Webster University’s Department of Dance Presents Verdant, a Bachelor of Fine Arts Choreographic Concert

Verdant dancers pose with stone arch background.

Webster University’s Department of Dance presents Verdant, a concert showcasing the work of BFA candidates Faith Carson, Megan Haberberger, Taylor Hill, and Ashley Mason and BA candidates Marlee Doniff and Mylan Wray. The performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday Oct. 5 and Friday, Oct. 6, and at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7 at Stage III, located on the lower level of Webster Hall at 470 East Lockwood Avenue.  
Carson, a native of metro-east Saint Louis, has been dancing since age two. During her time at Webster, she has been involved in Webster University Dance Ensemble, BFA productions, Creations Concerts, and more. Carson appreciates opportunities to fuse her passions of music, dance, and multimedia technology in her work and is grateful for all she has learned from the exceptional instructors, choreographers, and artists at Webster. 
Carson shared a bit about her artistic style, saying, “My pieces explore concepts from both internal and external sources present when one takes the time to notice the subtleties that reside in the world around them. In my works, one can observe themes of the universal rhythms and patterns that reside in creation, the internal need to reestablish normalcy after disturbances upset our fragile equilibrium, and the body’s natural response to stress. Also of interest to me is the concept of past, present, and future versions of ourselves, lived abstraction, and the unseen potential that lies within each of us. Each person may have their own interpretation of my work depending on their unique viewpoint and life circumstances and I encourage the individuality that emerges when observing art from multiple perspectives.” 
Haberberger hails from Franklin County, MO. Growing up, she was involved in both acrobatic gymnastics and dance. During her time at Webster, she has enjoyed the opportunity to work through many of her different passions in studying dance, aerial, and photography. After graduation, Haberberger looks forward to continuing to perform and growing as an artist. 
“My pieces stem from an artistic exploration of emotion, reaction, and impact,” said Haberberger. “In the creation process, I have drawn inspiration from examining how fundamental aspects of human nature correlate with different outside forces that affect one’s behavior. I am interested in the connections we create as we share in life’s journey, continuously striving towards a state of fulfillment within ourselves.” 
Hill is a native of St. Louis and has been dancing since the age of 10. Through her journey at Webster, she has come into her movement style through a range of experiences in improvisation and composition. Taylor is excited to pursue both concert and commercial dance after graduation. 
“My works explore the ins and outs of societal standards,” Hill shared. “My pieces follow the lineage of love, discussion of loss, and the stigmas of dealing with mental health and the aspects of being a young person in society. I drew inspiration not only from my own experiences but from the people around me as I feel they should be highlighted and celebrated. I was also interested in dissecting the inner workings of how we as people connect on a deeper emotional and even spiritual level.” 

Verdant dancers pose with one another.
Mason is a self-taught dancer from St. Louis. While at Webster, she has been able to find herself and grow as an artist. She is grateful for the opportunity she has been given to pursue her passions and thanks her instructors. Mason is excited to pursue opportunities to perform and choreograph after she graduates this December. 
“I am inspired by the beauty and mystery of cycles in life,” Mason explained. “My pieces reflect simplicity and minimalism, rhythm/polyrhythms, flow, intention, and authenticity.”  
Doniff is a BA in Dance candidate who will perform her self-choreographed solo in the BFA Concert. During her time at Webster, she has been able to spread her wings and explore her individual movement vocabulary. She is very excited to see how the knowledge she has gained can aid her as she continues her journey in dance. 
“This work explores temptation and control through our relationship to vices,” Doniff explained. “How much power do we allow vices to have over us and what emotions arise from these complicated relationships? I am interested in the reckoning, pleasure, and guilt of addiction and the complexities of the tether that pulls one back time after time.” 
BA in Dance candidate Wray will perform her self-choreographed solo in the concert. In addition to dance, she is pursuing a double minor in Biology and General Science. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school for physical therapy beginning in the fall of 2024. She is excited to merge her two passions as she forges her future. 
“My piece focuses on personal identity through exploration around social constructs that may restrain multifaceted individuals from fitting into a societal norm,” Wray stated. “Though my dance is a personal exploration, I reveal what I believe to be a universal truth about the human condition and recognize differences in the connection between left and right-brain thinking. This layered idea of restraint is built in the concept of the right and left cerebral hemispheres of the human brain that partition our human characteristics in how we perceive the world and often how we are perceived by others.” 
Tickets to Verdant can be purchased online, although admission is free for Webster students, faculty, and staff. For more information about the performances or to learn more about the Department of Dance, call the Webster University Fine Arts Hotline at (314) 968-7128, email dance@webster.edu, or visit the department website at www.webster.edu/dance

Verdant performers pose.
Choreographer Bios: 
Faith Carson began her dance training at two years old with Tomi Pollock at a local studio in her hometown of Troy, Illinois. Since 2008, she has had the pleasure of training under the tutelage of Dianna Andrews-Gaither, Loryl Breitenbach, (both Webster alumni) Gwen Meeker, and many other knowledgeable instructors at Turning Pointe Dance Academy in Maryville, Illinois. Since embarking on her studies at Webster University in 2020, she has had the great honor of learning from exceptional instructors such as Maggi Dueker, Beckah Reed, Xi Zhao, Michael Uthoff, Jen Welch-Cudnik, Betsy Brandt, Jan Cosby, and more. Additionally, she has had the unique privilege of working closely with Zlatko Ćosić, learning how to fuse multimedia with dance, including creating dance films, editing, producing, projecting, project mapping, and audio recording. Faith has also co-produced two of Webster University’s Creations Concerts and assisted other artists outside of dance to be able to participate in the concert. She has performed in many local studio choreographic showcases, Food for Dance, Jehovah’s Witnesses International Convention Evening Gatherings, BFA Concerts, WUDE, Creations Concerts, works with Tour Dance Company, and more. Faith received supplemental training through summer intensives with Grand Rapids Ballet, Turning Pointe Dance Academy, Big Muddy Dance Company, and Webster University as well as Webster Dance Winter Workshops, and a master class with Savion Glover. Faith embraces the great joy of teaching, producing to date seven annual dance recitals both virtually and in-person, and setting original choreographic works on her students. Additionally, Faith also enjoys spending time each month performing volunteer work. Upon graduation, she will receive a BFA in Dance with an emphasis in ballet. 
Megan Haberberger grew up in rural Franklin County, MO, just outside of St. Louis, under the pre-professional tutelage of numerous educators at Villa West Dance & Acrobatics. She trained in multiple styles and competed for Dance Masters of America, Chapter #21, and USA Gymnastics, Region 4. While attending Webster University, Megan has had the opportunity to perform works by Monica Newsam, Michael Uthoff, Maggi Dueker, Ashley McQueen, José Limón, and Ramón Oller through Ballet Hispánico. In addition to performances in the Webster University Dance Ensemble Concerts, Megan has performed in the Creations Concerts, BFA Concerts, American College Dance Association Regional Conferences, Aerial Dance Reimagined, and has trained with Dance Kaleidoscope and Newsam Aerial Dance. Upon graduation, she will receive a BFA in Dance with an emphasis in ballet. 
Taylor Hill, a native of St. Louis, began her dance career at Best Dance and Talent Center under the direction of Mrs. Judy Best-Person. While attending Webster University, Taylor has worked with artists such as Tayler Kinner, Dawn Karlovsky, Mariko Kumanomido, Betsy Brandt, Beckah Reed, Xi Zhao, and Maggi Dueker in classwork. Taylor has also performed a work by Abby Z and the New Utility under the direction of Fiona Lundie and Benjamin Roach in the Webster University Dance Ensemble. Her other Webster performances include BFA Concerts, New Works Concerts, and a self-choreographed work in the Creations Concert. Also, during the summer of 2021, she was privileged to perform in the KP Project, founded by Kameron Saunders and Prince Lyons. Upon graduation, she will receive a BFA in Dance with an emphasis in modern. 
Ashley Mason is a native of St. Louis, Missouri who joined the Webster University Department of Dance in 2019. Ashley is a self-taught dancer who learns through discovery and from others within the dance community. While attending Webster, she had the opportunity to work with artists such as Dawn Karlovsky, Michael Uthoff, Xi Zhao, and Maggi Dueker through class and performances with the Webster University Dance Ensemble. In addition, Ashley has performed in the BFA Concerts, the Chinese Cultural Dance Event, and the American College Dance Association Regional Conference in Wisconsin. Upon graduation, she will earn a BFA in Dance, with an emphasis in modern in December 2023. 
Marlee Doniff has been dancing for the past two decades. Her relationship to the art form manifests in many ways — education, performance, choreography, and arts administration. Her training began under Sydnee Reese, Julie Durham, LeeAnn Melchor, Ashley Hamann, Tara Cacciatore, and many more. During her time at Webster, she has had the opportunity to learn from amazing professors who have expanded her movement vocabulary, aided in the development of her choreographic voice, and seen her fully. This past summer, Marlee worked as an intern at the American Dance Festival where she was immersed in a community that both deepened and expanded her love for dance. She hopes to spread her passion for dance through her work as a dance educator at Imagine Dance Project and Consuming Kinetics Dance Company. Marlee is curious about creating authentic, vulnerable, bold movement and exploring the ways the body processes. She is eager to keep learning, and dancing, after graduating in December with a BA in Dance. 
Mylan Wray, originally from Colorado Springs and Chicago, began her dance experience at Arts Immersion Dance program and attended workshops and programs with Hubbard Street Dance, Cleo Parker Robinson, American College Dance Regional Conference, and Colorado Dance Education Organization (CoDEO), where she received recognition and scholarships in 2017 and 2018. During her time at Webster, she has had the privilege of performing in pieces by Tyne Shillingford, Prince Lyons, and Dawn Karlovsky. Outside Webster Dance, Mylan Wray is a double minor in Biology and General Science with plans to pursue a Doctor of Physical Therapy in graduate school beginning in Fall 2024. She has worked at orthopedic outpatient facilities, participating in internships with 360 Physical Therapy, and is currently employed as a physical therapist technician at Axes Physical Therapy. Upon graduation, she will receive a BA in Dance, with a double minor in Biology and General Science. Mylan Wray looks forward to furthering her passion and connection with dance and physical therapy in graduate school. 

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