Dance Faculty

Michael Nickerson-Rossi
 
Modern
Composition
Dance Production

Gail DeZon

Ballet

Chad Allen Ortiz

Contemporary

Jazz

Hailee Whiddon

Intro to Dance
Ballet
Contemporary

Alessandra Di Pierro

Ballet

Alexis Hull

Intro to Dance
Jazz
Hip-Hop

Kathleen Whitener

Ballet

Academy Directors

Michael 1_preview.png

Michael Nickerson-Rossi

Artistic Director

Chad Allen Ortiz

Programs Director

Laurie Bianchin

Academy 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’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.

 

Gail DeZon

Bio

Originally from the New York/New Jersey metro area, Gail DeZon began her ballet studies under the

tutelage of some of the world’s most revered teachers, including Vitale Fokine, Graziella Danielli, Muriel

Stuart and Finis Jung. As a Jazz dancer, Matt Mattox, Charles Kelly, Lynn Simonson, Phil Black, Fred

Benjamin and Luigi were her mentors. Gail’s formal training also included the Boston Conservatory of

Music as a dance major/minor voice, Brooklyn College, and many independent studies in NYC.

Gail began her teaching career at sixteen, providing instruction in Ballet, Jazz, Tap and Exercise

techniques throughout the New Jersey area. Moving to Brooklyn, she partnered in opening and

operating The Dance Studio of Park Slope, still thriving today. An ongoing collaboration between the

Studio and Macy’s resulted in co-choreographing many televised events including Macy’s

Thanksgiving Parade and the Tap Event for the Guinness Book of Records, assembling the

greatest number of tap dancers ever assembled. The studio partnership also created many staged

productions including multiple recitals and performances of the Nutcracker.

She then went on to teach at all three locations of the prestigious New Jersey Ballet, then under the

direction of Edward Villella; a further series of moves enabled Gail to continue to teach multiple dance disciplines with a strong specialization in Ballet in NE Ohio, Philadelphia, Southern California and, as a guest teacher in Tianjin, China. Eagerly sought after as a personal coach, she has also provided

private training for Olympic-level skaters, gymnasts, and regional dance teams.

When she first arrived in SoCal, Gail taught in Ontario and then anchored Beaumont’s Dance

Spectrum for 14 years, which usually includes choreographing their ongoing bi-annual production of

the Nutcracker. She has also taught and choreographed at the California Ballet Opera and Dance

Dimensions here in the Valley.

Gail considers it a great privilege to also continue to exercise her vocal talents as a member of several

leading regional choral groups which provided the career highlights of singing in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln

Center, Philadelphia’s Academy of Music, Beijing's Forbidden City, and Shanghai’s Grand Theatre.

Most recently she happily added The Redlands Bowl, the McCallum Theatre, and the Segerstrom

Center for the Arts to her roster of vocal performances.

Based in Redlands, CA for almost thirty years, Gail was deeply involved in the community as a leader

in cultural and philanthropic efforts and also taught Ballet at the Brockus Conservatory. She continues

to stay current with the latest Ballet disciplines and modifications with online continuing education and

20 years of Pilates training. Now in the Coachella Valley since 2012, she continues to seek out

community involvement including school reading programs, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate

for a foster child) and is currently working with the Ophelia Project, a mentoring group helping college-

bound teenage girls.

 

Gail feels very lucky to have continued teaching wherever she has lived and looks forward to being an

integral team member of the Palm Springs Dance Academy.

 

Alexis Hull

Bio

Alexis Hull is a dance instructor and choreographer in styles of jazz, hip hop, beginning ballet, and technique for gymnasts. She choreographed for the award-winning high school dance team at Xavier Prep and still coaches a group of undefeated level six gymnasts. Alexis was featured in the “Phantom of the Opera” at the McCallum Theatre in 2019. Her latest goal is to instruct the students enrolled in the Palm Springs Dance Academy's “Intro to Dance” program, as they make their first steps with successful dance training.

 

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.

 

Kathleen Whitner

Bio

Kathleen moved to Salt Lake City, Utah where she began training at the Ballet Centre founded by the late William Christensen, founder of San Francisco Ballet and Ballet West.  

In 2000 Kathleen obtained a full scholarship to The David Taylor Dance Theatre out of Denver, Colorado where she trained directly under renowned artistic directors/choreographers James Clouser and David Taylor.  Later that year she was hired into David Taylor Dance Theatre where she trained with principal dancer Alison Jaramillo and choreographer/dancer James Wallace.

 

In 2002, she joined the USMC.  After her time in service, she became certified with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and became an Independent Personal Trainer with an additional certification in Pilates from the Body Arts and Science Institute (BASI).  In 2014 Kathleen completed her teacher’s certification in New York City with the Bolshoi Ballet, and in 2017 completed her second certification.