 years of experience working as a camp counselor/intern/teaching assistant for Camp Casa, Plaza Theatre Academy, and Artisan Center Theater. Emma is very excited to share all she has learned with the youth who will be attending Artisan this summer!

Jessica CopeJessica Cope is thrilled to be joining the Artisan Academy team this year! Jessica graduated from Baylor University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance and a minor in Child and Family Studies. She then went on to work for The Walt Disney World Resort as a “Fairy Godmother in Training” at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and a Character Attendant with Disney Entertainment! While at Disney, Jessica took many entertainment and leadership classes. Jessica has also taught at many theatre companies in the metroplex, including The Acting Studio, Plaza Theatre Academy, Christian Youth Theatre, and Casa Mañana. She also performs at various theaters as often as she can! Most recently, Jessica was seen on the Artisan stage as Ado Annie in OKLAHOMA! Other performance credits include Tracy Turnblad in HAIRSPRAY, Jo March in LITTLE WOMEN THE MUSICAL, Lucinda in INTO THE WOODS, etc. She received a nomination for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her performance as Tracy Turnblad in HAIRSPRAY at the 2018 Column Awards. Jessica believes in creating a positive and nurturing environment for her students, encouraging them to grow in a fun and safe manner. She believes in not only growing wonderful performers, but also wonderful individuals! Jessica is excited for an incredible year at Artisan Center Theater and is looking forward to meeting her amazing students!

Dawson GrahamDawson Graham is a student at Texas State University, where he studies Dance and Theatre. He is excited to return home and be back at Artisan this summer. He is proud of his years at the Artisan, beginning in Acting, Voice, and Dance classes in the Academy, and then working under wonderful directors in shows such as LOST IN YONKERS, THE JUNGLE BOOK KIDS, SLEEPING BEAUTY JR., CINDERELLA JR., ALL SHOOK UP, GUYS AND DOLLS, and more. Dawson was happy to serve as Dance/Skate Captain for Artisan Theater’s production of STARLIGHT EXPRESS, and he received the Male Chita Rivera Dance Award at the DFW Column Awards (2018) for his work in THE PIRATE QUEEN. Dawson studies all kinds of dance, dance choreography, and dance education—he is proud to bring his skills and experience to The Artisan Academy.

Jennifer LeyvaJennifer Leyva has been working in different aspects of the arts community for over 35 years. Originally from Oklahoma, Jennifer trained as a dancer, actor and choreographer before moving into arts management and marketing. She has worked for Six Flags America, Texas Ballet Theater, Double JJ Ranch & Golf Resort, Arts Fifth Avenue and is currently at Artisan Center Theater as Children's Program Coordinator. As a performer, Jennifer has been a featured in such performances as SWING THE MUSICAL, HELLO DOLLY, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLFE, RECKLESS, BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE ABRIDGED, and many more. She was a featured dancer in many Six Flags America productions and wrote, directed and performed in stunt shows, music and dance revues and Wild West Shows at the Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury, MI. She has been a teacher in the arts for over 25 years and loves working with children. She is an instructor at many local dance studios where she teaches ballet, jazz, tap, modern and lyrical dance to students of all ages and levels. At The Artisan Academy, Jennifer has been an instructor for over 7 years and has worked with students in acting, musical theater performance and dance. Jennifer has also worked as a director for many Artisan Children's Theater productions including SLEEPING BEAUTY, PINKALICIOUS, FANCY NANCY, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, SNOW WHITE, and THE JUNGLE BOOK. Jennifer is also a choreographer in the D/FW Metroplex having choreographed such productions as CAMELOT, PHANTOM THE MUSICAL, SCROOGED, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, SHREK THE MUSICAL, GUYS AND DOLLS, MADAGASCAR, JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, ALADDIN JR, HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL, SEUSSICAL, and many more.

Mady MaloufMady Malouf is excited to be back at Artisan this summer after a 2-year break! Mady taught musical theater classes and camps, as well as private voice and piano lessons, at Artisan Academy for 4 years. She also enjoyed performing in several Main Stage musicals including BIG FISH, LITTLE WOMEN, THE MUSIC MAN, and THE SECRET GARDEN. Mady graduated from the Music Dance Theatre program at Brigham Young University in Utah. She was a member of the Vocal Faculty for the Hale Center Theater Academy for the Performing Arts, and assisted with the Utah Valley Children’s Concert Choir (international tour). Mady was Music Director for the world premier of the musical: THE CHRISTMAS MIRACLE OF JONATHAN TOOMEY.

Abi OxleyAbi Oxley is currently a junior at the University of North Texas, studying Theatre Education. She has over 7 years of experience in the theatre world, her credits including more than 25 plays/musicals, crew work in costuming, choreography, and stage management, and recently making her directing debut. She has worked with several theatres across the DFW area, including Casa Mañana, Artisan Center Theater, and Texas Theatre for Young People, and various theatres across Texas. In addition to work in the theatre world, she has years of classroom and education experience, teaching and working with children. Abi has performed and taught at Artisan for years and is so excited for all the opportunities she's been given!

Steve SkidmoreSteve Skidmore received his B.A. in Theatre from Southeastern Oklahoma State University and his M.Ed. from Widener University. Steve has served as the Assistant Director of the Round Rock Performing Arts Center and as the Technical Director for the Media Theatre in Media, Pennsylvania. His work experiences have been educational and professional in the areas of design, lighting, sound, set construction, and has served as a sound engineer for several churches over the years.