Mallory Hensel was born and raised in Saint Louis, Missouri where she performed and trained with Missouri Ballet Theatre throughout her high school career. She furthered her dance education at the University of Missouri - Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance. At UMKC, she had the opportunity to perform works by DeeAnna Heitt, Paula Weber, Sabrina Madison-Cannon and Gregory Dawson. She graduated in May of 2017 with her Bachelors of Fine Arts with an emphasis in Ballet and Modern Dance. Her summers were spent attending summer intensives with Nashville Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Peridance Capezio and The Big Muddy Dance Company. Mallory is thrilled to start her first season with The Big Muddy Dance Company.
Originally from the greater Chicago area, Jessie Philbrick began formal dance training with Salt Creek Ballet under Zhanna Dobrovskaya and Sergey Kozadayev. After high school, Jessie attended the dance program at Butler University. While at Butler, Jessie performed corps, soloist and principle roles in main stage productions of the classics, such as The Nutcracker, Giselle, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella, as well as numerous world premiers of contemporary works. During the summers, Jessie participated in summer intensives at Alonzo King Lines Ballet, NorthWest Dance Project, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. After graduating with a BA in Dance Pedagogy in May of 2017, she joined the Big Muddy Dance Company’s Convergence Trainee Program. Jessie is thrilled to be joining the company as an apprentice this season!
Karina Cardella graduated with honors from the University of Arizona with her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. During her time at the university, Karina performed works from distinguished choreographers such as Jerome Robins and Ohad Naharin. Furthermore, she has performed as a soloist in professional performances alongside the Tucson Symphony Orchestra. Karina has spent her summers dancing with Oklahoma City Ballet and Perry Mansfield on scholarship, in addition to attending the LA Dance Festival on full scholarship. Karina is looking forward to her first season with The Big Muddy Dance Company.
Zoe Lindner began dancing at the Chicago Academy for the Arts in 2008 under the direction of Randy Duncan. Upon graduation, she attended the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College, and then transferred to the dance program at Loyola University Chicago. After two years of training under Sandra Kauffman, Sarah Cullen Fuller, Amy Wilkinson and Randall Newsom, she attained her BA in dance with a minor in psychology. She has participated in programs and workshops at the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Visceral Dance Chicago, Northwest Dance Project, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, New Dialect, and with Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv and Barcelona. From 2015 to 2017, Zoe was dancing with Hedwig Dances under the direction of Jan Bartoszek. This is her first season with Big Muddy Dance Company.
CJ Burroughs received her BFA from University of Michigan and attended high school at North Carolina School of the Arts. She further trained at summer intensives held by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Bodytraffic, LINES Ballet, and San Francisco Conservatory. CJ began her professional career with Ron De Jesus Dance and Marc Macaranas' DISASTERdance and was a Trainee with Thodos Dance Chicago from 2015-2016. Her choreography has been selected for American College Dance Festival's Gala, WAXworks, and University of South Florida’s Screendance festival. After being a Trainee from 2016-2017, this is CJ’s first season with The Big Muddy Dance Company.
Samuel Asher Kunzman, born and raised in Tewksbury, NJ, began dancing at 17. After joining the New Jersey Dance Theatre Ensemble under the direction of Nancy Turano, Samuel went on to receive his BFA from The Ailey School/Fordham University. There, he performed works by Alvin Ailey, William Forsythe, Lar Lubovitch, Martha Graham, and others. Samuel has danced for the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Opera, the Peridance Contemporary Dance Company, and Ballet Hispanico’s BHDos. Samuel has presented his choreography throughout the NY/NJ area, and created works for Wanderlust Dance Project, AROVA Contemporary Ballet, and NJDTE. Samuel’s dance film, “READY” (2016), is available online. This is Samuel’s first season with Big Muddy Dance Company.
A native of Fargo, ND, Thomas Jacobson began performing at Trollwood Performing Arts School where he also took classes under professors from around the country in dance, acting, improvisation, physical theatre, and musical theatre. In 2009, Thomas joined Minnesota Dance Theatre’s trainee program along with a company position with the Breaking Boundaries Dance Company—both based in Minneapolis, MN. Thomas graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a Bachelors Degree in Dance and was awarded the Outstanding Graduating Senior Scholarship Award. While in college he had the privilege of training with Aszure Barton, Ben Wardell, Autumn Eckman, Jaclyn Walsh, and Larry Keigwin. He worked with Northwest Dance Project during their LAUNCH 10 program, training with Northwest Dance Project, Whim W’him Dance Company, and Lucas Crandall plus performing original works from Banning Bouldin and Yoshito Sakuraba. Thomas danced with Thodos Dance Chicago for two seasons and is currently on his first season with The Big Muddy Dance Company in St. Louis, MO.
Geoff was born and raised in St. Louis. His journey to dance began with gymnastics, which he practiced from the age of seven to sixteen. During his sophomore year in college he began his dance training and in 2011, he earned a BFA in theatre and dance from Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. After graduating, he worked as a dancer, choreographer, and instructor for aTrek Dance Collective and the Dance Co-op. Geoff was hired to perform with The Big Muddy in fall of 2011. He has choreographed on the Ashleyliane Dance Company, the SIUE dance department, and the Southeast Missouri State University dance department. Geoff currently works with the company's pre-professional training program by teaching, choreographing, and mentoring aspiring dancers.
Kelly earned a BFA in dance from the University of Arizona, graduating with honors. She contributes her early training to Doris Dieu, Rena Storm, and the St. Louis Ballet School. Kelly furthered her studies most summers with programs such as Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Kaatsbaan, American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Ballet Met, Ballet Chicago, and The Cecchetti Council of America summer schools. She began her professional career in South Carolina with the Charleston Ballet Theatre for one season before moving to St. Louis to join The Big Muddy Dance Company in April of 2012. Kelly loves giving back to the St. Louis community through The Big Muddy's outreach program, Senior Embrace. In addition to dancing, Kelly is a certified Romana's Pilates teacher. She thanks her family, friends, and husband Tyler for their continuous love and support.
Dustin Crumbaugh (Houston, TX) began his formal dance training at Houston Metropolitan Dance Company's pre-professional second companny, Houston Met Too. Since graduating high school, he spent two years as a dance major at Point Park University where he performed works by renowned choreographers such as Margo Sappington, Robert Battle, and Harrison McEldowney. He completed his traineeship with Ballet Austin, where he performed works by Stephen Mills, Gina Patterson, Septime Weber, and Dwight Rhoden, and trained at LINES Ballet, where he studied under master teachers such as Alonzo King, Maurya Kerr, and Amy Raymond. Dustin joined Houston Metropolitan Dance Company as a professional company member in 2005, and in 2007 joined Luna Negra Dance Theater under the direction of Eduardo Vilaro, performing works by Edgar Zendejas, Alejandro Cervera, and Gustavo Ramirez Sansano. He then danced on scholarship at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and participated in Springboard Danse Montreal, working with Jose Navas/Cie Flak and Julian Barnett. In 2009, he performed with Cerqua Rivera Dance Theater until joining The Big Muddy Dance Company in 2011, with whom he has performed works by Lauri Stallings, Lou Conte, Paula David, and Harrison McEldowney. As a member of The Big Muddy since 2011, Dustin co-directs the Convergence Trainee Program alongside Brian Enos.
Brandon Fink began his training at the Oklahoma City Ballet Conservatory. Graduating with honors, he received his B.F.A. in Dance Performance on scholarship from the University of Central Oklahoma. His pre-professional experience includes R.A.C.E. Dance Company and UCO Kaleidoscope Dance Company. Upon graduation, Brandon attended the American Dance Festival School in Raleigh/Durham, NC where he was selected for the 2011 Past/Forward Gala to perform Twyla Tharp’s “Sweet Fields.” In 2012, he was selected for the River North Dance Chicago Summer Apprenticeship Program under the direction of Frank Chavez. He was a company member with the Modern American Dance Company from 2011 – 2016 as well as a member of the Ensemble in Fiddler on the Roof at the Municipal Theatre Association of St. Louis in 2016. His choreography has been presented at the University of Missouri St. Louis, the University of Central Oklahoma, Florida Atlantic University, the American College Dance Festival, the Oklahoma Contemporary Dance Festival, the St. Louis Arts Alliance, the American Dance Troupe, The Big Muddy Convergence Trainee Program, and MADCO. He is also the color guard director at Parkway Central High School as well as a Visual Consultant for Rockwood Summit High School. Brandon is in his second season with The Big Muddy Dance Company and he will join the Ensemble in The Wizard of Oz presented by Variety Children’s Theatre.
Miranda Payne has been a Company Dancer with The Big Muddy since the company was founded in 2011. Miranda holds a BFA in Dance from Webster University, and she has trained and performed throughout the United States. Miranda has also performed with Stages St. Louis, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, The Shoji Tabuchi Theatre in Branson, MO, and Variety Children's Theatre. Miranda has been a member of the American Guild of Musical Artists since 2009. Miranda's choreography has been performed at American College Dance Festival, and she has choreographed for Six Flags St. Louis.
Robert Poe is originally from Aiken, SC and began dancing with Carl Crosby at Crosby's School of Dance. Later, for high school, he graduate from the S.C. Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities with honors. Once graduated, Robert performed as a dance artist with the Columbia City Ballet, the Nashville Ballet, Cedar Lake II, The Missouri Ballet Theatre and even the Nashville Opera before finding his way to The Big Muddy Dance Company where he is walking into his 6th season. Robert's passion for dance education has led him to teach in studios all over Missouri, South Carolina, North Carolina, Nashville and Illinois while his choreography has been seen on the Nashville Ballet as well as their training company (NB II), Missouri Ballet Theatre, The Big Muddy Dance Company and most recently, Texture Contemporary Ballet. Beyond teaching and choreography, Robert is on fire for the Senior Embrace program that the company provides to the community and sits on the Senior Outreach Committee. Robert will also be serving as Rehearsal Assistant this season and is humbly blessed to work with such passionate and talented artists.
Erin was born and raised in Webster Groves, MO where she trained at the Dance Center of Kirkwood. She earned her BFA in dance and Spanish from Colorado State university and her Masters of Fine Arts in Arts Management from Webster University. In 2006, Erin taught dance for the Boston public school district through the Topf Center for Dance Education, and danced with Fusionworks II in Providence, RI. After moving back to St. Louis, she worked for aTrek Dance Collective's Education Program, and worked as head coach of the dance team and colorguard at Webster Groves High School. Erin was a company member of the Slaughter Project, under artistic direction of Cecil Slaughter before being hired by The Big Muddy Dance Company in 2011. She also serves as the executive director of The Big Muddy and spends her time raising funds and awareness for the company when she is not dancing.
Ellen was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky, where she received her dance training from Diana Evans School of Dance and Kentucky Ballet Theatre. After moving to St. Louis, she performed with the Slaughter Project and aTrek Dance Collective while attending Saint Louis University. Ellen joined The Big Muddy in its premiere season in 2011 and received her doctorate in psychology the same year. When she's not dancing, Dr. Ellen Reed is a Mental Training Consultant with Enhanced Performance, Inc., under the close direction of Dr. Jason Selk (best-selling author and one of the nation's premiere performance coaches). Ellen has worked side by side with Dr. Jason Selk for over 10 years, and she has extensive experience in mental training for consistency, accountability, and execution in business, athletics, academics, and the performing arts. Ellen helps numerous athletes, students, and business leaders reach their peak performance through developing the mental toughness necessary for success. Ellen’s most important role is “Mom” to her son William.