Toneta Akers-Toler

Founder/Managing Artistic Director/Choreographer

Founder/Managing Artistic Director/Choreographer The WVDC is 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 2021 Toneta was nominated for the prestigious NEA individual artist fellowship. Toneta was nominated by the state of West Virginia for the mid-Atlantic Alan Cooper Leadership in the Arts Award in 2019. Toneta has taught on WVDC tours extensively in WV as well as 14 other states and Brazil. She has served as dancer, actress, choreographer and master teacher for Theatre WV since 1973. Toneta has been a teaching professor for 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.

Her premiere dance presentation of the Glass Menagerie with the Greenbrier Valley Theatre through the Challenge America Grant by the National Endowment for the Arts and the WV Commission on the Arts was listed in the Charleston Gazette as “The Best WV Arts Event in 2002.” Toneta graduated from the Conservatory of the Arts at Point Park College in 1977 where she studied with and became friends with Leonide Massine who greatly influenced her ambitions to become a choreographer.

Toneta continued her studies in New York City at Alvin Ailey’s American Dance Center where she was demonstrator for Hector Mercado’s jazz class, received a certificate from Gelabert’s Dance Kinetic Institute, studied with Pearl Lang and others at the Martha Graham School, ballet with David Howard and Finis Jhung among many other daily classes. Toneta attended the American Dance Festival for three summers where she studied intensely with Betty Jones for eighteen weeks.

Other studies that have greatly influenced her work were Anna Sokolow, Lucas Hoving, Daniel Nagrin, Stuart Hodes, Gerri Houlihan and Doug Varone. She has taught workshops on many WVDC tours throughout West Virginia as well as 13 other states and Brazil. Toneta has been a master teacher at the WV Governor’s School for the Arts and on the faculty of the WV Governor’s Honors Academy.