ADF is fortunate to have some of the most dedicated faculty in the country on its roster. These individuals form a group of generous, inspired, and accomplished dance artists that are the foundation of the ADF community. They serve as guides and mentors, inspiring students to attain new levels of artistry and physicality. After a summer spent working side by side in the studio, seeing performances together, and dialoguing with one another, students and teachers often forge relationships that last long after the festival is over. We invite you to read about each of our faculty below.
As part of the Dance Professional Workshops, participants also take classes in the Summer Dance Intensive. Check out our Summer Dance Intensive faculty here!
kira blazek ziaii
Kira Blazek Ziaii is a dancer, choreographer, and teaching artist originally from Houston, TX. She has performed with Hubbard Street 2, Douglas Dunn & Dancers, Christopher Williams, anoukvandijkdc, Pilobolus Creative Services, Phantom Limb Company, and Shen Wei Dance Arts, among others. Her choreography has been presented in New York, Sarasota, Tulsa, Austin, and Los Angeles, as well as featured in music videos for Beach House and De Lux. Kira holds a BFA from Oklahoma University and an MFA from California Institute of the Arts. She has been a certified Countertechnique teacher since 2012 and is on faculty at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Other teaching engagements have included Gibney Dance Center, Princeton University, California State University Long Beach, Hope Stone, Austin TBXS, Oklahoma University, and company classes for BODYTRAFFIC and Diavolo. kirablazek.com
Photo credit: Amanda Vincelli
Gerri Houlihan began her professional training at The Juilliard School, studying with Antony Tudor, Alfredo Corvino, and members of the Martha Graham and Jose Limon dance companies. She performed with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet and the Paul Sanasardo Dance Company and spent five years as a soloist with the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company touring extensively throughout the United States and Europe. Ms. Houlihan has taught or choreographed for such institutions as NY’s High School of the Performing Arts, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Bates Dance Festival, the Boston Ballet, the Harvard Summer Dance Center, Meredith College, the University of South Florida, North Carolina School of the Arts, the University of Richmond, the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and Virginia Commonwealth University. From 1984 to 1987, she directed her own school and company, the Boston Dance Project. She was one of five finalists in the Boston Ballet’s International Choreography Competition. From 1988 to 1999, Ms. Houlihan was on the faculty of New World School of the Arts in Miami, FL. During that time, she was also the artistic director of Houlihan and Dancers. The recipient of two Florida Individual Artist Fellowships in Dance/Choreography in 1991-92 and 1996-97, Houlihan and Dancers was on the touring roster for the state of Florida. She is a member of the board of directors for the Florida Dance Association and also for the American College Dance Association. Ms. Houlihan has been on the faculty of the American Dance Festival from 1981 to 1983 and from 1987 to the present. As an international representative for ADF, she has participated in eighteen international linkages, teaching in Korea, China, Brazil, Paraguay, Chile, Estonia, Poland, the Philippines, Russia, and Mongolia. She is the 2005 recipient of the Balasaraswati Joy Anne Dewey Beinecke Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching and a 2012 recipient of the Pearl S. Tyner Distinguished Professor in Teaching Award. She received her MFA in 2007 from the Hollins University/American Dance Festival MFA program. She recently retired from FSU and currently teaches year-round at the American Dance Festival studios and as a guest artist at Elon University.
Photo credit: Sara D. Davis/ADF
Jesse Zaritt is a Brooklyn, NY based dance artist. He is an Assistant Professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA, having previously been the inaugural 2014-2016 Research Fellow in the University’s School of Dance. Jesse has performed his solo work in Taiwan, Uruguay, Russia, Korea, Germany, New York, Japan, Mexico, Israel and throughout the United States. His solo ‘Binding’ is the recipient of three 2010 New York Innovative Theater Awards: Outstanding Choreography, Outstanding Solo Performance, and Outstanding Performance Art Production.
In 2017, Jesse presented work in San Diego as a commissioned choreographer and solo performer in the youTurn Arts performance series. Jesse worked collaboratively with choreographer Jumatatu Poe from 2012-2015; their evening length duet was presented by Gibney Dance Center in New York City in October 2015. Their work was also shown at AUX Performance Space (Vox Populi) and Fringe Arts in Philadelphia (PA) and at the Baryshnikov Arts Center (through the sponsorship of Triple Canopy), Dixon Place and New York Live Arts (through the Studio Series Program) in New York City. A duet created in collaboration with choreographer Katie Swords premiered at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City in Late October 2015. Jesse was commissioned by the American Dance Festival to create a duet with choreographer Mark Haim which premiered as part of the 2015 ADF performance season.
From September 2008 through June 2011, Jesse was an artist in residence at the 14th Street Y in Manhattan as part of LABA, a laboratory for new Jewish culture. He was the recipient of a 2006-2007 Dorot Fellowship in Israel which enabled him to study the relationship between political conflict and choreography. Jesse was a performer with the Shen Wei Dance Arts Company (NYC/2001-2006), the Inbal Pinto Dance Company (Tel Aviv/2008), and in the work of Netta Yerushalmy (NYC/2009-2016). Jesse has also performed in the work of Faye Driscoll (NYC/2010-2015) and works as an artistic adviser for her current projects. Jesse currently works in creative dialogue with Sara Shelton Mann.
Jesse has taught at Bard College (NY), the American Dance Festival (NC), Hollins University (VA) and Pomona College (CA), as well as at schools and festivals in Taiwan, Uruguay, Mexico, Japan, Korea, and Russia. Jesse received an MFA in Dance from Hollins University/The American Dance Festival (2008) and a BA from Pomona College (2000). http://www.jessezaritt.com
Photo credit: Olivia Blaisdell