Ashley McQueen is originally from Montgomery, AL and began dancing with the Alabama Dance Theatre under Kitty Seale and Foye DuBose. She received training from Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theater, Mark Morris Dance Group, Paul Taylor Dance Company, and the Alabama Ballet. Ashley attended Birmingham-Southern College before transferring to Webster University and graduating with a BFA in Dance, Ballet Emphasis (with honors). While at Webster, Ashley performed works by Antony Tudor, Michael Uthoff, James Robey, Maurya Kerr, Kathy Diehl, Jennifer Huffman, and Omar Olivas. During the summer of 2013, Ashley studied in Thailand under the direction of Pichet Klunchun and Patravadi Mejudhon at Vic Hua Hin. There she performed excerpts from Klunchun’s “Black and White,” as well as her own choreography. Ashley choreographed works for Southern Danceworks, Alabama Dance Theatre and Arova Contemporary Ballet (where she danced professionally for a season in 2011). Ashley’s works have been performed at Southeast Regional Ballet Association Festival performances, St. Louis National Dance Week, and the American College Dance Festival. Ashley received the Monticello Award and full tuition scholarship to attend the National Choreography Intensive as both a dancer and choreographer; as well as a scholarship to the Glenda Brown Choreography Project. Ashley is a Guest Artist through Annonyarts for Spring 2014, and currently enjoying her first season with Common Thread!
Ellen Vierse graduated summa cum laude in 2012 from Texas Christian University (TCU) with a BFA in Modern Dance. While at TCU, Ellen performed choreography by Christian von Howard, Loretta Livingston, KT Niehoff, and Doris Humphrey. Her senior year, Ellen submitted a thesis presentation entitled, “The Relationship Between Personality and Career Preferences Among College-Trained Dancers,” which earned her the distinction of Departmental Honors in Dance. A native St. Louisan, Ellen received her early training from local dance artists Alicia Jonas, Lindsay Hawkins, and Jennifer Reilly. In addition, Ellen has worked intensively with Doug Varone, Michael Foley, Jon Lehrer, Alicia Graf Mack, and most recently, Uri Sands. Ellen currently teaches at Arts in Motion School of Dance & Movement and enjoys sharing her passion with the next generation of dancers. This is Ellen’s second season with Common Thread.
Christine E. Aumiller is originally from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where she received her dance training at Pennsylvania Regional Ballet under the direction of Sandra Carlino. After graduating from High School she went to New York on full scholarship at The Joffrey Ballet School. In 2007, she decided to broaden her training and attended SUNY Purchase College, graduating with her BFA in Dance Performance in May of 2011. After graduation she moved to Brooklyn and soon thereafter was offered a contract on Carnival Cruise Lines. From 2011-2013 she worked as a dancer on the seas. She moved to St. Louis in the fall of 2013, where she started working with Jen Medina and fell in love with the work and the Company. She is proud to be in her first season with Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company.
Sarah Starkweather was born and raised in Houston, Texas and has been dancing since the age of three. Sarah was trained in jazz, ballet, and gymnastics and has been a competitive dancer for Lake Houston Performing Arts Centre (formerly Kingwood Gymnastics and Dance Academy) and the Kingwood High School Fillies Dance Team, the latter of which she was an elite member and top officer. Sarah has won a number of solo performance awards and scholarships throughout New York, California, and Texas, and has choreographed national and internationally acclaimed competitive routines. Sarah has trained with the Houston Metropolitan Dance Company as well as at the EDGE Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles, California, and Pineapple Dance Studios in London, England, UK. She continued her training while pursing her BA in Psychology in San Antonio under the instruction of former Royal Ballet member, Ester Mayer, and former Cuban National Ballet members Ernesto and Katalina Quenedit while dancing with Implora Danza (formerly Human Beauty) and San Antonio Dance Fringe. Since moving to St. Louis in the fall of 2012, Sarah has had the pleasure of working with Ashleyliane Dance Company and coaching the dance teams at Francis Howell and Clayton High Schools, as well as teaching at DK Dance Productions in Florissant. Sarah also spent eight months working at Support Innovations, a nonprofit organization that provides daytime support to adults with developmental disabilities. Sarah is thrilled to be a member of Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company and pursue her love of dance!
Mary Virtue is a native of Saint Louis, and began her training at Dayspring School of the Arts. In 2010 Mary joined Common Thread and is thrilled to now be in her 4th year with the company. In addition to working with Jennifer Medina, Mary has performed in works by guest artists Tyrone Brooks, Jessica Lang, Uri Sands, Audra Sokol and Paula Weber. Mary has performed with aTrek, currently Leverage Dance Theater, and has attended summer intensives at Ballet Magnificat!, Kansas City Ballet, and Thodos Dance Chicago, working with several acclaimed artists including Michael Simms, Kathy Thibodeaux, Melissa Thodos, and Jiri Sebastian Voborsky. Ms. Virtue enjoys teaching dance throughout the St. Louis area. Mary greatly enjoys opportunities to dance in community settings and is a member of the dance ministry at the Gateway House of Prayer, where she has performed locally and on international outreaches. She is currently completing a degree in Dance at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Stephanie Morrow grew up dancing at MelRoe’s School of Dance in Independence and Liberty, Missouri. She received her BFA in Dance from the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri – Kansas City where she studied under Paula Weber, Mary Pat Henry, Ron Tice, Sabrina Madison-Cannon, DeeAnna Hiett, and Rodni Williams. She has performed works by Sabrina Madison-Cannon and Uri Sands, and has also performed with The Disability Project. She has choreographed for two ArtSounds shows in Kansas City, as well as productions of Scrooge and Oliver! The Musical with Blue Springs Community Theater. She feels very blessed to be dancing with Common Thread for another year.
Mariko Kumanomido is originally from St. Louis, MO. She began dancing at The Studio, Inc, then studied at Alexandra School of Ballet under Alexandra Zaharias. She attended Washington University in St. Louis for two years, where she studied dance with Christine O’Neal, Mary-Jean Cowell, David Marchant, and Cecil Slaughter, and finished her degree at University of Missouri-Kansas City, where she trained with Paula Weber, Jennifer Medina, and Michael Simms, earning her BFA in Dance. She moved to New York City, and received a Fellowship at the Ailey School. In New York she danced professionally with Buglisi Dance Theater, Jessica Danser/Dansfolk, and C.Eule Dance. In 2010-2011 she studied at the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance, training in Graham Technique, and completing the Graham Teacher Training Program, and performing with Graham II. While in NYC, she also taught beginning ballet and creative movement at Ballet Hispanico. She moved back to St. Louis to dance with Common Thread Contemporary Dance Co, under the direction of Jennifer Medina. She is currently teaching creative movement at St. Louis Ballet, and modern dance and ballet at COCA, and is adjunct faculty at UMSL, and has taught at Washington University and Webster University. She loves teaching and dancing, and is so happy that she can share her joy and love for dance with others. She is thankful for the love and support of family and friends.
R. Vance Baldwin is a native of St. Joseph, Missouri. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Education-Vocal Emphasis from Missouri Western State University, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is currently dancing for Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company and Karlovsky & Company Dance. He has had the opportunity to dance and/or choreograph with Modern American Dance Company, 940 Dance Company, Reach…a movement collective, inc., Robidoux Resident Theater, Shawnee Mission: The Theater in the Park, Eubank Productions, Creative Arts Production, and Thin Air Theatrics. He has also had the opportunity to work with artists such as Gina Patterson, Jennifer Archibald, Michael Foley, Michael Uthoff, and Mikey Thomas.
Laura Roth is a native of Jacksonville, IL and a summa cum laude graduate of Southeast Missouri State University where she earned a BA in Dance and a minor in Religious Studies. While attending Southeast, she danced with pH eXchange Dance Theatre under the direction of Philip Edgecombe and Hilary Peterson and choreographed multiple works for Southeast’s main stage productions. Laura has performed at 60×60 St. Louis, and at Dance St. Louis’s Spring to Dance, Dancing in the Street and National Dance Week festivals. Laura recently performed in ANNONYArts’s Drenched choreographed by fellow Common Thread company member Ashley McQueen and coordinated The Dance on Film Project, St. Louis, collecting dance on film work from local artists and presenting it at a public screening. She also teaches at STAGES Performing Arts Academy and choreographs community and high school musicals regionally. Laura is thrilled to be in her second season with Common Thread!
Lexi Panfil is originally from Olathe, Kansas and trained under Michele Hamlet-Weith and Maura Landers at Legacy School of the Arts where she studied on scholarship. In addition, Lexi spent summers at the Glenda Brown Choreography Project, Giordano Dance Chicago, and the Lou Conte Dance Studio. A transfer student from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Lexi is in her senior year of college at the University of Missouri-Saint Louis and will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in May 2015. While in college, she has had the opportunity to perform works choreographed by Ron Tice, DeeAnna Hiett, Sabrina Madison-Cannon, and Jennifer Medina. Currently, Lexi is in collaboration with the Fine Arts department at Incarnate Word Academy. Lexi is thrilled to be in her second season with Common Thread!
Laura Thompson is a native of St. Louis who has spent much of her life training in dance and gymnastics. She followed her passion for dance to California, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with her BA in Dance from California State University of Fullerton. While there, she performed and choreographed for several showcases and concerts. Her performances included ‘Corvidea’ by Colin Collins. Her emphasis in modern and ballet was combined with improvisation and composition. After college, she continued to pursue her dance career, traveling to and training in dance meccas such as Chicago and Los Angeles. In 2011 she had the pleasure of joining the Ashleyliane Dance Company, performing in shows such as Dancing in The Streets, Fair St. Louis, and Grand Center’s First Night. Currently she shares her love for jazz with her students at the St. Louis Ballet School. Laura joined Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company this past summer. She feels very fortunate to pursue her passions alongside this amazing company, while continuing to grow as an artist.
Gabriella Deakin is a native of Pittsburgh, PA where she trained at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School for 14 years completing their graduate program. She then pursued a Bachelor’s degree in dance from Point Park University graduating magna cum laude. While at Point Park she danced in such classic works as Agnes De Mille’s “Rodeo” and Balanchine’s “Raymonda.” Ms. Deakin’s professional career began as a guest artist with The Pillow Project Dance Company in Pittsburgh. She was then cast in the Twentieth Century Fox film “Love and Other Drugs” choreographed by Daniel Ezralow. Moving to St. Louis, MO she was a company dancer with Modern American Dance Company for two seasons performing works by Michael Uthoff, Cecil Slaughter and Michael Foley among others. Continuing her training she studied with The Big Muddy Dance Company performing with their Downtown Dance Center Performing Company. Gabriella is currently a company member with Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company and Karlovsky and Company Dance. She is very excited to begin this new chapter with Common Thread as their Director of Community Engagement Marketing.