Top Billing Entertainment is Choreographing the Future of Theater from Glendora Village

All photos: Top Billing Entertainment

One could be forgiven for wanting to lapse into song and dance when strolling down the topiary-lined streets of Glendora Village. But despite its splendor, Glendora is far from a Hollywood musical (literally about 35 miles give or take). Yet, there is one hallowed building where you’re not only free to belt out the showtune in your heart; you’re encouraged. Top Billing Entertainment has been the launching pad for many a Glendora songbird over the years. A proud “tetra threat” theater, Top Billing Entertainment trains students starting at three years of age in the arts of acting, singing, dancing, and instrumental performance. And it’s surprisingly serious business. 

Beyond Utah with Kristina Keener Ivy

The performance bug managed to find Top Billing Entertainment founder Kristina Keener Ivy at a young age, though she was nestled in a small Utah town. As a self-professed “studio kid”, she grew up dancing, competing on any platform she could find. But it wasn’t until her high school years that she began to take dance seriously, recognizing it could lead to a career. 

She followed her aspirations to the University of Utah where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Dance. But she was also quickly realizing that dance wasn’t the singular passion in her life. Like a light hitting a prism, Keener Ivy’s love of dance had been trisected into distinct longings for choreography, performance, and teaching. 

“It’s rare and lucky if you can do all of them,” she smiles wistfully when speaking to JohnHart Media. But not one to question her heart, she persisted in dancing forward. Her careers in performance and teaching took off simultaneously. 

Golden Years in the Golden State

The next decade passed in a blur of faces, some in the crowd, others in the classroom. But when the dust (and glitter) settled, Keener Ivy realized that the same joy she felt when performing was amplified tenfold when watching one of her students onstage. “I love teaching,” she admits with a contagious giddiness. “It’s the coolest thing ever.” 

By this point, Keener Ivy’s ambitions had whisked her far away from the pastoral landscapes of Utah. Her choreographed leap had landed her in California, a golden state of stars and glamor. But she was having trouble finding something that had always come so easily in the small towns where she’d grown up: community. That all changed when she found a charming building wreathed in gum trees in the serene village of Glendora. 

Glendora’s Top Billing Entertainment

Today, Top Billing Entertainment is known across Glendora and beyond for their numerous public performances at community events. “What I love most about teaching at Top Billing Entertainment is the community here,” Keener Ivy emphasizes. She notes that Glendora is one of those rare places in the world where a child can holler “I’m going to go get food” on their break, and you know their journey will be safe. “It’s a positive place for the children to grow up,” she echoes. 

Photo credit: Top Billing Entertainment

Keener Ivy and her team of over 20 instructors, many former students, show their appreciation for Glendora’s community through numerous live performances throughout the year. It seems Top Billing Entertainment punctuates every holiday, festival, or street fair that Glendora hosts. “We are giving arts away at this point,” Keener Ivy laughs. 

Tough Cookies

While there’s a lot of fun to be had at Top Billing Entertainment, it rarely comes easily. Keener Ivy will be the first to admit that she can be tough on performers for the greater good of the performance. But she describes the ideal student of Top Billing Entertainment as one with equal parts “grit and drive.” And while you may not immediately notice this when seeing the children between performances, Keener Ivy assures us in its each of them. “They’re tough cookies,” she proclaims proudly. 

And the interactions between teacher and student pay off if a Top Billing Entertainment performance is anything to go by. One need only consider Keener Ivy’s favorite production the studio has performed: The Wizard of Oz. “It was like a well-oiled machine which was mindblowing because they’re kids,” she recalls. “It should be a mess and it wasn’t!” 

Glendora Village: The Future of Art

Ultimately, Keener Ivy feels she learns just as much teaching at Top Billing Entertainment as she did as a student. “The children are leading us forward as much as we’re leading them,” she marvels. So, the next time you get locked out of tickets at the Pantages, consider a drive out to the Glendora Village. You may just get to see the future of theater, dance, and musical performance before anyone else. 

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