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Our Staff

The diversified Staff at Sonja’s Studio is made up of highly qualified instructors teaching a variety of dance styles, cheer, tumbling & acro techniques.  Our teachers commit to teaching and inspiring proper technique, determination, dedication, self-discipline and a love of the performing arts in each student.

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Jessica Atkinson

Studio Co-Owner, Director of Alaska Pride Dance Company, Dance & Certified Acro Instructor

Jessica, born and raised in Alaska, discovered her passion for dance at the tender age of 3. Her journey led her to dance and compete across the nation. After earning her degree from the College of Eastern Utah, where she was a member of the Ballet Repertory Ensemble, Jessica returned home to become an integral part of Sonja’s Studio. Now as the owner, she not only teaches but also manages a multitude of responsibilities, including payroll, recital preparation, costuming, and more. In addition to her role at the studio, Jessica is the visionary behind the esteemed Alaska Pride Dance Company and co-directs the annual Alaskan Nutcracker. With extensive training in Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Clogging, Hip Hop, Partnering, Lyrical, and Acro, Jessica's expertise and passion continue to shape the dance community in Alaska. Jessica is a certified Acro instructor through Acrobatic Arts and is First Aid/CPR certified.

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Ashley Harman

Studio Co-Owner, Director of Giggletime Preschool, Head Cheer Coach & Certified Acro Instructor

Ashley's dance journey started at the age of 3 and continued through her collegiate years at the College of Eastern Utah, where she refined her talents as a member of the esteemed CEU Ballet Repertory Ensemble while also joining the college's cheer squad. Since 2007, she has been coaching cheer at Sonja's Studio.  Ashley dedicated seven years to coaching the Palmer High School Football Varsity cheer squad before resigning to become a mom.  While she possesses training in many dance styles, her true passion lies in cheerleading, tumbling and acro. Ashley holds certifications in First Aid & CPR, Heads up Concussion, and Anaphylaxis & Epi Pen Auto Injectors.  She holds safety certifications for cheerleading through AACCA and acro through Acrobatic Arts. Now, as a co-owner of the business, Ashley wears many hats, overseeing various aspects of the studio's operations. Ashley serves as the director of Giggletime Preschool, playing a pivotal role in shaping the early education experiences of the young children at the studio.

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Sonja Babcock

Studio Founder / Retired Owner / Mentor

After more than 25 years of dedicated work in Alaska, Sonja, who holds a degree in Community Recreation from Vincennes University, has retired. During her career, she excelled as a dancer, teacher, choreographer, and arts administrator. Together with her family, she established the renowned Babcock Fine Arts Building, where she offered a diverse range of classes including dance, cheer, tumbling, acro, art, piano, and musical theater. Additionally, Sonja founded Giggletime Preschool and Enliven Adult Dance Company. Her lifelong mission has been to provide enjoyable, supportive, and inspiring arts classes to her community.

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Leticia Jensen

Office Manager

Leticia has been a cherished member of Sonja's Studio team for over six years. With her background in medical billing and reception work, she effortlessly fits into our office dynamics. She takes pride in guiding parents through the dance world and supporting students along their journey. We're grateful for her dedication and look forward to many more years of her invaluable service to our dance families.

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Mary Sparrs

Director of Ballet

Mary has been directing our ballet department for the last seven years. She was initially trained under Steve Primis, Alice Bassler-Sullivan, Michelangelo Canale, and various artists in residence. She spent summers at fine arts camps such as the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Mercy Hurst College with David Howard. She has studied ballet, pointe, contemporary, jazz, modern, and ballroom dance.

 

Mary was an Alaska Dance Theater Company II member and has performed for Alberta Ballet, Academie de Danse, Ballet West, Anchorage Classical Ballet, Enliven, Anchorage Opera Association, and was a member of the University of Nevada Division 1 Dance Team where she also earned her degree in Psychology/Childhood Development and studied dance. 

 

Mary has taught for more than twenty years and also enjoys choreographing and helping students compete, whether it be local or for Youth American Grande Prix. Mary co-directs the annual production of The Alaskan Nutcracker, participated in Pacific Northwest Ballet's teachers seminar, and loves every minute working with her students.

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Jamie Metcalf

Director of Contemporary

Jamie was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, and began dancing at the age of 3. In high school, she was a member of the school's drill team and became President of the dance company, and during her senior year was chosen as the “Dance Sterling Scholar”. She pursued and acquired a degree in dance at Utah Valley University and was a member of the University’s Modern Dance Company. Jamie has taught dance at several different studios throughout the 23 years of her teaching career, but is most proud of the last 19 years as a staff member at Sonja’s Studio of Dance.

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Lena Edwards

Director of Tumbling, Giggletime Preschool Instructor, Acro Instructor. 

Lena's devotion to gymnastics spans 47 years, ignited by her deep-seated passion. Over the past 33 years, she has served as a coach across the nation, leaving her mark in Washington, Wyoming, and Alaska. Lena holds the esteemed title of a Level 10 judge in gymnastics, and she continuously expands her expertise through annual national trips, enriching her understanding of the sport. She is recognized for her commitment to safety and excellence, being certified by USA Gymnastics. Lena's dedication extends beyond coaching and judging; she generously volunteers her time for events such as the Arctic Winter Games and Special Olympics, embodying the spirit of community and inclusivity. As a member of both USA Gymnastics and the National Association of Women's Gymnastics Judges (NAWGJ), Lena remains deeply entrenched in the gymnastics community, contributing her knowledge and passion at every opportunity.

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Kelsi Crump

Assistant Director of Alaska Pride Drill Team, Dance Instructor &

Giggletime Preschool Instructor

Kelsi grew up in her mother's dance studio and has been dancing since she could walk. She has trained professionally in many genres of dance. Kelsi attended Idaho State University on a dance scholarship from 2006-2009 where she was a member of the nationally ranked Bengal Dancers; 2008 USA Jazz and 2007 USA Hip Hop National Champions. Kelsi first started teaching in her mother's studio at the age of 15 and fell in love with sharing her passion with the youth. She has since taught at numerous studios and is so grateful for the opportunity to continue sharing her passion with the dancers at Sonja's Studio where she has been teaching since 2017.  Kelsi's a key player in the Alaska Pride Drill Team at the studio, and she's been bringing fun to Giggletime Preschool as an instructor for four years now.

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Pam Burlingame

Director of Sonja's Studio Enliven Dance Company

Pamela Burlingame was raised in Fairbanks, studying jazz, ballet and tap. She received her masters in physical therapy from Boston University where she founded FUSION dance company. Pam is co-owner/physical therapist at Alyeska Therapy Center, Inc where she helps individuals with neurological impairments and children.  Pam is also the artistic director for Enliven Dance Company at Sonja’s Studio.  Enliven strives to share their love of movement and music with our community.  You can find Pam and Enliven immersing themselves in all things theater as they provide support for many productions in a variety of ways both on-stage and off.

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Amber Anderson

Director of Music & Musical Theater Instructor

Amber has always had music in her life. She was raised in a very musical family where singing and playing instruments was a given. She studied music at the University of Wisconsin at Steven's Point with emphasis in voice. She plays and teaches piano, flute, and violin as well as voice. She has coached voice and taught music in the Valley for over 15 years and has taught at Sonja's studio of performing arts for over 7 years. She has her hands in many musical pies throughout the Valley and is excited to work with children and adults alike. 

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Cheryl Cheney

Giggletime Preschool Instructor

Cheryl was born in Fort Knox Kentucky and grew up traveling most of the West Coast. Cheryl has had a passion for working with children since she was young herself. After graduating from high school she worked as a preschool teacher and received her CDA in child education. Later Cheryl went on to earn a bachelors degree in Child Development from Brigham Young University Idaho. After receiving her bachelor's degree she completed an internship with Sonja's Studio's Giggletime Preschool and is continuing to work with the preschool program today. Cheryl is First Aid/CPR certified. 

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Leticia Wade

Dance Instructor & Giggletime Preschool Instructor

Leticia Wade, a born and raised Alaskan dancer, began her journey at a young age under the tutelage of her parents. Throughout high school, she specialized in hip hop, Latin, and jazz dance, and was a standout competitive cheerleader, securing the 2003 State championship and placing second at the NCA competition in Florida under Melissa Carey’s guidance. After high school, Leticia joined Underground Dance Company led by Gabe Harvey, where she earned state and national titles and enhanced her skills through various conventions across the country. Transitioning from hip hop, Leticia expanded her expertise by joining Momentum Dance Collective and participating in UAA dance programs, where she explored modern and contemporary dance styles. Currently, she is a member of Enliven Dance Collective and has been an instructor at Sonja’s for several years, teaching a diverse range of dance styles, including musical theatre, hip hop, and modern dance. Balancing her passion for dance with motherhood, Leticia enjoys watching her three children perform and values the opportunities provided by Sonja’s for her family and all their students. She is dedicated to continuing her education and sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm with her students.

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Jessilynn Inks

Dance, Tumbling, Cheer and Giggletime Preschool Instructor

Jessi was born and raised in Alaska and fell in love with dance at a young age. Upon graduating from Twindly Bridge Charter School in 2019, her aim was to remain at Sonja's Studio and impart her knowledge and enthusiasm for dance to the next generation. Jessi has been dancing for over a decade, with experience in diverse styles and a passion for teaching. Her bubbly personality makes her well-equipped to inspire children and foster their growth. Her expertise includes drill team and cheerleading experience, where she was recognized for her performance abilities and tumbling. Jessi has certifications in concussion safety, cheerleading safety through AACCA, and first aid. She is dedicated to providing a safe and nurturing environment for children to flourish.

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Abby Keller

Dance Instructor

Abby began her dance education in Anchorage with Karen Grotts at the age of three. She later trained with Alice Bassler Sullivan and Courtland Weaver at Alaska Dance Theatre (ADT), where she was a member of the student company for three years. During this time she performed work by K. T. Nelson, Courtland Weaver, Alice Bassler Sullivan, and numerous other choreographers. She continued her training at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival as well as Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet Summer Program. After high school graduation, Abby continued her dance training at New Mexico State University where she earned a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Dance. Her training includes diverse styles of dance that vary from Flamenco to Ballet in various levels. During her four years at New Mexico State University, she studied abroad in Spain for a month-long intensive in 2014, and participated in the American College Dance Association. Abby also performed professionally with Literacy Through Movement (LTM) for four seasons while in Las Cruces. Abby has several years experience in instruction as a Teacher’s Candidate with ADT, Tap Dance Instructor with Las Cruces School of Dance and Music, and Movement Instructor for LTM. Abby enjoys the opportunity to teach dance to various levels and ages of students. She looks forward to sharing her passion for dance with future generations of Alaskan dancers.

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Victoria Dempsey

Dance Instructor

Victoria was born and raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She started dancing at the age of 3 and danced competitively for 10 years. Throughout high school, Victoria attended numerous dance workshops to train with professional choreographers. She had the opportunity to perform with the Moscow Ballet in the Russian Nutcracker when the company toured to Colorado. Victoria started teaching dance at the age of 15 at her home studio. She is trained in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, and lyrical.

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Valerie Latta

Office Assistant

Val spent many years as a dance mom before becoming a Sonja’s Studio staff member.  Her past experience managing her own business, and years in customer service,  make her a great asset to the office team.  She has seen the positive and encouraging atmosphere of SSPA firsthand and can’t wait to help you experience it for yourself! 

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Sarah Latta

Dance Instructor

Sarah was born and raised in Alaska and grew up dancing at Sonja’s Studio of Performing Arts.  She has attended many summer intensive programs including American Ballet Theater, Oregon Ballet Theater, Walnut Hill School for the Arts, among others.  Sarah has had the opportunity to train under many talented performers such as Julie Kent, Lupe Serrano, Robert Curran, Helen Starr, Alun Jones, Sascha Radetsky, Carlos Lopez, Ethan Brown, and Kate Linsley.  After spending two seasons as a trainee with Nashville Ballet, she went on to spend three seasons dancing professionally with The Georgia Ballet.  Sarah has a passion for dance and loves sharing her experience with others. 

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Erin Babcock

Dance Instructor

Erin was born in Colorado where she started dancing at a young age. She developed a love for teaching and became a teacher assistant at age 12. She had studied dance with various studios in Colorado, Montana and most notably at Sonja’s Studio of Performing Arts after moving to Wasilla when she was 16. She has extensive training in many forms of dance and has taught a variety of Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Clogging, contemporary, Lyrical, Modern, Hip Hop, Acro and GiggletIme Preschool classes. She began teaching at Sonja’s Studio in 2010 and loves sharing her passion with all ages from Creative Movement through adulthood. In addition to her regular courses, Erin has been a member of EnLiven Dance Company, performed and choreographed annually for The Alaskan Nutcracker and taken classes in Aerial Fabric.

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Evette McDonald

Dance Instructor

Evette McDonald grew up in Utah dancing as soon as she could walk with her five sisters in their basement until she was able to save enough money to start taking dance lessons at 8 years old.  Her love for dance continued to follow her through her life; in high school she danced on the drill team, serving as captain her senior year and was a teacher's assistant at a local studio.  Evette went on to college at Utah State University for 3 years where she danced with their Contemporary Dance Company and started a Hiphop Company her last two years. From there she transferred to The University of Utah where she danced on the Utah Dance Team; formerly known as Crimson Line. Evette graduated with a Bachelors of Social Work and has always tried to integrate dance into her life, holding dance classes for refugees in Anchorage during her internship or teaching dance to youth living at a halfway house with their mothers. During her time at the U of U she started teaching at a local studio in Utah where she taught the competitive hip hop teams as well as some preschool and recreational classes including; jazz, contemporary and hip hop. Dance has been an integral part of Evette’s life and has shaped her into the person she is today.  She’s a mother to four beautiful kids and after moving around the US the past 13 years she and her family have settled down here in Palmer, Alaska. She loves being able to teach dance once again, especially to the amazing youth here in the Mat-Su Valley. 

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Emily Roberts

Dance Instructor & Giggletime Preschool Instructor

Emily Roberts began dancing at the age of 7 at Dancers Workshop in Wasilla. Training in various styles such as Ballet, Jazz, contemporary, Latin/ballroom, musical theatre, and tap. She performed annually at the Anchorage Center for Performing Arts as well as performing in several theater productions. She also performs with a Latin/Ballroom company. She has been actively volunteering in the community through the years teaching dance to children with disabilities, choreographing for high school productions and choreographing with several theater production teams. Some notable shows include: Pirates of Penzance, Mamma Mia!, Les Miserables, Oklahoma, and other amazing productions! Emily began her teaching journey at Dancers Workshop and Anchorage Classical Ballet Academy, where she also spent time coaching the Dancers Workshop Youth Company Team. Leading a team of dancers to competitions and organizing several local performances. She later became the Artistic Director of Dancers Workshop where she directed two shows. Emily is now thrilled to be apart of such an amazing studio doing what she loves! 

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Brittany Waters

Recital Stagehand and Theater Lighting/Sound Guru

Brittany has been a part of Sonja’s Studio of Performing Arts since 2002, when she joined at the age of 7. As a lifelong Alaskan, she has enjoyed bringing decades of fun and entertainment to the Valley.  Being a part of the first Alaska Pride Jazz Drill Teams she has had amazing opportunities to perform on a Carnival cruise ship, at the PAC-12 Holiday Bowl halftime show, and at Disneyland. She has competed competitively in many styles of dance with Sonja’s Studio as well as competed in cheerleading through Palmer High School’s Varsity Football Cheer Team. She currently enjoys being a member of the Enliven Dance Company and having the opportunity to be a stagehand/lighting/sound guru during recital time! When she is not dancing, she is often found “catching” which is different than fishing as she likes to remind her husband. 

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