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Faculty

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Ramon Reyes

Latin Culture Dance
 

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Chris Bishop

Hip-Hop
 

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Hailee Whiddon

Classical Dance
 

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Ben Lopez

Hip-Hop

Directors

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Chad Allen Ortiz
Executive Director

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Michael Nickerson-Rossi

Artistic Director

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Kirsten Raven-Asturi
Professional Development Director

Michael Nickerson-Rossi

Bio
Michael Nickerson-Rossi’s choreography is filled with complex intricacies that unravel through a beautifully orchestrated mixture of artistic movement and emotional freedom. It has been recognized as profound and it is with this passion he creates quality and meaningful programming throughout the world. Currently, you can find Michael teaching choreography and composition at John Hopkins University "Peabody Conservatory," Directing at his school "Palm Springs Dance Academy," and continuing to present concert dance works in theaters worldwide and films online.

Michael has taught at over 35 Universities/Colleges across the nation, started a classical modern program at Princeton Ballet, choreographed for Maserati & Porsche and worked as the Creative Director of Dance at the Palm Springs Annenberg Theater and Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center.

Michael is the founder and Artistic Director of the Palm Springs International Dance Festival and the Platform Dance Convention.


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Chad Allen Ortiz

Bio

Chad Allen is from Temecula, California, and trained under the mentorship of his brother, George Ortiz Jr. His professional career began as an apprentice of Nickerson-Rossi Dance (NRD) in 2014. Chad Allen is now the Executive Director and Principal Dancer of Nickerson-Rossi Dance. Chad is also the Co-Owner of the Palm Springs Dance Academy, Executive Director of the Palm Springs International Dance Festival, and Co-Produces the Platform Dance Convention. Through NRD's multiple dance programs throughout the nation, Chad has worked with over 32 high schools, 35 universities, 20 professional dance companies/choreographers, and countless amounts of dance studios.

 

Currently, you can find Chad teaching as an adjunct at Johns Hopkins University Peabody Conservatory, directs the Co-Operative Educational Internships with Nickerson-Rossi Dance and Drexel University’s Steinbright Program, and is a full-time faculty member at the Palm Springs Dance Academy.

Chad has worked with multiple non-profits with therapeutic dance programming, from the Flourish Foundation with Jackie Lopez’s Versa-Style Next Generation in Los Angeles, Sister Mary’s Project Home in Philadelphia, and the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center in Rancho Mirage. Chad has taught multiple educational programs throughout the Palm Springs Unified School District and Riverside County’s Office of Education.

Chad Allen has danced internationally with the Nickerson-Rossi Dance Company and has also worked with Union Dance Project, PGK Dance Project, Brandywine Ballet, Compulsions Dance & Theater, and a national touring group for Romeo & Juliet. Chad has performed at the prestigious Jacob’s Pillow, the McCallum Theatre’s Choreographer’s Festival, the Royal Theatre in Turin, Italy, and many others.

 
 

Hailee Whiddon

Bio

Hailee Whiddon grew up in Southern California and trained in both classical and contemporary ballet for 15 years at Dunamix Dance Project in Temecula, CA. She competed at YAGP in 2017 and was a top 10 semi-finalist for contemporary dance earning her a scholarship to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Advanced Summer Ballet Program.  In 2018, Hailee earned a merit scholarship to Alonzo King Lines Advanced Summer Ballet, in 2019 to their Pre-professional program, and a scholarship to attend Lines Ballet year-round Training Program. She also earned a merit scholarship to Backhaus Summer Intensive. In 2020 Hailee performed with the City Ballet of San Diego as a trainee.

 

Hailee attended the apprenticeship program with the Nickerson-Rossi Dance Company and is honored to become a company dancer and most recently a faculty member at the Palm Springs Dance Academy.


Hailee can be seen in “These Walls” Music Video as a ballet dancer by Artist Jason David Sluter and “Happiness” an Indy Film as a classical ballerina directed by  Michael Uganda.  She is currently signed with San Diego Model and Talent agency.

 

Ben Lopez

Bio

Ben Lopez is a dancer, choreographer, and performer with over 20 years of experience performing and teaching in a number of dance genres such as folklorico, salsa, lyrical, contemporary, jazz funk, and hip hop.

 

Much of Ben’s inspiration comes from his experience working with several Hip Hop troupes spanning many different states in both the US and Mexico. Along with these experiences, Ben has worked hard to keep a fresh perspective and a keen eye on the ever-evolving styles and intrinsic nuances that are fundamental to the Hip Hop genre. 

 

Through the unwavering support of friends and family, along with his interest and passion for, not only learning, but elevating this style, Ben has managed to develop methods and standards focused on developing technique while instilling an ethic that produces students who are motivated, confident, and amazing dancers who love themselves and know they are capable of becoming whatever they desire to be.

 

Kirsten Raven-Asturi

Bio

Kirsten Raven Asturi began her journey in the arts as a ballet dancer. Classically trained at Merced Academy of Dance, Kirsten began teaching at the age of 18 under the mentorship of Jane Vann Bryan in Merced, CA. In 2002, Kirsten created and implemented a performing arts program within the structure of The Enrichment Center, an art program for adults with different abilities in Merced, CA. This inspired a devotion to inclusion that positively influences her teaching style. She performed with Central West Ballet in Modesto before branching out to explore and perform modern dance with Off-Balance, a performing company in residence at Modesto Junior College, under the direction of Kim T. Davis and Lori Bryhni. In 2006, she was honored to perform twice during the Gala Evening performance of the American College Dance Festival, in Sacramento, CA.  

 

As a ballet instructor for over 15 years with Juline School of Dance in Modesto, Kirsten honed her craft of teaching students of all ages, from preschool to pre-professional.  Kirsten’s most treasured arts experiences come from the classroom, and in working with dancers as they learn and grow.  

 

As the former Director of Outreach for The Juline Foundation for Children, she was able to provide dance experiences to children in public schools throughout Stanislaus County, working with students aged K-6, including students with a range of abilities. She directed numerous performances combining these public school dancers with mentors from Juline Regional Youth Ballet, with magical results. 

 

After moving to the central California coast in 2015, she returned to teaching at The Dance Center, in Carmel, CA, and an amazing new chapter in dance and costuming began.

 

Kirsten’s love of sewing and creating started early. She began to formally design and create costumes in 2003, and this has since led to her creating costumes for Kim T Davis Dance, Central West Ballet, Juline Regional Youth Ballet, San Jose State University, sjDANCEco, Sacramento State University, and Monterey Peninsula Ballet Theater. Most notably, she has costumed the original works of Michael Nickerson-Rossi and costumed almost the entire repertoire of Nickerson Rossi Dance.

 

Kirsten returns to a passion for sharing the arts with all children, with a new partnership with Nickerson Rossi Dance. This fall she will work to bring dance education through Nickerson-Rossi Dance Education's Program, "School Alliance," under the direction of Michael Nickerson Rossi and Chad Allen Ortiz.

 
 

Ramon Reyes

Bio

Ramon Antonio Reyes is from Cuidad Bolivar, Venezuela. At the age of eight, he developed a strong interest in art and Latin dance and began studying at the Fragachan Narciso School. Even at a young age, Reyes learned the importance of composition, quality, and passion. When he was a teenager, he was able to apprentice under acclaimed Venezuelan artist Ramon Antonio Morales. This experience created a greater desire to pursue fine art as a lifetime career. Because of this newly tapped passion, Reyes furthered his education with art and received his Master's in Visual Art at the Experimental University in Caracas, Venezuela.


In 2010, Reyes chose to expand his vision as an artist by traveling globally. This allowed him the opportunity to fall in love with all styles of Latin dance while also exhibiting his art to the public across Europe. After these travels, Reyes moved to Mexico where he accepted a position as a Professor of Art at Guadalajara University, Tabasco. This gave him the chance to continue to refine his own unique approach to fine art as well as celebrate his love for the art of movement and dance.


In 2015, Ramon made a move to the United States and had since been represented by multiple galleries across the country. He eventually made Palm Springs his home in 2020 and has been focused on connecting his love for art to the community.

Chris Bishop

Bio

Christopher Bishop is an artist of many disciplines, but dance is something that has been with him since his adolescent years in Cathedral City, CA. Growing up in the '90s era influenced his style of dance and he brings that essence every time he enters a cypher. 

 

Chris specializes in Popping, which is also known to locals as Poplocking; and Boogaloo, a style that is rooted in the Bay Area. His main influences come from the Groov-a-trons and the Electric Boogaloos just to name a few. Chris remains a practitioner to this day. 

 

Chris graduated from the University of California, Riverside in 2015 with a degree in Sociology/Administrative studies. He went on to help organize the 1212 Sessions, a DJ collective based in the Inland Empire that hosts street dance classes and events. 

 

Chris understands what today's youth endure. Some of it goes unforeseen, so when it comes to giving them time for encouragement, "the culture" is the answer. Street dance can be rough around the edges, but in that "funk" lies self-discovery, finding that true warrior inside.

 
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