Faculty Bios

Our students learn in a welcoming and non-competitive environment from faculty and musicians who are experts in their fields. We invite you to read their bios below!


Glenna Batson

Over the last four decades, Glenna Batson has honed an approach to teaching that integrates dance, human movement science, and somatic movement studies. During the 1970s, she apprenticed with Irene Dowd for four years (Ideokinesis, kinesthetic anatomy). From 1987 through 2014, she introduced Somatics into dance as faculty of the American Dance Festival’s summer program and the Hollins/ADF MFA. From 2008-2016, she taught extensively in England, and in October 2018, received an honorary fellowship award for contributions to Dance Science and Somatics from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. She has been recognized for her pioneering research on improvisational dance Parkinson’s disease (2009-2014). In the last two years, she taught mainly in Ireland, co-directing the training program for the Alexander Technique Centre Galway, and guest teaching in a variety of dance-for-health projects. Now in her seventh decade, Glenna is keener than ever on sharing the power of movement as catalyst for meeting the challenges present in our world today.



Rebecca Bliss is a licensed physical therapist with a BFA in Dance from Florida State University. At Florida State, Rebecca was a member of Dance Repertory Theatre and attended ADF as a scholarship student in 2007. Upon graduating, she moved to New York City where she performed with choreographers such as Marjanie Forte. Eventually, Rebecca’s love of studying movement led her to Drexel University, where she received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2018.   

Currently, you can find Rebecca working as a PWR! certified therapist at Fyzical Therapy and Balance Centers, a local outpatient physical therapy clinic. There she enjoys working with a variety of patient populations ranging from dancers recovering from injury, to individuals with Parkinson’s Disease working to improve their balance. You can still find Rebecca performing today, as a member of The Big Red Dance Project with choreographer Gerri Houlihan. Rebecca believes dance is a  powerful instrument for exploring movement, and is excited to be a part of the Dance for Parkinson’s Program and share the joy of dance with others!


IVY and Britany Burch

Ivy Burch, a Durham native, is a choreographer, instructor and ENERGETIC dancer. She began her dance career as a six week student at ADF. She is one of the founding members of the Chuck Davis African American Dance Ensemble (AADE) and currently the co-African dance instructor for the Hayti Heritage Center, Durham NC. She has studied with many renowned and widely acclaimed African and African American Dance Masters around the world: Italo Zambo, Baba Assane, Konte, Youssouf Koumbassa, Marie Basse Wiles, Mabiba Baegne, Baba Chuck Davis, Abdel Salaam and Ronald K. Brown to name a few. She regularly attends West African dance conferences taught by various professional instructors and is committed to continued learning and sharing the rich heritage and culture from the African Diaspora.

Britany Burch began her training as a child under the direction of Baba Chuck Davis and the African American Dance Ensemble. Through the years, she has continued her training (including time at The American Dance Festival Summer Intensives), became a member of the company and has performed with various dance companies. In 2014, she received her Group Physical Training Certificate and has created a fitness/dance brand.  Creator of “Reggae-Tone”, Britany uses a combination of her fitness and dance training to focus on client specific goals in an enthusiastic and outgoing atmosphere.

Jody Cassell

JodyCassellJody Cassell has been dancing since age four. She is a dancing storyteller, teaching artist in dance, and author of the children’s book Where’s Leon? She earned a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from NYU School of the Arts and Master of Science in Dance/Movement Therapy from Hunter College in NY. Her dance and theater work started with Martha Myers, Dean Emeritus of the American Dance Festival. She performs for young children and families with her Dancing Stories! Stories Come Alive! programs and she performs the quirks of life in her Dancing Stories for Adults! Ms. Cassell served as a Master Artist with Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning through the Arts from 2003-2013. Jody also provides movement for well-being workshops in retirement and memory care facilities. Her current offerings include movement interludes to help those stranded in all-day meetings to stay focused, engaged, and motivated, as well as programs to help caregivers care for themselves. Photo by Catharine Carter. 

Toya Chinfloo

Toya Chinfloo is native of Newark , NJ. Toya was blessed to meet Baba Chuck Davis as a student of ADF during the summer of 1991. Upon her completion of her BFA at Montclair State University Toya joined AADE  the winter of 1991 as a touring member performing nationally and internationally works created by Baba Chuck Davis, Mr. Mpongo, Titos Sompa, Ronald K.Brown, Mama Kariamu Welsh, Michelle Gibson, Sherone Price and others. Mrs. Chinfloo holds a master’s degree in education from Lesley University and is a Dunham Technique Certification candidate. Toya Chinfloo has taught  and presented works at Durham Arts Council, Charlotte Ballet Dance Festival is currently the lead dance teacher for Durham Public Schools. 

Tracey Durbin

Tracey Durbin recently moved to Durham from Portland, Oregon where she has been an integral part of the Portland dance scene for 25 years. She began her training with Julie Adler and at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. At age 12 Ms. Durbin trained under Eugene Louis “Luigi” Faccuito, one of the most famous international jazz teachers of his generation. The Luigi technique became the foundation of her teaching career. Ms. Durbin has choreographed and taught for Northwest Dance Project, Body Vox Dance, Oregon Ballet Theatre and Reed College. Most recently, she was one of four choreographers chosen for the Northwest Dance Project Chopin Project with acclaimed pianist Yekwon Sunwoo and was also a featured artist in the book Beauty is Experience: Dancing 50 and Beyond.

Laura Grant

Laura Grant is a movement-based performer and educator based in Durham, NC.  After 15 years away (in MN and NYC), she recently moved back home to the Triangle.  Laura has been mindfully moving since age 3, studying various modern dance, somatic, and improvisational forms, and performing as a professional contemporary dancer in NYC and Minneapolis.  Laura holds an MS in Education from Bank Street College (NYC) as well as certifications in adult yoga, youth yoga, and infant developmental movement.  She has been teaching students ages birth-adult since 2006.  Laura’s movement and teaching practices are deeply intertwined and help her cultivate deep listening, empathy, embodied intelligence, compassion towards herself and others, curiosity, and a strong sense of play.


Gerri houlihan

American Dance Festival 2010Gerri 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 N. Y.’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 1984-1987 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 1988-1999, Ms. Houlihan was on the faculty of New World School of the Arts in Miami, Florida. 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 on the advisory board for the American Dance Festival and the American College Dance Association. Ms. Houlihan has been on the faculty of the American Dance Festival from 1981-1983, 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, Moscow and Mongolia. She is the 2005 recipient of the Balasaraswati Joy Ann Dewey Beinecke Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching from ADF, and a 2012 recipient of the Pearl S. Tyner Distinguished Professor in Teaching Award from Florida State University. She received her MFA degree in 2007 from the Hollins University/American Dance Festival MFA program.



Gaspard Louis was born and raised in Haiti. His performance experience includes touring with the cutting-edge and internationally-renowned Pilobolus Dance Theater. In addition to performing, touring, and teaching globally with Pilobolus, he collaborated on nine major dance works during this formative decade with the company. He has also choreographed for Freespace Dance Company in New Jersey and Kentucky University Dance Ensemble. He is the founder and Artistic Director of Gaspard&Dancers and currently directs the American Dance Festival’s year-round creative movement outreach program, ADF Project Dance, which provides free dance classes to Triangle-area youth. 


Courtney Owen-Muir

Courtney OM, a native from Toronto Canada, has been teaching contemporary dance classes, internationally, since 2011.  Her work has been recognized as emotionally driven and physically demanding, captivating many audiences. She has produced works for professional dance companies along the east coast, created works for competitive studios and is scheduled to share her original works with local colleges and universities this season. Courtney is a co-owner at the newly opened Threehouse Studios and heads up her own professional dance company, OM grown dancers.




Tommy Noonan and Murielle Elizéon are directors, choreographers, and performers currently based in Saxapahaw, NC. Both their individual and collaborative work has been presented extensively throughout Germany, France, Portugal, Poland, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, Belgium, Finland, and Mexico. Most recently,Tommy Noonan’s solo “John” was presented at the American Dance Festival and Murielle Elizéon choreographed the duet “Je suis belle,” comissioned by the North Carolina Museum of Art and co-created with Tommy.

They regularly teach movement and dance both internationally and locally, and are co-directors of Culture Mill, a performing arts laboratory based in Saxapahaw, NC dedicated to fostering creative community and collaboration through artist residencies, educational outreach and original artistic projects.  More on Culture Mill at www.culturemill.org

Meg Poe


Meg Poe is dedicated to health and happiness through movement and mindful living.  She is a Duke-certified Integrative Health Coach, a Registered Yoga Teacher, and a certified Pilates instructor with a Masters degree in Exercise Physiology from UNC-Chapel Hill.   She has been directly involved in educating and training students in the integration of mindful, healthy movement for over 25 years. A dedicated student comments, “Meg is a skillful practitioner herself and a masterful teacher who knows how to create an atmosphere that is relaxed, respectful, meditative, yet informal and fun. There is no pressure to perform or compete – students are free to adapt the exercises, with Meg’s guidance, to their own abilities and needs.”  PoeWellnessSolutions.com.  


Jasmine Powell

Jasmine Powell is a dance artist and educator from Hillsborough, NC who grew up in the Durham dance scene through Carolina Friends School and Collage Dance Company. She holds a BA from Oberlin College and an MFA from Hollins University in collaboration with the American Dance Festival and Frankfurt University for Music and Performing Arts in Germany. Currently, on the performing arts faculty at Cary Academy, she joyfully brings cultural history into the dance curriculum. Having worked with diasporic dance companies such as Philadanco!, The Philadelphia Dance Company, and notable choreographers including Dianne McIntyre, Milton Myers, and Ronald K. Brown, her mission investigates genre-crossing dance as an inquiry into how opposites can be embodied in each other. Jasmine currently performs locally with KT Collective Dance Company and COMPANY while engaging in her own choreographic journey with her latest NC premiere, Approximation of a Woman. Her choreography has traveled into performing arts theaters, site-specific work, film festivals, and music videos with conceptual storytelling as the foundation. Jasmine is thankful to learn and share the value in exploring the organic movement of the body’s personal story through teaching, workshops, and performances through choreographic avenues locally and internationally. www.jasminepowell.co/   Photo by John Marcus Photography


Joyce Emilie Raleigh

Joyce Emilie Raleigh (Wilmington, North Carolina) is a performing and teaching artist in Durham, North Carolina.  In the three years, since graduating from UNC at Greensboro, she has been teaching at Sandy Ridge Elementary School.  She has a wide diversity of experiences ranging from costuming for the American Dance Festival to performing at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  After moving to Durham, NC in 2016, she has pushed to become involved in the local dance scene as much as possible. This motivation brought her to ShaLeigh Dance Works in the Summer of 2018.   She inspires her fellow dancers and students to treat every moment as temporary.


Susan Saenger

Susan Saenger is a Board Certified Dance/Movement Therapist, a licensed professional counselor in the State of North Carolina, and a certified personal health and fitness trainer (https://www.spryfitnessnc.com/). Susan began dancing when she was just 5 years old and had the formative privilege to be exposed to creative movement at that early age. As a child she spent years studying ballet and modern dance. As an adult she continued her exploration into African Dance, Tai Chi and Yoga. From 1990-1992 Susan performed with Orts Theatre of Dance in Tucson AZ. From 1997-2007, Susan was a member of Choreo Collective, a Triangle-based collective for dancers and choreographers, serving as Treasurer and, later, as Co-Director. She helped produce at least 20 programs of original choreography over 10 years.  In 2011, Susan took the Mark Morris Dance for PD teacher training. She began teaching Dance for Parkinson’s with Lindsay Voorhees in 2014.


Danielle Segretto

Danielle Segretto is dedicated to helping her students understand the anatomy and kinesiology behind their movement and is passionate about helping people find joy, pride, and upliftment through their dance. She has trained with members of the Cunningham company, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Bolshoi Ballet, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.  Along with holding a BA in Dance from Winthrop University, she founded Durham School of Dance Education, a school dedicated to the dance education of children.  The program focused on holistic education of children through movement, including virtues education, pre-math, and pre-literacy development.  She also has her NC Certificate in Early Childhood Education.  She is also the proud mother of Karsten (age 9) and Anis (age 4).  


Justin Tornow

Justin Tornow is a North Carolina native, currently based in Durham, NC. She is the artistic director of COMPANY, a producer of the local artist series PROMPTS, and a co-founder and -organizer with Durham Independent Dance Artists (DIDA.) Justin’s work is often collaborative and inter-disciplinary, partnering with area composers, musicians, film and video artists, and visual artists. Her projects have been presented by CAM-Raleigh, Tanzart Atelier in Germany, 21c Hotel and Museum, UGA Dancz Center for New Music, The UNC Process Series, the Sax Open Festival in Strasbourg, France, UGA-Cortona in Cortona, Italy, Durham Independent Dance Artists (DIDA,) Triangle Dance Project, GSO Fringe Festival, DUMBO Dance Festival, CoolNY Festival, Philly Fringe, and the NC Dance Festival. In 2010, Justin received an MFA in Choreography from UNC-Greensboro; she lived and worked in NYC from 2010-2013, and relocated to Durham, NC in June 2013. Justin served as artist-in-residence at Tanzart Atelier in Kirschau, Germany in Fall 2017. She is currently part-time dance faculty at UNC-Greensboro, teaching studio courses in technique, composition, and repertory. Photo by Beth Mann.

marsha thomas

marsha-thomasMarsha Thomas has a BFA from East Carolina University and a Professional Diploma from Laban Centre London. Her work as a dancer and choreographer has appeared with the Queen City Jazz Company and Blank Slate Dance Company. After graduation Marsha worked and studied dance with the American Dance Festival and Bates Dance Festival for several years, received an Early Childhood Teaching Certificate, and began her journey of creating movement programs for young children. She has taught dance in the Triangle area, including Dancentre, 9th Street Dance, and City Ballet. Currently she is a dance teacher at ADF’s Studios, North Carolina Dance Institute, Pilates teacher at the National Humanities Center, and the Movement and Yoga teacher at her daughter’s preschool. Marsha is excited to work and present her choreography with the Tobacco Road Dance Productions in it’s third season. Today  Marsha owes her endless learning of love, process, and growth to her friends and family, and 3 lovely spirits who in their own beings can be seen as an eagle, a bunny, and a sunshine lion. 



Jose Velasquez is a Hip-hop and street dance performer from Durham, NC. Since he began his career as a dancer, Jose has not only participated in a wide range of competitions, he has had the opportunity to perform and choreograph for a variety of different artists known locally and abroad. He began teaching in 2005 and has had the opportunity to travel and teach in many different settings, from Native American reservations in Arizona to the public and private school systems in North Carolina and even universities including Duke, NC State, and Elon. He is proud of being able to help inform his community and students on the history and culture of Hip-hop and other street dances. Jose currently is teaching classes for kids and adults at Ninth Street Dance and Durham Arts Council in Durham.  Photo by Rose Miller.

Lindsay VoorHees

Lindsay Voorhees is an occupational therapist (OTR/L), currently working on the spinal cord team at WakeMed Rehab in Raleigh. Trained in ballet from middle school through college, Lindsay has continued to expand her dance repertoire, choreograph, and teach in various capacities, including repertory groups and a therapeutic camp setting for children with serious emotional and behavioral disorders. She believes that, as an embodied creative art, dance has great potential to positively impact mental and physical health, and she is committed to making dance accessible to everyone. Lindsay has been leading the Dance for Parkinson’s program with Susan Saenger since 2014.



Ronald West

ron west1

Ronald West is a graduate of the North Carolina State University / College of Design / School of Architecture and received a Bachelor’s Degree in 2007 for Environmental Design in Architecture. Ronald was mentored and trained under Kirstie Spadie of the North Carolina Dance Institute on a full scholarship while attending the College of Design. He has studied and danced as a company member of the Black Box Dance Theater lead by Artistic Curator, Michelle Pearson; an adjunct company member at the Dance Exchange in Washington D.C. lead by artistic director, Cassie Meador; and has studied at ‘The PULSE’ student and teacher workshops in Atlanta and New York. A natural study, Ronald began assisting six months into his training and went on to teach by the end of his first year. He continues to define and explore a vast range of movement in his classes, in which cutting edge contemporary, hip hop and jazz styles are explored, while his professional work pushes social boundaries with avant garde ideology and uses language, both verbal and nonverbal, to connect to each dancer and audience member. His work has been dubbed “lexi-ography” conceptually, while the movement is progressively athletic, compelling and innovative. To add, he has danced professionally in Modern Dance works, both locally and nationally, under choreographers Diego Carrasco Schoch, Kate Davis, Courtney Greer, Justin Tornow, Killian Manning and Michelle Pearson. He has had works featured and selected in the North Carolina Dance Festival, the Durham Independent Dance Artists premiere season, the North Carolina State University, the upcoming independent documentary, Earth Caster, about the life of Thomas Sayre and has partnered with the North Carolina Symphony. Internationally and most recently Ronald traveled with two colleagues in April 2016 to China to work as a diplomat of the U.S. State Department with an overarching theme of disabilities advocacy to truly use dance as a universal language and test the powers of connection with dancers, special needs children and everyday citizens. He has become one of North Carolina’s most sought after choreographers and master teachers within the University System, dance studio circuit, public and private school systems and he continues to broaden his palette by branching into the commercial music video scene, including choreography for vocalist: Jean Morisson, musician: Sean Magee, the band: Citizen Shade and most recently adding Rupaul’s Drag Race All-Star: Ginger Minj for her debut album.

Beyond choreographing for the previously mentioned, in 2011, Ronald founded BLACK IRISH. BLACK IRISH is focused on the generation of innovative movement, visual design and conceptual content, while utilizing connections with other progressive artists in all genres of the arts, with the simultaneous intent of bringing the dance and greater community together through the love of dance, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or religion. To date, BLACK IRISH has partnered with the band, Citizen Shade; videographer, Michelle Lotker; hand pan musician, Jeremy Lewis; bass guitarist, Ian O’Hare; Jewelry Designer, Rock Kershaw; videographer, Griffin Hart Davis; fashion designer, Kate Erwin; choreographer, Michelle Pearson; videographer, Clark Ivers; and Cellist, Justin Mackey.

megan Yankee

Megan Yankee is a dancer, experimental choreographer, and movement educator who holds an MFA in Dance from Texas Woman’s University.  She has taught dance online as well as in a range of face-to-face settings including non-profit dance studios, public and private school residencies, private lessons, dance festivals, intensives, and collegiate programs. Her movement lineage includes an eclectic mix of contemporary dance techniques, gymnastics, colorguard, contact improvisation, as well as somatic and release techniques. She has presented work in Kampala, Uganda; Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; Belfast, Northern Ireland; and in festivals across the US. She has performed in works by Amie LeGendre, Larry Keigwin, Michael Foley, Christie Nelson, Jordan Fuchs, Sandy Mathern-Smith and Sarah Gamblin. For more information, visit meganyankee.dance.