ADF is fortunate to have some of the finest dance musicians 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 musicians below.
A rock and roll piano and keyboard player, Jefferson accompanies classes using percussion, flute, electronics, electric percussion, and many piano styles. He is the bandleader of the Jazzphibians and has performed with Fort Worth’s Hip Pocket Theatre, Jubilee Theatre, and Sojourner Truth Players. He is a former accompanist at Fort Worth Ballet, Boston Ballet, and White Mountain Summer Dance Festival and has been accompanist at North Carolina School of the Arts since 1992. BalletClassMusicforFree.com
Photo Credit: Grant Halverson
Mr. Dixon, composer and multi-instrumentalist in the field of music for dance, received his Bachelor of Arts in percussion performance from the University of North Texas School of Music, focusing on world music, jazz, drumline, and classical genres. He apprenticed under the tutelage of composer/accompanists Claudia Howard Queen at the University of North Texas and Keith Fleming at Texas Women’s University. As a multi-instrumentalist dance musician, Mr. Dixon uses piano, percussion, voice, electronics, samplers, and loops to create symphonic soundscapes allowing for a supportive and free environment.
Mr. Dixon has been accompanying dance classes since 2007 and has worked with such luminaries as Gerri Houlihan, David Dorfman, and Desmond Richardson to name a few. His works have premiered nationally at Texas Women’s University, University of North Texas, Texas Christian University, Denison University and internationally at the World Dance Alliance Global Summit in Mexico and Canada. He has also played for the prestigious American Dance Festival since 2016 and has composed over 20 original works for dance, as well as performing in touring bands throughout the U.S. As the Denison University Resident Dance Musician, he currently plays for Modern, African, and Capoeira classes as well as performing music regionally with various groups.
Vladimir Espinosa is a musician, actor, and choreographer born in Havana, Cuba in 1964. He is currently and instructor of Latin Percussion, in the Music Department- Afro-Cuban Dance, and Music-accompanist as a residence for the Dance Department, at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia. His specialties include Latin and Afro-Cuban Folkloric, contemporary Latin and traditional African Diaspora Dance and Music Rhythms. Vladimir graduated from the ENIA (instructor of the school national of the arts) graduated in the medium level and superior in Cuba, 1985. He also studied with the National Folkloric de Cuba with Regino Jimenes, , Pelladito, and Juan de Dios Ramos: whom were his teachers at ENA. When he graduated he pursued teaching and became a professor and instructor at the school of the arts in Jiguani , (Granma) , and the house of culture in Havana, Cuba. After he becoming a member for the Jazz Plaza in Cuba, Vladimir performed, taught, and choreographed for many companies including; Teatro Caribeno (Cuba) , Orile (Cuba), Companies National of Dance(Ecuador), Rojo Oscuro(Ecuador), Roanoke Ballet Theater(USA), Vladimir Espinosa has also performed Afro-Cuban traditional rhythms and Dance with Las Manos del Sol(USA), Vladimir Then started a professional career for different companies as an actor, dancer, and musician. In 1996, Vladimir was the Artistic Director and Choreographer for the election ceremonies Miss Ecuador. While performing, he has traveled extensively throughout the US, Europe, and Central and South America. In 1994 he moved to Ecuador and preformed with many groups, such as Pueblo Nuevo(Ecuador), Havana Express(Cuba), Savuka Son(Ecuador), and Koral y Esmeralda(Ecuador), Western Mambo (USA), and Los Gatos(USA). While doing so Vladimir had the opportunity to play with many excellent musicians, including Carmen Gonzalez, Omar Sosa, Michel Ferre, etc. From 1996-1999 he toured the East Coast with Havana Express, and Solazo for four years and conducted workshops in variety of high schools and universities. Vladimir is Currently a member of Latin Clave, Lenny Marcus Jazz Trio, and Las Manos del Sol, and Acoustic Latin Jazz project, Including these bands he has been a teaching, instructing, and is musician accompanist for the American Dance festival (Durham, North Carolina) since 2005-to present day. He propagandized a movie (El Accidente De La Libertad) which is an co-production with Germany and Venezuela. Vladimir is currently working for Hollins University, and continually going on tours on the National level and internationally, with different bands, and companies.
Natalie Gilbert is a pianist, accompanist, composer, and teacher and was ADF Music Director from 1981 to 2011. In addition to her work as a musician, Natalie is a nationally certified massage therapist and body worker licensed in the state of North Carolina and has a private practice as well as being an independent contractor at Duke Diet and Fitness Center. In 2012, she travelled to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where she studied Thai Yoga Massage. She incorporates these methods into her table massage. She has taught middle school music at the Carolina Friends School in Durham and has an active piano teaching studio with students of all ages, emphasizing improvisation and all styles of music. She also has students at the NC School of Science and Math. She currently plays for dance classes at Duke University and for the Carolina Ballet summer dance intensive. She has been music coordinator at The Ohio State University Department of Dance and is a founding board member of the International Guild of Musicians in Dance. Her music degrees are from Oberlin (BA) and Ohio State University (MA). As a composer and accompanist living in New York City for 16 years, she freelanced as a cocktail pianist and worked extensively with dancers as well as being on the faculty of the NYU Tisch School of the Arts Dance Department. In 2008, her featured interview was published in The Body Eclectic: Evolving Practices in Dance Training, edited by Melanie Bales and Rebecca Nettl-Fiol. She has composed music for choreographers including Liz Lerman, Dan Wagoner, Ze’eva Cohen, Sally Hess, Linda Tarnay, Jessica Fogel, Peter Goss, and Viola Farber. In addition, she has been on the faculty of the C.I.D. in Paris and the New World School of the Arts in Miami. Natalie was also part of ADF/Korea in 1990 through 1992. She currently has five CDs of music for dancers for sale. All are available in the ADF store. www.nataliegilbert.com. Two online interviews are available here, here, and here.
Photo: Ben McKeown
John Hanks is a musician living in Durham, NC. He has been ADF faculty since 1984, attended ADF/Seoul (Korea) in 1990-1991, and ADF/Henan (China) in 2012 and 2014. He is Music Director for the Duke University Dance Program and a busy freelance drummer/percussionist performing with many jazz, classical, musical theater, rock/blues, and contemporary music groups, in venues throughout North Carolina. He has released three albums of music for dance: Here Come the Drums, Drumjazz, and Percussion Jams.
Andy Hasenpflug (Director OF MUSICIANS)
ADF Music Director Andrew Hasenpflug has accumulated an extensive list of credits in dance, theater, jazz, rock, classical, patriotic, and commercial venues. These include the US Air Force Band, Denver Contemporary Dance Co., Rosanna Gamson/Worldwide, Equity Library Theater, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and jingles for Kroger food stores and Hoolihan’s restaurants. He has worked as a dance accompanist at the American Dance Festival, the Doug Varone summer intensive, the American Colleges of Dance Festival, Slippery Rock University, Henan Normal University (China), Columbia College Chicago, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, the University of Cincinnati, Helander and Co., Kim Robards Dance, the University of Colorado, SUNY Purchase, Marymount College, and the Lou Conte Studios. He has composed for such artists as Rosie Hererra, the Seldoms, Dance Alloy, LabCo, Ursula Payne, Amy Chavasse, TopToToe Butoh, Tom Truss, Jennifer Keller, Zephyr Dance Company, The Overture Academy Cincinnati, Helander and Co., and the University of Cincinnati. His teaching credits include the University of Cincinnati, Columbia College Chicago, and Slippery Rock University. He has recorded with the United States Air Force Band, Rick Lisak Band, Sylvain Acher and Fabien, Divide by Pi, and Hasenproject, as well as creating an ongoing group of solo recordings. Mr. Hasenpflug currently resides in Slippery Rock, PA, where he freelances and works as the music director for the dance department of Slippery Rock University. Find him on SoundCloud at
Photo credit: Ben Viatori
Claudia Howard Queen
Claudia Howard Queen uses piano, percussion, voice, mandolin, and electronic instruments to create sophisticated, uplifting, visceral music for dance. She has collaborated with over 250 dance instructors in NYC and Chicago professional studios, in universities throughout the US, and internationally in Ireland, Taiwan, and China. Her music scores for dance have been performed throughout the US, Ireland, England, Uruguay, and Taiwan. Her many awards include three Fulbright Specialist Awards to Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan, three National Endowment for the Arts Awards, two Meet-the-Composer Awards, and a fellowship from the University of North Texas Institute for the Advancement of the Arts (IAA). She performs internationally with the Taiwanese Improvisational Dance Company Ku & Dancers. She holds an MFA from Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. Former Associate Professor of Music for Dance at the University of North Texas, she has taught Music for Dancers, Dance Improvisation/Choreography, and Composer/Choreographer Collaboration. She trains dance musicians in the art of dance accompaniment, and has been a guest artist in dance programs throughout the US. She has been at ADF since 2006 and has played at the ADF Henan, China, in 2011 and 2014.
Eric Mullis is a Charlotte, N.C.-based dance artist who received an MFA in Dance from the University of Wisconsin (Milwaukee) and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of South Carolina. His current research interests include ecstatic states in charismatic Appalachian Pentecostalism and improvisation across artistic disciplines. Eric is a dance accompanist at the American Dance Festival and at the University of North Carolina (Charlotte), he curates an independent performance series in Charlotte and has recently shown work in the North Carolina Dance Festival, the Midwest Alternative Performance Festival, the Richmond Dance Festival, and at the University of Malta. Eric currently teaches philosophy at Queens University of Charlotte and has published essays on dance in Dance Research Journal, Performance Philosophy, Dance Research, Dance Chronicle, and the Journal of Performing Arts and Digital Media and is currently writing a manuscript (Pragmatist Philosophy and Dance: Interdisciplinary Dance Research in the American South) for Palgrave-MacMillan’s series on Performance Philosophy. ericmullis8.com
Photo: Aspen Hochhalter
West Oxking is a multi-instrumentalist from Texas. He is a band leader, singer-songwriter, and a dance accompanist/composer. He has worked full-time serving the Dance department of Texas Woman’s University since 2014, and has recently amiably resigned. He and his partner, along their two dog-children Penny and Dot, will be in search of broader horizons in Asheville, NC area this coming summer.
He is interested in Rock & Roll from its roots in traditional African Music, to its furthest distillations all way from Indie to Progressive Death Metal. Landing in-between, West Oxking has develop his own project West Oxking & The One Night Crusade that both honors the traditions of Rock and Roll music, while investigating any and all influences. The ensemble is currently recording a full-length album that will released this year. West has served on faculty at The American Dance Festival in 2015, 2017, and is enormously excited for this coming summer of 2019!
Atiba Rorie has been playing percussion instruments since he was a young child. He currently holds a BA in Music from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and has also studied with Babatunde Olatunji, Fahali Igbo, Bradley Simmons, Chief Bey, and The National Dance Ensemble of Ghana in a one month intensive in Accra, Ghana, and a one month intensive study in Guinea, West Africa. He has taught at Winston-Salem State University and currently teaches at Guilford College in the Music Department. Rorie is an accompanist in the UNC Greensboro Dance Department. He is the founder of the dynamic bands Africa Unplugged and The Afro-Soul Trio. Rorie is also a musician in various professional ensembles, with which he has performed at many venues including Dance Africa in New York, Tedx Greensboro, National Black Arts Festival, Black Dance USA, and two presidential inauguration celebrations. In 2005 Rorie was invited to participate in a Drums of Passion Tribute to Babatunde Olatunji at the Percussive Arts Society International Conference. Rorie has been a guest artist at CaldCluegh Community Center, Duke University, High Point University, Agnes Scott College, Williams College, Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival, Black College Dance Exchange, North Carolina School of the Arts, and Radford University.
Percussionist, musician, and former musical director for the African American Dance Ensemble, Khalid Saleem has lived, worked, and studied in the Ivory Coast and worked and studied with Rose Marie Guiraud, Babatunde Olatunji of Nigeria, Ladji Camara of Guinea, Titos Sampa of Zaire, Les Ballet Africains, and the National Dance Company of Guinea. Khalid has been on faculty in the Dance Department at The College at Brockport, State University of New York, since 1994. Khalid was very active during The College at Brockport’s annual diversity conference and was invited to present African percussion workshops in Salvador, Brazil in November 2008. Khalid’s latest International cultural exchange travels took him to Haiti in January 2011, traveling with SUNY Oswego’s Psychology Department as a consultant, teacher and musician. He performed at the August 2011 National Black Theater Festival in Winston-Salem, NC, Sankofa, and the African Dance and Drum Ensemble at The College at Brockport. He is the recipient of the Greater Rochester Cultural Arts recognition award, November 2011. Khalid also participated in Konkoran’s 2011 annual conference in Washington, DC, where Chuck Davis and Melvin Deale were honored. He has been on the ADF faculty since 1985.
Del Ward is a 24 year old musician based in Greensboro, NC. He is currently employed at UNC Greensboro as a dance accompanist, and frequently collaborates with B.J. Sullivan and Justin Tornow, among others. As a guitarist, vocalist, and pianist, Del brings a unique sound to dance classes. From hard funk jams to ethereal soundscapes, he puts his all into everything he plays. At 17, Del released his self-produced debut album and has since had two successful west coast tours playing as a solo act. Currently he is working on an album for his Greensboro based band, Hot Mess, as well as an album for his solo project. Though he has sat in on and played for numerous ADF classes over the past few years, he is excited to officially join ADF.
Photo credit: Zach Rimmer
Ken Ray Wilemon
Percussionist, painter, and music-maker based in Durham, NC, Ken Ray Willemon has accompanied dance at Texas Christian University, University of Texas, Connecticut College, Hollins University, various ACDFAs, the White Mountain Summer Dance Festival, and the 2012 ADF China in Xinxiang. He is currently on staff at Meredith College, NC School of the Arts, and Duke University. ADF faculty long time.