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Meet the Company

Artistic Directors

Ana Baer - Co-Director 

Christa Oliver - Co-Director


Performing Artists

Sara Denman

Boy smiling

Sara Denman was raised in Garland, Texas where she began dancing at the age of 3. She has trained in the forms of ballet, tap, jazz, pointe, modern, hip hop, lyrical, and contemporary. To begin her college career, she spent two years as a World Famous Kilgore College Rangerette on the 77th line under the direction of Dana Blair and Shelley Wayne. In her sophomore year at Kilgore, Sara served as the Captain of the Kilgore College Rangerettes. Being a Rangerette has given her multiple performance opportunities regionally and across the world such as Hawaii, New York, Florida, Switzerland, etc. To conclude her time at Kilgore, she graduated with an Associates of Fine Arts. Sara is a senior this year and this is her first year on Merge. She has enjoyed her time at Texas State and is excited for the rest of the year ahead. She is an education major and will graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts along with a certification to teach dance in public schools. Sara has a passion for the art of dance, choreography and teaching and is eager to explore dance opportunities after she graduates from Texas State. 

Erin Ellis

girl smiling

Raised in Austin, Texas, Erin Ellis began taking dance at the age of three. Growing up in local studios, she started competing and attending conventions. In highschool Erin became involved in the Bowie Dance Company along with the schools drill team. She was a member, jazz company performer, and senior lieutenant of the James Bowie High School Silver stars.  After continuing to dance and compete through high school, Erin realized that she wanted to continue dancing in college, so she auditioned for the Kilgore College Rangerettes. After being selected for the team, Erin was given many incredible performance opportunities, including the Cotton Bowl Classic, opening the State Fair of Texas, the Contest of Champions in Orlando, Florida, Houston Texans NFL game halftime, participating in the 75th commemoration of the attack of Pearl Harbor, the 90th anniversary of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and Rangerette Revels. She was also a swingster and Revels soloist. While in Kilgore Erin received her Associates of Arts. She was the Vice President of the Kilgore College Dance Department Dance Club, and a member of the departments modern company, Industry. In 2017 she began working for Marching Auxiliaries Dance Camps and Competitions. She is currently working on receiving her Bachelor's in Dance Education at Texas State University, and teaching at various studios in the greater Austin area.

Alexus Galeana

Alexus Galeana is a freshman at Texas State University where she is currently working towards her BFA in dance with an emphasis in 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 attended many conventions over the years and some summer intensives to further her growth. Her ultimately goal is to join a modern company and travel with them as long as she can and then teach and choreograph at a studio where she can share all of her knowledge.

Brennah Galvin

Brennah Galvin is a dancer, teacher and choreographer from Round Rock, Texas. She is a senior honors BFA Performance and Choreography major with minors in Mass Communication and Theatre at Texas State University. At Texas State, she was a member of Orchesis Dance Company as well as Merge Dance Company, where she was able to train with various choreographers from around the world. She has taught around the state at local studios and master classes as well as choreographed for local musicals. She has trained for 19 years in ballet, tap, jazz, musical theatre, hiphop, contemporary, improv, modern, and theatre performance. Brennah has additionally trained at conventions such as ACDA, Soulescape, 24/7 dance, and The Streetz as well as trained nationally and internationally in New York, California, and England. Brennah is working to build a career in commercial dance as well as production management with hopes to continue her international performance opportunities. 

Mark Gonzalez

Mark Gonzalez is a dancer, teacher and award winning choreographer born and raised in Edinburg, Texas. He is currently a senior at Texas State University, pursuing a BFA in Dance with an emphasis in Performance and Choreography. He began dancing by competing with his high school Color Guard team at the national level through circuits such as Winter Guard International. Mark has trained the past 5 years in Modern, Contemporary, Jazz, Musical Theatre Dance, Ballet and Folklorico, and is a third-year member of Merge Dance Company. During his college career, Mark has had the privilege to perform at conventions and festivals such as American College Dance Association, Texas Dance Educators Association, Footprint Dance Festival in London, England and COCO Dance Festival in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. After college, Mark plans to perform professionally and eventually earn his MFA in Choreography. Mark plans to make his life’s work revolved around choreographing pieces regarding the LGBT community. Mark hopes to inspire others through dance, and is a firm believer in the power of passion and hard work.

Dawson Graham

Dawson Graham is a BFA Dance Major with emphasis in Performance and Choreography and a Theatre Minor as part of the TXST ’21 graduating class. This is Dawson’s first year with Merge, having previously danced with the Orchesis and IBA Dance Companies on campus. Dawson is also the Executive Artistic Director of Bobcat Dance Theatre, a new dance company in the TXST Dance Department. Dawson grew up in the DFW area with a love for dancing, acting, and performing. Some memorable works include West Side Story, Guys and Dolls, All Shook Up, Starlight Express, and The Pirate Queen, for which Dawson was awarded the Chita Rivera Dance Award by the DFW Column. Dawson hopes to continue his work in dance, by learning, performing, choreographing, teaching, and sharing around the world. Dawson is currently represented by the Acclaim Talent Agency of Austin (

Mackenzie Grumbles

Mackenzie Grumbles grew up in Fredericksburg Texas and participated in almost every extra circulative 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. She started teaching at FDC and the theater company getting to start practicing her choreography skills. She fell in love with creating 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 back from her school year 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, SNO, 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. 

Nakenya Minnieweather

Nakenya Minnieweather is a 21 year old dancer from Dallas, Texas. She started dancing at the age of eight with Beyond Belief Dance Company in Mesquite, Texas. She danced competitively until her senior year of high school, training in styles such as Jazz, HipHop, Lyrical, Contemporary, Modern, and Ballet. In middle school, she began training in competitive gymnastics and cheer, continuing this training until she graduated high school. Nakenya began her dance studies at Texas State in the fall of 2016. During her college career, Nakenya has had the privilege to perform in the US Festival in Bedford, England (twice) and in conferences at Texas Tech University. Nakenya has choreographed solos for the Black Excellence Pageant at Texas State and pieces for other pageants as well. She also had the privilege to perform in past-years’ BFA Showcase. Upon her graduation next May, Nakenya hopes to move to LA, dance professionally, and own her very own dance studio.

Kali Reyna

Kali Reyna is currently a Sophomore at Texas State University from Cypress, Texas and is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Performance and Choreography. She began taking dance classes at age 3 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 apart of a pre-professional performance company known as Léon Dance Arts under the direction of Dorrell Martin, where she had many opportunities 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 also taken many master classes and participated in many 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 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. 

Michela Short

Michela is a sophomore dance major with a focus on getting her teacher certification. She has been training in dance since the age of six. Her dance journey began in the small town of Victoria, Texas where she trained at Busby Dancenter and was a member of the Victoria Ballet Theatre company. As a member of this company she was able to attend Regional Dance America festivals and train under renowned choreographers such as Thom Clower, Lauren Anderson, Joshua Peugh, and many others. As a first-year member of Merge, she is excited for the many opportunities that have come her way. Michela lives by the motto: “If you stumble, make it a part of the dance.”

Photography by Jeremy Marmolejo

Select Performance

a dance about pineapple

"People of the Pineapple" by Michelle Nance