Teachers

Lori Couture

Lori CoutureLori has been the Garden City Parks and Recreation Dance Express Coordinator for the last 35 years. She has studied several different types of dance including Cecchitti ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, lyrical, modern contemporary, Hawaiian, baton, and arco. She was an active member of the Downriver Civic Ballet Company, and danced professionally with the Hawaiian Group. 


Nicole Mikail

Nicole MikailNicole joined Dance Express in the fall of 2011, and has loved every minute of her teaching career. She has had countless dance experiences; studying numerous types of dance over the past 25 years.  Highlights include; dancing competitively at Debbie Felton's Academy of Dance, training in Cecchetti Ballet and continued dance education through various workshops and conventions including Chicago National Associate of Dance Masters (CNADM). "I am so honored and proud to be a part of such a great program.  I am blessed to be able to pass along my knowledge and passion for dance to the next generation.  I cherish the time I get with my students, I love watching them learn and grow not only in dance, but as people as well."

Lenise Smith

Lenise SmithLenise has been with Dance Express for over 20 years! "I just can’t believe I’ve been doing something that I absolutely Love for so long, but even more than that I’ve taught and watched so many youngsters who have grown into Amazing people! I am honestly Blessed to be a part of such a wonderful program as well as starting out so many 'babies' in the world of Dance!!"

Samantha Burlingame

Samantha BurlingameSamantha has been dancing since age 3. She began dancing in the Dance Express Program at age 6 and started her teaching career at age 21. She is experienced in all types of dances, with extraordinary experience in jazz, ballet (pointe), lyrical, and musical theatre. Throughout her dance career she has held the position of dance assistant to Program Director, Lori Couture. "Lori has mentored me greatly and shared her teaching experience and knowledge with me along the way."  In addition to Dance Express, she also danced competitively at Debbie Felton’s Academy of Dance for two years. “I am lucky enough to have been apart of the Dance Express program, as a student and a teacher, my entire life. As a teacher, I am able to share my knowledge and love for dance with my students and watch them grow as dancers.”

Kayla Wilkie

Kayla WilkieMiss Kayla has been a part of the Dance Express program for 25 years. She started in her first classes at the age of three, and has worked her way up from an assistant/substitute to a teacher over the years. Miss Kayla’s favorite dance genre is Tap, due to the endless possibilities, and the fun upbeat nature of the music. Over the span of her dance career she has also enjoyed partaking in Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, and Musical Theatre classes. In her spare time, Miss Kayla enjoys kayaking, traveling, and camping with her family. Miss Kayla looks forward to many more exciting years with Dance Express! 

Nicole (Nikki) Heikkila-Popkin

Nicole (Nikki) Heikkila-Popkin started dance at the age of three right here at Dance Express! After graduating from Garden City High School in 2013, Nikki went on to get a Bachelor of Science in Dance with concentration in dance education, and a Bachelor if Arts in Theater. She graduated cum laude from Wayne State University. Since undergrad, Nikki has taught dancers of all ages in tap, ballet, acro, musical theater, lyrical, hip-hop and jazz around  South East Michigan. She is a member of the National Dance Education Organization and Michigan Dance Council. Nikki is also a professional dancer with two local dance companies- Dance Uprising and Diversiform Dance Project. In her spare time, she works in theater tech and relaxes at home with her husband and cat. She is so happy to be teaching at the studio that made her fall in love with dance!

Joely Burlingame 

Joely has been involved with the Dance Express family for over 20 years as a supportive dance mom to Samantha Burlingame.  In addition to being an involved parent, Joely took over the stage manager position for the Dance Express recital three years ago.  She has been dancing since her teen years with experience in jazz and ballet, additionally she was a member of her high school pom pon squad.  Joely has continued to dance throughout her life by staying involved in many different types of dance fitness classes including aerobics and Zumba.  She looks forward to leading a fun jazz dance fitness class for adults.