Alumni Spotlight: From a childhood dream to the Joffrey Ballet costume department

Ellie Cotey headshot

Ellie Cotey I Theatre: Costume Production, BFA

Ellie Cotey is a talented costume manager, currently showcasing her talent at Joffrey Ballet. Her journey began with a childhood passion for sewing, a passion that eventually led her to pursue a theatre degree at the Peck School of the Arts.  

Educational Journey and Career Path 

Ellie’s fascination with sewing began at the young age of four. Her dreams were woven with threads of creativity, envisioning the creation of stunning ballet costumes and tutus. This early passion led her to the doors of PSOA, where she found her perfect fit. The Costume Production BFA program at PSOA proved to be the ideal canvas for Ellie’s artistic aspirations, “I wanted to take Millinery, Patternmaking, Draping, Painting and Dyeing, Leatherworking… all of it!” 

Impactful Classes and Faculty 

During her time at UWM, Ellie’s journey was shaped by the guidance of two exceptional mentos, Jeff Lieder, and Pam Rehberg. Ellie recalls, “I specifically remember my first patternmaking class and feeling like Pam had just handed me a key that unlocked how all clothes worked. It was so validating and exciting – I felt like I could make anything.” 

Advice to Students

Ellie’s experience at PSOA meant embracing every opportunity that presented itself – and more! When asked what advice she would give to current and future students, Ellie shared, “I got so much out of the classes and professors, and I kept asking for more. I tried to get as much as I could out of each project and did extra projects and research and independent studies. I knew that I was only there for a short period of time, and tried to take advantage of the fact that I was finally getting to do what I wanted to do all day every day. Not every student is interested enough to go above and beyond but DO THAT if you have found what you love to do! Those connections you make at UWM are what will get you your first job and those relationships can continue for a whole career.” 

In Ellie’s footsteps, she leaves an inspiring trail for future artists and creators, reminding them that with dedication, every dream woven with threads of passion can become a reality.