Previous to founding Take Root, Thayer Jonutz performed as a full time company member with Repertory Dance Theatre where he performed both classic and contemporary works by noted choreographers like Douglass Dunn, Zvi Gotheiner, Daniel Nagrin, Bill Evans, Scott Rink, and Susan Hadley. Thayer earned his MFA in Dance from the University of Michigan, performing in the Peter Sparling Dance Company. Currently, Thayer is an Associate Professor of Dance at Oakland University where he directs the Repertory Dance Company and teaches modern, improvisation, dance pedagogy and partnering courses. In addition to performing with Take Root, Thayer has performed with Patterson Rhythm Pace Dance Company, Rustic Groove, Agua Dulce Dance Theater, Eisenhower Dance, Rebudal Dance among others. In 2013, Thayer joined forces with fellow Assistant Professor of Dance, Ali Woerner and co-founded the professional contemporary modern dance company, Take Root.
Ali Woerner is Associate Professor of Dance at Oakland University (teaching modern technique and choreography), and Co-Director/Co-Founder with Thayer Jonutz of the professional modern dance company, Take Root, one of Oakland University’s two professional dance "Company -in- Residence.”
Ali received her MFA from the University of Michigan and her BPA from Oklahoma City University. Throughout her diverse career within both commercial (performing as a Radio City Rockette) and contemporary mediums, Ali has performed and taught and performed all over the world; including Colombia, Costa Rica, Japan, Berlin and Korea. Take Root has been commissioned to perform their original work at the New Dance for Asia International Festival/Seoul, South Korea, Incheon Yeonsu International Dance Festival/Incheon, Korea, Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Arts X/ Detroit Institute of Arts, performed at the National Theater of Costa Rica, Uferstudios/Berlin, Germany, DSO/The Cube, The Red Bull House of Art Detroit, TEDx, The Detroit Dance City Festival, RADFest, Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival, The Music Hall Center for Performing Arts Detroit, Hamlin Field House Theater/Chicago, invited to perform a full length concert as part of opening day of “Dance: American Art 1830-1960” at the Detroit Institute of Arts, invited to present for the National Dance Education Organization (Miami, Chicago and San Diego), Ohio Dance Festival, The University of Costa Rica, the American College Dance Festival, the 21st Century Arts and Arts Education Conference and has received funding from Oakland University’s University Research College, Brooksie Way Mini Grant, the Community Engagement Grant from Oakland University’s College of Arts and Sciences and the Education Research Grant from the Senate for Teaching and Learning and an “Anonymous Grant.” The company’s mission is Impacting Lives Through Dance. Take Root teaches master classes nationally and internationally to all ages promoting the need for connection to the arts and arts education and is deeply involved in their outreach work of Arts Education and Dance for Parkinson’s Disease. Take Root’s Dance for Parkinson’s Disease Program offers weekly classes in four locations including Detroit, Pontiac and Rochester. Ali Woerner was awarded the prestigious Oakland County Executive’s 2016 Elite 40 Under 40 top honor for her creation and direction of the Dance for Parkinson’s Disease program and she is a guest lecturer for the William Beaumont School of Medicine’s Neuroscience course. Ali and Thayer were named a finalist for the Governor’s Fitness Awards for 2016.