Founder/Managing Artistic Director/Choreographer
Toneta is the Founder and Co-Artistic Director of West Virginia’s only professional touring dance company in the history of the state. Toneta’s awards include the 2005 WV Governor’s Arts Award for “Excellence in the Arts,” WV Woman of the year in 1989 by the WV Women’s Commission and the WV Federation of Women’s Clubs, and Monticello Scholarship for Choreography from the National Association of Regional Ballet. Toneta has served as Choreographer and Master Teacher for Theatre West Virginia since 1983. WVDC was chosen for the National Endowment – WV Commission on the Arts pilot project, Arts in the Classroom which involved an eighty-eight school tour. 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 Arts Event in 2002.”
Toneta graduated from Point Park University in 1977 where she studied with and became friends with Leonide Massine who greatly influenced her ambitions to become a choreographer. While at Point Park, she trained in ballet with Edward Caton, Graham with Judith Leifer and Luigi jazz technique with Ron Tassone.
Her studies at Point Park included theatre and acting training from Tom Thomas, Jim Prescott, Cecil Kitkat and Alan Clarey. 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’s six weeks training program for three summers. 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 Varrone.
She has taught workshops on many WVDC tours throughout West Virginia as well as 13 other states and Brazil. Toneta has been the master teacher for the WV Fine Arts Teachers Academy and has been both a master teacher and performer at the WV Governor’s Honors Academy.
Producing Artistic Director/Tour Manager/Dancer/Choreographer
Donald graduated from the University of California, Irvine, with his MFA in dance in 2004. Before entering the graduate program at UCI, Donald performed with the West Virginia Dance Company, Houlihan & Dancers (Miami, FL), Randy James Dance Worx (NYC), and X-Factor (NC), with many guest appearances throughout the Mid-Atlantic states.
While attending UCI, he had the opportunity to perform for Donald McKayle, Loretta Livingston, Lisa Naugle, and Christine Chrest, as well as presenting his own choreography which was chosen to represent UCI at ACDFA in 2003 and 2004. Donald’s work with Lisa Naugle and John Crawford has produced three dance videos that have been presented at the Lincoln Center and in dance video conferences in Yugoslavia, Japan, New Jersey, Michigan, Arizona, and at the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC.
Donald has taught at Wesleyan College, James Madison University, UCI, Lees-McRae College, ACDFA-Southwest region and at many regional events. Since the summer of 2005, he has been the modern dance instructor at the WV Governor’s School of the Arts.
Brandon Woods – Dancer
Brandon started dance training at Glenn High School under Layla Gaddy where he performed 3 years of seasonal performances and also played The Nutcracker in The Nutcracker for 2 years and the Buddha in the The Buddha Ballet. He trained with Positive Image Performing Arts studio for 3 months where he learned hip hop and ballet. Brandon later taught ballet at Positive Image in 2012. He transferred to UNC School of the Arts in 2009 to finish his High School Education with a concentration in contemporary dance. While there, he trained with Duane Cyrus and served as apprentice with Cyrus Arts Productions and performed Vital Grace; The Black Male Dancer, and Spirituals. He was featured in the play Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope, and Black Nativity with the North Carolina Black Reperatory Company in the Black Theatre Arts Festival in Winston Salem,NC. He also trained for 4 years at UNC School of the Arts where he was featured in performances by Eric Orbedorff, Sean Sullivan, Trish Casey, Zane Booker, and many others. Brandon just completed first season with the Theatre of West Virginia, performing Hatfield’s & McCoy’s, Honey in the Rock, The Wizard of Oz, and Rocket Boys. This is his first season with the WVDC.
Caitlin Potosnak – Dancer
Caitlin Potosnak graduated from Radford University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance and a minor in Exercise Science. During her years at Radford, she had wonderful opportunities to work with Keith Lee, Christopher K. Morgan, Nick Cave, and be an apprentice dancer with d a n a h b e l l a danceworks. Caitlin was awarded 1st place at the Virginia/North Carolina regional choreography competition held by the National Society of Arts and Letters organization. She has also attended summer intensives studying with the Limon Dance Company, Amy Marshall Dance Company, and the Radio City Rockettes. She had the privilege to perform with the Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company during their 25th anniversary celebration and in New Jersey Ballet’s Nutcracker. Caitlin is also a willPower & grace® fitness instructor, a certified Pilates instructor specifically trained in mat and reformer work, and a National Academy of Sports Medicine-certified personal trainer. This is her second season with WVDC.
Hilary Freeland – Dancer
Hilary J. Freeland is a graduate of the University at Buffalo with a BA in Dance. She is also working with Trillium School for Performing Arts in Lewisburg, WV and Academy of Arts At January’s in Charleston, WV. She has worked with Theatre West Virginia as a featured dancer, dance captain, and choreographic assistant. She has choreographed for Theatre West Virginia in Beckley, WV, The Strand Community Theatre in Moundsville, WV, Clay County High School in Clay, WV and Academy of Theatre Arts, a children’s acting company in Buffalo, NY. Hilary has studied with Doug Varone and Dancers, Leher Dance Company of Buffalo, NY, Daniel Sharone, and Jennifer Archibald. She has attended Bates Dance Festival in Lewiston, ME and Point Park University International Summer Dance Program in Pittsburgh, PA. Hilary has performed with UB Zodique Dance Ensemble, UB Emerging Choreographers Showcase, and Saya Woolfalk: No Place – Life Art Performance – Museum Space of Harlem, NY. This is Hilary’s third season with WVDC.
Nicki Shackleford – Dancer
A Washington DC native, Nicki has performed, taught, and choreographed in the District, Maryland, and Virginia. She is a 2013 graduate of Radford University, where she earned both a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance Performance and a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science. During her time at Radford, she had many wonderful opportunities to perform modern, ballet, and jazz works. Highlights include performing in the Gala Concert of the American College Dance Festival at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and performing choreography by Bob Boross at the New York Jazz Choreography Project and the Choreographer’s Canvas in New York City. She trained extensively in dance at the Washington School of Ballet, spending summers at intensives with the Orlando Ballet, Burklyn Ballet Theatre, Susan Jaffe’s Princeton Dance and Theatre, and the Virginia Governor’s School for Visual & Performing Arts. Nicki has recently begun working with Broadway Bound International Dance & Theatre Conventions, where she assists renowned choreographers Lisa Stevens, Heidi Ford, and Richard J. Hinds. Nicki began working with Toneta Akers-Toler as the dance captain for The Wizard of Oz and Rocket Boys the Musical at Theatre West Virginia. This is her first season with WVDC.
Sean Miller - Dancer
A Charles Town, WV native, Sean began his dance training at New Hopewell Center for the Arts in Kearneysville, WV. With NHCA, Sean was fortunate enough to perform in the International Dance Festival-NYC in 2005, 2006 and 2007. During the summers of 2005 and 2006, Sean attended Point Park University’s International Summer Dance program. Following his high school graduation, Sean trained in the Dance & Choreography program at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. In the fall of 2010, Sean transferred to Shenandoah University where he continued his studies in Dance Performance & Choreography with faculty members Linda Miller, Erica Helm, Ting-Yu Chen, Maurice Fraga, Alan Arnett & Elijah Gibson. While attending Shenandoah, Sean performed in a number of faculty choreographed works and served as the Treasurer for Sigma Rho Delta, the National Dance Fraternity at Shenandoah. He also participated in the American College Dance Festival Associations regional conference 2011 and 2012. In the summer of 2012, he attended the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC where he studied under notable faculty including Elisa Clark, Roger Belman, Pam Pietro, and Amanda K Miller. Most recently, in October of 2012, Sean performed with kittyclarkmoves/Goose Route Arts Collaborative in the site-specific piece House…Hospital…Headquarters…Home: A Dance for Pry House. Sean is currently a guest instructor and choreographer for Washington High School’s Synergy Dance Ensemble for which he choreographed Methods, which was adjudicated into the Regional High School Dance Festivals informal concert this past March in Norfolk, VA.
Thomas A. McNeish, Jr.
Robert C. Dunkerley
Delegate Linda S. Sumner