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Meet the Company

Artistic Directors

Ana Baer — Co-Director 

Christa Oliver — Co-Director

 


Performing Artists

Kaylee Woest

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Kaylee Woest is from the Houston area and has been dancing since the age of five. Woest danced with competitive company, Kingwood Jazz and Company, for 9 years where she trained in a variety of dance forms, such as Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Improv, Tap, Modern, Musical Theatre, and Lyrical. In addition, she was also given the opportunity to work with different choreographers and participate in dance conventions and festivals across the world. Kaylee started her college career at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she was a member of their dance team, Ragin Jazz. Now, she is a senior at Texas State University working towards her BFA degree in dance with an emphasis in performance and choreography and a minor in Business Administration.


Kali Reyna

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Kali Reyna, from Cypress, Texas, is currently a Junior at Texas State University. This is her second year with Merge Touring Ensemble, and she is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Performance and Choreography. Reyna began taking dance classes at age three and has trained at various studios in the Houston area. She competed with a competition team for her studio and then went on to serve as a Junior Lieutenant dance officer for the Cy-fair Brigade drill team where she was able to choreograph. She was also a part of a pre-professional performance company (Léon Dance Arts), under the direction of Dorrell Martin, where she had the opportunity to work with professional choreographers (Andrea Ward, Eddy Ocampo) and was able to perform their work at the Austin Dance Festival, Generation Dance Festival, and the Prelude for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Houston, Texas. She has taken many masterclasses and participated in dance intensives such as West Coast Dance Explosion, Dupree Dance, The Houston Metropolitan Summer Dance Intensive, New York City Dance Alliance, 24Seven Dance Convention, and Brandon Coleman’s Contemporary Dance Experience. Upon graduation, Kali hopes to choreograph and dance with a professional dance company along with opening a dance studio or company of her own where she can share her passion and love for dance with others.


Emily Mendoza

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Emily Mendoza is currently a senior pursuing a BFA degree in dance education. Mendoza was raised in Conroe, Texas where she began her untraditional route in dance, beginning as a competitive gymnast then eventually training in ballet and jazz. In high school, she joined the Conroe High School Golden Girls drill team where she became an elite company member and served as a senior lieutenant officer. Throughout her journey, Mendoza has had the privilege of working at a dance studio in the New Braunfels area teaching ages four and above. Last year, Emily was a company member of CIM TEYA where she had the privilege to travel and perform for hundreds of children. This year she will be joining Merge as a first-year member for the 2020-2021 academic school year. Upon graduation, Mendoza plans on sharing her passion for dance and teaching throughout Texas.


Arielle Mathis

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Arielle Mathis is originally from California but moved to Houston, Texas around age 5. She has been dancing for 15 years and has trained in a variety of dance styles. Mathis is currently a junior pursuing a BFA performance and choreography degree with a minor in mass communication. Her favorite styles of dance are modern, contemporary, and hip-hop. Throughout her career, she has done competitive studio dance as well as drill team in high school and held the titles of Junior Lieutenant and Lieutenant Colonel on the varsity dance team. Additionally, she enjoys the choreographic process and finding/learning new ways of moving. This is Arielle’s first year on Merge and she is excited about what this year has to offer. 


Ilse M. Mascorro

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Originally from Brownsville, Texas, Ilse M. Mascorro has practiced dance for 18 years now. She has obtained most of her dance training in Mexico. From ages three through 12, she trained in studios where she learned ballet, jazz, and tap. She then auditioned for a contemporary company — named Ballet de Cámara de Matamoros — at the age of 12 and made it into the company’s academy. She was inducted into the company at the age of fourteen and traveled the Mexican Republic with them. Since then, Ilse has made dance her pursued profession. The dance techniques that she enjoys practicing the most are contemporary dance, tap, and ballet. This is her third year at Texas State University where she is continuing to pursue her BFA in Performance and Choreography with a minor in Spanish. After graduation, Ilse plans on gaining as much contemporary dance experience as she can in places like Dublin, Berlin, and Prauge alongside the Diverse Space Dance Studio (DSDT) — an Austin-based company under, Toni Bravo. She hopes to eventually earn her Masters and become a professor of dance. In the Dance Division, she has been part of Harambee, CIM TEYA, and now — for the first time — Merge.


Ashley Kwasna

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Ashley Kwasna is currently a sophomore at Texas State University from San Antonio, Texas. She is a dance major with an emphasis in Performance and Choreography as well as a minor in business. She has been dancing since she was three years old, training in Ballet, Contemporary, Jazz, Pointe, Hip Hop, Lyrical, Modern, Tap, Flamenco, Musical Theatre, Folklorico, Ballroom, and Improvisation. Growing up dancing, she started competing at many conventions such as New York City Dance Alliance, 24Seven Dance Convention, West Coast Dance Explosion, Nuvo Dance Convention, Jump Dance Convention, DanceMakers Inc., Velocity Dance Convention, and Radix Dance Convention. While competing at these dance conventions, she received various awards and scholarships. She also had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, and Dallas to train with the Joffrey Ballet School for four summers on a full scholarship. She went on to be a member of the O’Connor Dance team and served as Co-Captain her senior year. She was also on ShowMakers of America Dance staff, which allowed her to teach students in middle school and high school. Ashley has also choreographed over thirty solos and group routines that have received numerous awards. Upon graduating from Texas State, she hopes to open her very own dance studio.


Alexia Henry

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Alexia Henry was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana but moved to Georgia where she began dancing at the age of 6. She has trained in the forms of ballet, jazz, pointe, hip hop, lyrical, and contemporary at a competitive level. At the age of 15, Alexia moved to Texas where she continued her competitive dance career. During her junior year in high school, Alexia became a part of her high school drill team. A year later, she served as 1st Lieutenant for her dance team. To begin her college career, Alexia spent two years as a World-Famous Texas State Strutter under the direction of Tammy Fife. Being a Strutter has given her many performance opportunities such as performing for the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and ShowMakers of America. Alexia is a junior this year and this is her first year on Merge. She is pursuing a major in dance with a minor in psychology. Alexia hopes to dance professionally all over the world and someday own a dance therapy studio.


Mackenzie Grumbles

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Mackenzie Grumbles, a senior at Texas State, grew up in Fredericksburg Texas, and participated in almost every extra circulative outside of school possible. She loved competing and dancing with Fredericksburg Dance Company from the very young age of four. She also performed often with her local theater putting on shows such as Wizard of Oz and Oklahoma. In high school, Mackenzie performed in the varsity choir, with varsity cheer, in the marching band, and was captain of the Red Hotts Dance team. Grumbles started teaching at FDC and the theater company getting to start practicing her choreography skills. She fell in love with creating a movement that other dancers could perform that she could call her own creation. From here on out, Mackenzie tried to find any and all opportunities to dance and create dance such as attending JUMP dance convention, performing with the San Diego Ballet, and traveling abroad to France for a year to attend school and a local studio. After returning from abroad, Mackenzie began to attend Texas State University as a Dance BFA Performance and Choreography major and a Health and Fitness Management major with a Business minor. Involving herself with health clubs, and dance groups such as IBA, Orchesis, and Merge, Mackenzie has only continued to learn more about her own movement and explore new ways to create choreography. She is so excited to expand her knowledge by being a returning Merge member.


Alexus Galeana

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Alexus Galeana is a sophomore at Texas State University where she is currently working towards her BFA in dance with an emphasis on performance and choreography. She has been dancing since she was three years old and since then studied ballet, jazz, modern, hip hop, tap, and even some tumbling at Kathy Marfin’s dance school in San Antonio Texas. She competed with her studio at local competitions for seven years and won a few titles. During Alexus’s last year at her studio, she had the pleasure of teaching three to ten-year-olds. Teaching really helped her dive deeper into her knowledge of dance. Alexus has attended many conventions over the years and some summer intensives to further her growth. Last year she had the pleasure of being in Merge and got to work with amazing choreographers from all over which helped her uncover an entirely different dancer than she was before attending Texas State. Her goal is to join a modern company and travel the world doing what she loves most. Teaching and choreographing are also a huge passion that Alexus has and wishes to do at some point in her life so she can share all her knowledge and experience.


Holly Bowling

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Holly Bowling is a sophomore from the DFW area that has been dancing for seventeen years. Throughout her journey, she has trained at several dance studios. She began training at Melba’s School of Dance (2002-2008) when living in McAllen, TX, then Ballet Conservatory (2008-2014) in Highland Village, and lastly Paragon Dance Center (2016-2018) when settled in Carrollton. Bowling is trained in many styles such as ballet, tap, jazz, modern, hip hop, and musical theater. In high school, she joined the Hebron Silver Wings drill team. There, Holly served as Sophomore Lieutenant, Junior Lieutenant, and Captain her senior year. After high school, she was accepted into Texas State University, where she is currently pursuing a BFA in dance with a concentration in Performance and Choreography. While at Texas State, she decided to join The World-Famous Texas State Strutters her freshman year. After a year on Strutters, she later decided to retire from drill team and move on to the next chapter of her life. This will be Bowling’s first year on Merge and she is beyond excited for this upcoming year!
 

Photography by Ana Baer and Sophia Baer


Assistant Manager

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Kailyn Goodman — Assistant Manager

 

Kailyn Goodman is an award-winning dancer and choreographer from Huntsville, Texas. She began dancing at the age of 12 at Hot on Your Heels Dance Productions. After dancing at HOYHDP she later went off to join the Huntsville High School Grandier Guard Drill Team where she served as Lieutenant her Junior year and Lieutenant Colonel Senior year. Goodman is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in Dance Studies and a minor in Business Administration at Texas State University. Within the past few years, she has had the opportunity to take classes from Bobby Newberry, Torrance Johnson, Dana Molina, Matt Steffanina, and Jaimie Goodwin to name a few. Furthermore, she has competed for companies Dance Showcase USA, Showstoppers, JUMP Dance, American Drill Team, and many more. She is currently a part of the World-Famous Texas State Strutters, which she has been a part of for the past three years. While on Strutters, she has joined the Jazz Elite and Pom squad, which allows her to perform at multiple basketball and football games for the Texas State Bobcats. Recently, she performed on the Liberty of the Seas cruise, Dallas Mavericks Half Time show, and Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City with Strutters. Strutters have allowed her to perform in New York City, overseas, Orlando, Florida, and many other places. To add, she will be assisting with Merge Touring Ensemble for the 2020-2021 academic school year! Goodman is currently working on her final year of college and plans on receiving her degree in the Summer of 2021! 


Select Performance

a dance about pineapple

"People of the Pineapple" by Michelle Nance