Dance Faculty

_MG_2382b.jpg

Michael Nickerson-Rossi
 
Modern
Composition
Dance Production

unnamed.jpg

Alessandra Di Pierro

Ballet

Black and White Headshot.JPG

Hailee Whiddon

Ballet
Contemporary

 

59a0c033cb0325df3d013cc04b6d1567.jpg

Chad Allen Ortiz


Modern
Contemporary

Jazz

IMG_4614.jpg

Cristina McKeever

Contemporary
Jazz

 

Image.jpeg

Ben Lopez

Hip-Hop
Jazz

1-2.jpeg

Michael Roberts

Piano

 

Academy Directors

Michael 1_preview.png

Michael Nickerson-Rossi

Artistic Director

Chad_Ortiz_Headshot-2_edited.jpg

Chad Allen Ortiz
Academy Director

FT8VuYKQ.jpeg

Laurie Bianchin
Academy Consultant

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.


Read more

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’s choreography has received first-place awards and choreography choice awards at venues such as Nuvo, Art of Movement, Showstoppers, KAR, and YAGP.

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.

 
 

Alessandra Di Pierro

Bio

A native of Rome, Italy, Alessandra received extensive ballet training and started her professional dance career at the age of seventeen in Verona performing in Golestan and Bolero with Maurice Bejart’s Ballet du XXe Siecle. After that, she went on to Venice where she danced soloist and principal roles in The magic toy box and Giselle with Rudolph Nureyev. She performed more soloist and principal roles throughout Europe touring with the Italian company “Aterballetto” dancing classical works like Sleeping Beauty, August Bournonville’s Napoli and Flower Festival in Genzano, George Balanchine’s Agon and Allegro Brillante, and more contemporary pieces like Alvin Ailey’s Night Creatures, Jose Limon’s Orpheus and Glenn Tetley’s Mythical Hunters. Shortly after moving to the US in 1984, with a few months stop in New York to take a class with Maggie Black and Madame Gabriela Darvash, she moved to California and became the Artistic Director of Western Ballet School and Company in the SF Bay Area collaborating with the other instructors to devise a curriculum for 300 students that included inviting NYC Ballet guest instructors like Violette Verdy, Suky Shorer and John Prinz and choreographing many productions like The Nutcracker, Cinderella, and Coppelia.

After recently moving to the desert, she is grateful to Michael Nickerson- Rossi for the opportunity to teach for the Palm Springs Dance Academy.

 
 

Cristina McKeever

Bio

Cristina discovered her passion for choreography during her time studying at Chapman. Her love for tap dance and jazz/contemporary movement prompted her to explore how these different dance genres can communicate to create visual and auditory storytelling experiences. Her mission as an artist is to create authentic movement from the soul that connects with the audience and brings feelings of nostalgia, contentment, and reflection. Commercially, Cristina's choreography can be seen on Disney's "Minnie's Bowtoons" and Moonchild's Official Music Video for, "The List". On the concert stage, Cristina had the honor of being recognized by Emmy Winning choreographer Tyce Diorio as the winner of the 2019 IAF Creators Exhibit in Los Angeles as well as being a 2020 finalist for the McCallum Theater's Annual Choreography Festival. Her work has also appeared at the Bootleg Theatre in LA as well as Club Jete, Youth American Grand Prix, Chapman University, and various regional dance competitions. She continues to create work that can be found online on her YouTube and Instagram platforms.

Lastly, Cristina cares deeply about creating a formative and supportive educational environment for pre-professional dancers. As of August 2021, she assumed a role as Director of Dance for the Aztec Arts Academy at Palm Desert High School, a multi-disciplinary program offering Career Technical Education to high school students interested in pursuing the arts after high school. She has been an instructor/choreographer for various dance studios in LA, Orange, Riverside, and San Diego county, as well as an adjudicator for conventions/competitions across the nation. 

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.

 

Michael Roberts

Bio

Michael Roberts was born in Sussex, England and began playing the piano at age four. From 1967 to 1975 Michael was Production Stage Manager for Harold Prince in London’s West End. In 1970 he was trained and became a dance accompanist for the Royal Ballet School. And in 1975 he moved to Los Angeles where he has since worked as a dance accompanist and composer.

 

Michael was formerly Senior Accompanist of the Stanley Holden Dance Center and Music Coordinator of the Sharon Disney Lund Dance School at California Institute of the Arts, as well as Music Director of Pasadena Dance Theater. Before retiring he was Music and Technical Coordinator for the Colburn Community School of Performing Arts’ Dance program and The Colburn Dance Academy, both programs of the Trudl Zipper Dance Institute at the Colburn School, as well as faculty/accompanist for the American Ballet Theatre summer intensive and West Coast company accompanist for the American Ballet Theatre, Alvin Ailey, National Ballet of Canada, Mark Morris, Joffrey Ballet Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and Royal Ballet of New Zealand companies. He has worked extensively with master teachers Finis Jhung, David Howard, Wendy Whelan, Justin Peck, Philip Neal and George Zorich, Glenn Edgerton, Jennifer Ringer and many others. Since 1980 Michael has been a resident dance accompanist at The Los Angeles Music Center.

 

Michael has appeared on numerous TV shows and the movie Six Weeks with Mary Tyler Moore. Michael has also played extensively for Juliet Prowse, who endorsed his original dance record albums. Michael’s other compositions include four Music for Ballet Class CDs, one CD of original music for the Modern Dance Class, two CDs of original dance compositions Dancing Scores, Two Classical/New Age CDs Farther than the Sun and English Impressions, a special CD Reflections, a musical journey of the past thirty years, as well as three theater musicals and numerous commissioned dance scores. In 2007 his music was featured in the documentary film Divertissement: Every Day Dancers Stories. His latest ballet class CD Dancing Fingers was released in November 2009. In August of 2013 his latest CD Dreams of Kilimanjaro was released. Author Christine Ann Kent has included a special CD of his music in her latest best seller women’s health book, entitled Saving the Whole Woman. In 2004 he was a recipient of a special Lester Horton Award for Service to the Field.

 

In the fall of 2011 he composed the music for the DVD/film Ally Cat the Ballet Cat starring Prima Ballerina Diana Vishneva. In 2011, a special 40 th  Anniversary performance of his career as a dance accompanist was celebrated at the historic Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles. In 2015 he composed the music for a ballet choreographed by Philip Neal which was performed by the Colburn Dance Academy and was also performed at the Youth America Grand Prix finals ballet competition in April 2016 in New York City. In March 2016 his composition Patterns was performed by the Colburn Chamber Orchestra with mezzo soprano Rose Beatty conducted by Maxim Eshkenazy featuring dancers from the Colburn Dance Academy choreographed by Kelly Ann Sloan. In April 2017 Patterns was performed by the New Valley Symphony with mezzo-soprano Katherine Powers and conducted by Michael Christ Powers without dancers. In June 2016 his composition Spanish Lady was choreographed and danced by flamenco star Yolanda Arroyo at the Colburn School Evening of Dance as well as Herencia Flamenca at The Alex Theater in Glendale.

 

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.