Meet our inaugural Choreographic Fellows for The Utah Ballet Choreographic Institute

17 May 2022 Published in News and Announcements

Announcing the inaugural Choreographic Fellows for The Utah Ballet Choreographic Institute: 


UBSI BCI 0003 BackgroundChristina Ghiardi

UBSI BCI 0001 James KopeckyJames Kopecky

UBSI BCI 0002 Jamal WhiteJamal White

We are very excited to have them on campus this summer working with the Utah Ballet Choreographic Institute Company Dancers.  Read their full bios below.

Also announcing:
Genevieve Boyle, Ariana Fonzo, Eden Heille, Aubrie Nield Holman, Sunny Hsieh, Abby Inglett, Amy Novak, Erina Tanaka, Emily Thompson, and Ryan Stroble have been chosen as the Utah Ballet Choreographic Institute Company Dancers for this summer. 

Jenelle Figgins

Jenelle Figgins is a dancer, teacher, choreographer from Washington, DC. with over a decade of experience performing on the world stage, engaging with communities through education and choreographing exciting new work. She is an alum of SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance and Springboard Danse Montreal. Figgins has danced professionally for Collage Dance Collective, Les Grands Ballet des Montreal, Dance Theatre of Harlem and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. In the 2014 Figgins was awarded the Princess Grace Award, was named one of Dance Magazine’s Top 25 to Watch in 2015 and ‘Theatre Aspen’ crowned her an Aspen Hero following her work in social justice in 2020. Figgins has self-produced several art installations in the American Southwest—most recently ‘A(l)lready Ancestors’ solo installation as Skye Gallery in Aspen—and is a promising ballet choreographer. In 2021, Figgins premiered her first ballet, ‘Spread’ at SUNY Purchase and served as Assistant Choreographer of RENT! at The Signature theatre in DC. Figgins aspires impact on the world through work made to strengthen the life conditions of those who find it.

Christina Ghiardi

Christina Ghiardi is originally from Morgantown, West Virginia, where she received her early ballet training from Morgantown Dance Studio. At the age of 14, she was invited to join the Joffrey Ballet School Trainee Program on full scholarship where she studied for one year. Christina attended the School of American Ballet’s 2008 Summer Course and was subsequently invited to attend the School’s Winter Term where she completed four years of pre-professional training. 

Upon graduating from SAB in 2012, Christina joined Boston Ballet II where she performed with Boston Ballet and in 2013 appeared as a guest artist with Pennsylvania Ballet in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. Christina joined Nevada Ballet Theatre (NBT) in 2014 where she is currently a company artist. Since joining NBT, she has performed principal roles in Giselle, Cinderella, Alice (In Wonderland), Dracula, The Nutcracker and works by George Balanchine including Serenade, Western Symphony, Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, The Four Temperaments, Who Cares?, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  She has also originated featured roles in Matthew Neenan’s Until December, Trey McIntyre’s Crown Shyness, and Lauren Lovette’s Back When.

During Christina’s final year at SAB, she was one of two advanced students selected by Peter Martins and Kay Mazzo for an inaugural student teacher program. Christina joined the faculty of Boston Ballet School’s pre-professional division for the 2013-2014 school year and has appeared a guest teacher at SAB’s Summer Course, Boston Ballet School’s Summer Dance Program, Dallas Ballet Center and The University of Performing Arts in Bratislava, Slovakia. Christina has also choreographed works for Nevada Ballet Theatre, Ballet West II, Boston Ballet School, The School of American Ballet, Ballet Project OC, Neville Dance Theatre and Dallas Ballet Company. 

James Kopecky

Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, James trained in ballet, jazz, tap, modern and musical theater at Dancenter North in Libertyville, IL. During his high school years, James started performing with a professional Tap company Especially Tap Chicago, later called Cartier Collective.  He then attended Butler University under Marek Cholewa, Susan McGuire, Derek Reid, Cynthia Pratt, Tong Wang, Stephan Laurent and Michelle Jarvis, to list a few. In 2010, he graduated with a BFA in Dance Performance and was offered an apprenticeship at Ballet San Jose under the artistic leadership of Dennis Nahat. In his second season, James was promoted to Corps de Ballet. With Ballet San Jose, he was featured in a number of works, such as Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16, Jorma Elo’s Glow/stop, and Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room. After 5 years at Ballet San Jose, James joined Charlotte Ballet where he continues to perform leading roles as a principal dancer. Some of his favorite pieces he has performed are Dwight Rhoden’s The Groove, Jiri Kylian’s Sechs Tänze, Medhi Waleriski’s Petite Ceremonie, Jerome Robbins’s Fancy Free and Johan Inger’s Walking Mad. James has always been choreographing through-out his professional career. He has set works on Butler Ballet, Ballet San Jose’s Academy, Los Gatos Ballet, Opera San Jose, Charlotte Ballet 2, and Charlotte Ballet. James is very excited to be selected as 2022 UBCI Choreographic Fellow, and cannot wait to start creating on the bright and gifted dancers. 

Jamal White

Jamal White (Birmingham, AL) was raised in Atlanta, GA and began his training at and Dance Makers of Atlanta under the direction of Denise and Lynise Heard. He studied as a scholarship student at Ballethnic Dance Academy, Virginia School of the Arts and trained in intensive programs at Kirov Academy of Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and London Contemporary Dance School. In 2011, Mr. White received a B.F.A. in Dance Performance from Southern Methodist University, since he has performed works by choreographers such as Nicolo Fonte, George Balanchine, Dwight Rhoden, Alvin Ailey, Stijn Celis, Richard Siegal, and Hofesh Shechter. He has also performed in Rasta Thomas' Rock the Ballet, Missouri Ballet Theater, Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, Alvin Ailey II and currently BODYTRAFFIC. Jamal has made creations at Southern Methodist University, Dean College, London Contemporary Dance School, Troy University , BODYTRAFFIC, Deeply Rooted Youth Ensemble and The Ailey School. Jamal has also taught and created for many arts exchange and outreach programs in the United States and abroad such as Steps on Broadway, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and the Ailey School. He’s had the pleasure of creating a new work for Company D; A Memphis based contemporary dance company for adults with down syndrome. Jamal is currently on the ballet faculty at Celebrity Dance Convention, Artistic Fellow at BODYTRAFFIC, one of the founding members of The Black Artists Dance Collective, and studying at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in the M.F.A Choreography program.