Department Chair, Assistant Professor — Ballet, Jazz, Composition, Pedagogy
Adjunct Faculty, Acrobatics
Adjunct Faculty, Introduction to Global Dance, Improvisation, Dance History, Composition
Betsy Brandt is an interdisciplinary dance educator, dramaturg, writer, maker, and mover. She currently holds a faculty appointment at Webster University, teaching courses in history, theory, composition, and technique. A pioneer of the emergent role of dramaturgy in contemporary dance, recent dramaturgical projects include Sara Hook and Elizabeth Johnson's Erstwhiles and Somnambulations (2017), Kate Corby's Harbor (2016), Sara Hook and Paul Matteson's Bored House Guests (2014), and Jennifer Monson's Bessie-nominated Live Dancing Archive (2013). In 2012, Brandt collaborated with Doris Duke Performing Arts Award recipient Tere O'Connor to develop a dance-film installation of the choreographer's work for the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College.
Brandt's dramaturgical work is shaped by her history as a choreographer and performer, having danced in works by diverse artists including Victoria Marks, Lisa Race, Kim Epifano, Jennifer Monson, and Bebe Miller. In 2017/18, Brandt was one of five dance writers from across the country to be invited to participate in the pilot Dance Writing Laboratory sponsored by the National Center for Choreography at NCCAkron. Brandt's scholarship has also been presented at a Special Topics conference of the Congress on Research in Dance, the Congress of Illinois's Beyond Utopia conference, and as part of the Lorado Taft Lectureship series.
Brandt was the Co-Artistic Director of the aTrek Dance Collective from 2003-2009, served as the president of the Board of Directors for Leverage Dance Theater from 2013-2018, and is a current member of the Artist Advisory Board for The Luminary, an interdisciplinary arts incubator. She also worked in arts administration and program development with the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and Young Audiences of St. Louis. Her research and choreographic works have been supported by the Lorado Taft Lectureship Fund (2015), UIUC's Creative and Performing Arts Fellowship (2009-2012), the Mary Elizabeth Hamstrom Award (2010), the Patricia Knowles Graduate Travel Award (2011), and the Moe Family Award (2012).
She earned her MFA in Dance, with a research emphasis in cinema studies, from University of Illinois: Urbana-Champaign, where she was also a teaching assistant and an adjunct faculty member. She received her BA in Dance and Political History from Kenyon College.
Adjunct Faculty, Somatics, Introduction to Professional Dance
Jan Feager Cosby
Adjunct Faculty, Tap
Jan Feager Cosby has taught tap at Webster University since 1990. Formerly on faculty at Washington University in St. Louis and the Ballet Conservatory of St. Louis, she also teaches at DaySpring School of the Arts. In 1988 she founded and was artistic director for Tapsichore, a contemporary rhythm tap company that toured regionally and collaborated with dancers Acia Gray, Suzanne Grace, musicians Kim Portnoy, Ken Palmer, Paul deMarinis and composer Bob Chamberlin among others. She was one of eleven tap artists chosen from an international pool to work with the late tap master Charles “Honi” Coles at the Colorado Dance Festival's first Tap Creative Residency.
Since then she has performed and taught tap improvisation and technique for the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, the St. Louis Tap Festival, St. Louis Dance Festival, the Missouri Arts Council's Missouri Touring Program and the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis. Cosby served as a Regional Representative for the International Tap Association for several seasons and sat on the Steering Committee for that organization during its early years.
Prior to founding Tapsichore, Cosby toured nationally as performer and teacher with the award-winning Metro Theater Company. Her work with MTC included performances at the Kennedy Center, the Detroit Institute of the Arts and at Powell Hall with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. Also an early musician and recorderist, Cosby was a guest member of the Ganzfeld Quartet and a long-time member of the St. Louis Early Music Band. She currently teaches recorder at Lighthouse Co-op where she has also taught Music Appreciation and Creative Movement. Her poem Nobody Knew You was published in 2009 by Paraclete Press.
Jennifer Welch Cudnik
Adjunct Faculty, Ballet
A native of St. Louis and an educator for 20 years, Jennifer Welch Cudnik holds a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from Hollins University. She is a faculty member and rehearsal director at COCA as well as the director and co-founder of the nonprofit, Ballet Initiative. Cudnik is an ABT Certified Teacher who has taught ballet at Washington University, Saint Louis Ballet School, Grand Center Arts Academy as well as at Montana Ballet, Yellowstone Ballet, Hollins University, and the Open Doors Dance Festival. Cudnik is a commissioned choreographer and a career consultant for aspiring professional ballet dancers. She is a grant recipient of Career Transition for Dancers as well as a fellowship recipient of Hollins University.
At age 15, Cudnik moved to New York City to study on full scholarship at the School of American Ballet. While at the School, she performed in ballets by George Balanchine and August Bournonville, and originated roles in works by Christopher Wheeldon and Damian Woetzel. Upon graduation, Cudnik became a professional ballerina for a decade as a member of the Pennsylvania Ballet and as a principal with Saint Louis Ballet. She performed leading roles in George Balanchine's Serenade, Allegro Brillante, Valse Fantaisie, Divertimento No. 15, and Who Cares?, in works by Dennis Nahat, Francis Patrelle, Gen Horiuchi and in The Nutcracker, the title role in Giselle, and as Aurora in the Sleeping Beauty. Cudnik has been a guest artist with Stamford City Ballet, Montana Ballet and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.
Adjunct Faculty, Jazz, Ballet
Gary Hubler joined the Webster faculty in 1973 and served as the artistic director for Webster Dance Theatre. He has performed in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and at The Muny in St. Louis. He has trained with many well-known teachers including Leon Danielian, Edna McRae, Matt Mattox, and Luigi. He continues to work as a guest artist, teacher, and choreographer throughout the Midwest.
After 33 years of teaching, Hubler retired from Webster University in May of 2006. In honor of Hubler's retirement after 33 years at Webster University, the 2006 Spring Concert featured many alumni who returned from across the country to take part in a celebration of Hubler's career. Alumni danced side-by-side with current members of Webster University Dance Ensemble in reprised pieces of Hubler's from as far back as 1987. The title of the concert, From Swan Lake To Swan Song, referenced the fact that Hubler's first professional performance was in Swan Lake on the stage of Kiel Opera House.
Adjunct Faculty, Jazz, Ballet
Ellen Isom has had a versatile career in dance since graduating with her BA from Webster University. She has danced in modern companies in Chicago and St. Louis. She has performed around the world aboard Royal Viking and Royal Cruise Lines. Isom is a proud member of Actors' Equity and has performed in musical theatre venues regionally in the United States including the Goodman in Chicago and Stages St. Louis.
Isom has choreographed a variety of musicals, plays and dance pieces in the St. Louis area for professional venues including Stages St. Louis, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, New Jewish Theatre, Echo Theatre, and The Temporary Theatre Company. She has also choreographed musicals for both Webster University and St. Louis University.
She is on faculty at several St. Louis area schools including Visitation Academy, the Stages' Performing Arts Academy and On Your Toes Dance Studio.
Isom is privileged to teach students of all ages and abilities. At Webster, she currently teaches beginning ballet and intermediate ballet and jazz which she finds particularly rewarding. Building a strong foundation in ballet and jazz is important to the success of a dancer and developing the keen mind-body connection of a dancer is beneficial to all students.
Dawn Karlovsky is a prolific choreographer whose thought provoking, athletic, and emotionally candid dances have been commissioned and presented by universities, modern dance companies and theatre companies both regionally and nationally. Karlovsky is the founder and artistic director of Karlovsky & Company Dance, a contemporary modern dance company dedicated to exploring and nurturing the art of dance with innovative choreography that celebrates the human experience. Karlovsky's recent work focuses on developing dance for the camera. Her video, Closer, created in collaboration with New York-based choreographer, Megan Nicely, was presented at the American College Dance Festival – ScreenDance Festival in March 2011.
Karlovsky's choreography has been commissioned and presented by Webster University, Washington University in St. Louis, University of Missouri–St. Louis (UMSL), University of Minnesota–Duluth, University of Utah, American College Dance Festival (ACDFA), Dance St. Louis, Tsinghua University (Beijing, China), Christopher Watson Dance Co. (Minneapolis), Ressl Dance!, Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis, That Uppity Theater, and others. Karlovsky came to St. Louis in 1998 after dancing and touring with companies in San Francisco, Louisville, and Chicago including Afterimages Repertory Dance, California Contemporary Dance, and GASH/VOIGT Dance Theatre here in St. Louis, and in addition, performing with many independent artists including contact improvisation works with Andrew Harwood, David Marchant, Liz Claire, and Angela Culbertson, project collaborations with Mary Ann Rund, and performing Isadora Duncan repertoire under the direction of Dr. Alice Bloch.
Locally, her choreography has been presented in festivals including Spring to Dance, St. Lou Fringe Festival, Dancing in the Street, St. Louis Dance Festival, and Contemporary Moves hosted by Dance St. Louis. Full evening concert programs by Karlovsky & Company Dance are presented annually. Karlovsky holds a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Utah and a Bachelor of Arts with honors from Northern Illinois University. Karlovsky is a faculty member of the Performing Arts Department at Washington University and the Department of Dance at Webster University in St. Louis, dance faculty at COCA, and a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique.
Adjunct Faculty, Aerial Dance
Adjunct Faculty, Costume Design and Construction, Stagecraft
William Russell, DC, DACBSP
Coordinator of Dance Injury Prevention, Dance
Dr. William (Bill) Russell specializes in the treatment of dancers, musicians, and actors and maintains an on-site clinic for Webster students, treating acute and chronic injuries using a variety of physical medicine techniques and Pilates-based exercise programs. He received the Doctor of Chiropractic from Logan University, holds a Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians in sports medicine, and has studied acupuncture extensively in China and the United States. He is an active member of the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science and Performing Arts Medicine Association, and has published numerous articles and lectured nationally and internationally on dance medicine.
In addition to his performing arts medicine practice, he is an internationally known artist, exhibiting works in Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom. In St. Louis, his work can be seen at ARTICA and the Contemporary Museum and as sets for ANNONYArts. Dr. Russell graduated from Pittsburgh University with a BFA and MA and Washington University with a MFA in Multimedia. He has danced with Sara Shelton Mann and Off Track Dancers and studies African dance via Katherine Dunham Technique and Black Dance USA.
Adjunct Professor, Jazz
Adjunct Faculty, Hip-Hop
Ashley L. Tate is the founder, artistic director, and lead choreographer of Ashleyliane Dance Company (ADC), a full-service dance organization based in the Greater St. Louis area. Tate has studied dance for over 30 years. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science from Texas Christian University, where she served two consecutive years as captain during her four-year stint as a member of the TCU Showgirls Dance Team. She has been an instructor for National Dance Alliance, a cast member in a Sony Dreamworks motion picture, and a bodily-kinesthetic intelligence presenter for St. Louis Area Resources for Community and Human Services (ARCHS).
Tate has choreographed for NCAA basketball and football halftime shows, studio recitals, theatre productions, professional dance organizations, and national and regional dance competitions. She teaches master classes and workshops in contemporary, hip-hop, jazz, lyrical, and specialty classes in turns, leaps, and cardio hip-hop. She was a member of the Saint Louis Rams Football Cheerleaders, serving as a captain for two years. She also served as the head cheer and dance coach at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and as an adjudicator for Cathy Roe Ultimate Dance Competitions. Tate is now a board member for Missouri Dance Organization, a member of the National Dance Education Organization, and an adjudicator for Fury Dance Competitions. She is also a recently certified Zumba® instructor.
Tate is an adjunct instructor of dance at Washington University in St. Louis and the former chair of the dance department at Grand Center Arts Academy. She was invited to a private audition for Cirque du Soleil's Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour and is a recipient of Grand Center's Emerging Artist Visionary Award. She has served as a judge for the Fox Performing Arts Charitable Foundation's Teen Talent Showcase for several years. She is also a winner of the Pulse On Tour Dance Convention Protégé Scholarship, a Monsters of Hip-Hop Scholarship (and a former Monsters Show Nominee), and is signed as a dancer and dance educator with Clear Talent Group in Los Angeles, California. Her work has chosen to be featured in choreographer's showcases at the Peridance Capezio Center, TADA! Theater, and Baruch Performing Arts Center, all in New York City, as well as the Choreographer's Carnival in Chicago, Illinois and Versatility Dance Festival in Boulder, Colorado.
Tate is a 2018 recipient of the Spencer T & Ann W. Olin Fellowship for Women in Graduate Study. She is a graduate student in the Performing Arts Department at Washington University in St. Louis, pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Dance.
Visiting Lecturer, Ballet, Partnering, Introduction to Professional Dance II
Michael Uthoff is an internationally renowned artistic director, choreographer, teacher, and dancer and the artistic and executive director of Dance St. Louis since 2006. Uthoff was born in Santiago, Chile, to former dancers Ernst Uthoff and Lola Botka, both of the Jooss Ballet and founders of the Chilean National Ballet. He started dancing after high school and a year later arrived in New York to attend the Julliard School of Music, School of American Ballet, and Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. He danced with the José Limón Company and was a principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet.
In 1972, Uthoff established the Hartford Ballet in Hartford, Connecticut. For the next 20 years, as artistic director, he developed the company into a national institution that toured throughout 49 states. He commissioned works by new and established choreographers, and created more than 100 ballets for the company himself. In 1992, Uthoff accepted the position of artistic director of Ballet Arizona, a post he held until 1999. From the time that Uthoff created his first dance for the Joffrey Ballet in 1967, his ballets have entered the repertory of companies all over the world. His large-scale works include The Nutcracker, Coppelia, Hansel and Gretel, Alice in Wonderland, Awakening, Dias de Muertos, and Romeo and Juliet.
He has directed opera and choreographed for opera companies internationally, and has served on the Board of Dance/USA and panels of the National Endowment for the Arts. Uthoff's recent career as guest teacher, choreographer, and artistic advisor includes entities such as the government of Chile, the Shanghai Ballet of China, the California Ballet of San Diego, Portland Opera Performing Institute, Andanza Dance Company of Puerto Rico, the Ballet Estable of the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he held the post of artistic director, and his own Michael Uthoff Dance Theatre, which premiered in 2003.
His teaching continues at the university level in the dance departments at University of Missouri–St. Louis and Webster University. He has been awarded a Laureate Degree from the Harford College For Women; an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the University of Missouri–St. Louis and was recognized by the Arts and Education Council for the Excellence in the Arts Award 2013.
Uthoff completed a recreation for MADCO in St. Louis and a new work for Dancing Wheels in Cleveland, Ohio to music of Alice Cooper. He also choreographed for New World School of the Arts in Miami, Florida, for the final performance under retiring Dean Daniel Lewis in Spring 2011. Among other dance works are Galleria, premiered in February 2007 by Boston Conservatory, and Honorable Sky, which he created in August 2007 for 30 X 30, the 30th anniversary celebration of BalletMet Columbus.
Adjunct, Modern, Composition, Performance Techniques, International Dance
Xi Zhao received her MFA in Performance and Choreography from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU and her MA in Dance Choreography at the School of Dance, Minzu University of China. She is the founder and artistic director of The NEW-Beijing New Dance Festival. The festival has successfully invited over 100 international artists from more than 25 countries to perform and to teach in Beijing, introducing many contemporary dance artists and companies from central and Eastern Europe to China for the first time. It has hosted over 10,000 participants and spectators from all over China. Zhao was a tenured lecturer at the School of Dance, Minzu University of China for 11 years.
In view of Zhao's contributions to the contemporary dance scene in China, she was commissioned by China's Ministry of Culture as the dance expert assisting the visit of the CEEC (Central and Eastern European Countries) Dance Festivals and Choreographers delegation in 2014. In 2016 she was invited to be a keynote speaker at the Chinese Government's "16+1" initiative, the China-CEEC Arts Cooperation Forum. She has given keynotes and panel discussions about Chinese contemporary dance development at many international dance festivals. In 2019 she was a visiting guest artist in the Dance Department at Webster University in St. Louis where she currently serves as an adjunct faculty and the artistic director of Webster University Dance Ensemble.
Zhao has actively engaged in the Chinese community through her teaching and service and has worked as the artistic director for the annual St. Louis Lunar New Year Galas. She has worked as an independent choreographer worldwide and is a member of China Dancers Association, the leading association of dance professionals in China. In April, 2019 Zhao received the "Award MENADA for Extraordinary Achievement in the Field of Contemporary Dance" from the Dance Fest Skopje in North Macedonia.