Toneta Akers-Toler is a founding member and artistic director of West Virginia Dance Company (WVDC); the only professional touring dance company in West Virginia. Toneta’s awards include the 2005 WV Governor’s Arts Awards for “Excellence, the Arts” & 2011 for “Arts Education”, WV Women of the Year in the arts in 1999 and the National Association of Regional Ballet Award for Choreography in 1984. In 2019 Toneta was nominated for the Mid-Atlantic Foundation’s Alan Cooper Award and in 2021 Toneta was nominated for the prestigious NEA individual artist fellowship. Toneta has taught on WVDC tours extensively in WV as well as 14 other states and Brazil. She has served many positions at Theatre West Virginia such as dancer, actress, choreographer, and master teacher for Theatre WV since 1973. Toneta has served as teacher at the WV Governor’s Honors Academy since 2014. A magical time of dance for her was serving students at the Pineville Dance Theatre for 45 years. Toneta holds a dance degree from the Conservatory of Dance Point Park College, has three certifications from American Dance Festival held at Duke University and has a certification from the Dance Kinetic Institute in New York City.
Gerri Houlihan began her professional career at the Juilliard School, where she studied with Antony Tudor and members of the Martha Graham and José Limón dance companies. Professionally, she has performed with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet Company and Paul Sanasardo Dance Company and spent five years as a soloist with Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. From 1991 to 1999, she directed her own company in Miami. Houlihan joined the FSU faculty in 2007 and taught contemporary and ballet technique, Senior Seminar, Teaching Methods, and Composition. She has been a longtime faculty member at the American Dance Festival, where she served as Dean and is on the ADF Advisory Board. As an international representative for ADF, she has participated in 17 international linkage programs. Gerri is the recipient of ADF’s Balasaraswati/joy Anne Dewey Beinecke Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching and also the awarded the Florida State University’s Pearl S. Tyner Distinguished Professor in Teaching and was a Professor Emerita while on faculty. Currently, she teaches at the ADF studios in Durham and is the Artistic Director of the Big Red Dance Project. Many in the field of dance consider Gerri Houlihan as a mentor due to her talent that she shares so freely with total kindness to all that have the fortunate chance to experience dance with her!
Maureen Mansfield Kaddar is a dancer and educator originally from East Rockaway, New York. She holds degrees in dance and choreography, with honors, from Adelphi University (BFA) and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (MFA). A Paul Taylor Dance Company member from 1998-2003, Maureen can be seen as a featured cast member in Dancemaker, the Oscar-nominated film about Mr. Taylor. She has had the distinguished pleasure of setting Mr. Taylor’s works on companies and universities, among them, West Virginia University.
Maureen has also performed with the companies of Peter Pucci, Rebecca Kelly and Rebecca Stenn. She has taught dance and choreographed, nationally and abroad, as a guest artist at many university and college programs, including serving as Interim Director for Vassar College’s student dance company. Passionate about the power of building learning connections through movement, Maureen enjoyed teaching Arts Integration in the public schools of Morgantown through a WV state grant. Honored with the Adjunct Faculty Excellence Award in 2015 from WVU’s College of Creative Arts, Maureen is now a Teaching Assistant Professor in WVU’s School of Theatre and Dance.
Guest Artist and Choreographer – Donald Laney graduated from the University of California, Irvine, MFA in Dance. For 15 years he was a leading dance artist and Producing Artistic Director of the WV Dance Company. He currently is an Assistant Professor of the Department of Theatre & Dance at Western Illinois University. Donald’s modern dance choreography includes WVDC, James Madison University, Lees-McRae College, WV Wesleyan College, West Virginia University, Charleston Ballet, Beckley Dance Theatre, Trillium Performing Arts and Western Illinois University. Musical Theatre credits include Greenbrier Valley Theatre, Marshall University, WV Wesleyan College, Theatre WV, Davis & Elkins College, Cape Fear Regional Theatre and Iowa’s Clinton Showboat. Donald has served as the WV Governor’s School for the Arts instructor in dance and created choreography for the dance students, from 2005 to present. On March 16, 2023, his modern work “Innocence of the Siege” performed by his dance minors at Western Illinois had the honor of being selected to perform for the American College Dance Association’s North Central Regions Dance Gala. “Innocence of the Siege” was then selected as an alternate work for the national gala performance for the American College Dance Association.
Carli Mareneck holds a BFA in Dance from the University of Utah. As a founding member of Trillium Performing Arts Collective, based in Lewisburg, WV, she continues to broaden community involvement with modern dance through her teaching, choreography, and performances. Her work has been featured regionally and as a adjunct performer with the Dance Exchange in Washington,DC. Known for performance works that incorporate striking visual art through costuming and props Carli has been a featured choreographer for FestivALL in Charleston, WV and for the West Virginia Dance Company for over a decade.
In addition to her work as a dance professional Carli teaches workshops on Learning through the Arts and Mindfulness for public schools,conferences, and teacher trainings. She is a teaching artist for Carnegie Hall and recipient of the Mary B Nickell Grant for Arts and Education (2013-2017) and the Greenbrier County Health Alliance Grant since 2016. Carli remains an active and respected leader and teacher in West Virginia, valued for her integrity and commitment to promoting healthful living and creative expression through mindfulness and the arts.
Heather Taylor-Martin received her BA from Point Park College where she performed in many Pittsburgh Playhouse productions. Upon graduation she joined the West Virginia Dance Company under the direction of Toneta Akers-Toler. While dancing in New York Heather worked as a member of the Kitchen Sink Dance Company and performed with Nadia Tarr at the Brooklyn Lyceum. Recently Heather has performed with Attack Theatre and Pittsburgh Opera, and has also worked with Indiana University of Pennsylvania, PSAHPERD, and taught for the Dreamer’s Academy and Youngstown State University. Currently, Heather resides in Sewickley, PA with her family where she is a certified fitness instructor.
Originally from West Virginia, Dane graduated with a BFA in Dance from Point Park University, where he worked with numerous faculty members and guest artists, including Dawn Stoppiello of Troika Ranch and Doug Varone of Doug Varone and Dancers. He trained intensively with Toneta Akers-Toler, founder and artistic director of the West Virginia Dance Company (WVDC). Dane has spent 16 summers with Theatre West Virginia’s Outdoor Drama Company and has performed as a guest artist with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and the WVDC. Dane is a recipient of the 2017 BRAZZY Award, which recognizes two exceptional Pittsburgh dancers each year in honor of Leslie Anderson-Braswell. Dane has been a company member with Attack Theatre since 2008.