ADF is fortunate to have some of the finest dance musicians in the country on its roster. We invite you to read about each of our musicians below.
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, and 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 US. 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. He graduated from the ENA (school of national arts in Cuba) in 1985. He also studied with the National Folkloric de Cuba with Regino Jimenes and Pelladito, both having taught at ENA. After he graduated, he became a professor and instructor in the school of the arts and the house of the culture in Havana, Cuba. Then he started a professional career for different companies as an actor, dancer, and choreographer. The companies he worked with included Teatro Caribeno (Cuba), Teatro Orile (Cuba), Compania National De Danza (Ecuador), and Rojo Oscuro (Ecuador).
In 1996, Vladimir was the Artistic Director and Choreographer for the election ceremonies Miss Ecuador. Also he has been a teacher, instructor, and musician accompanist for the American Dance Festival (Durham, North Carolina) since 2005. He propagandized a movie (El Accidente De La Libertad) and a co-production with Germany and Venezuela. Vladimir was part of many different groups and bands like Savuka Son, Havana Express, Coral y Esmeralda, Los Gatos, Las Manos Del Sol, Solazo, Western Mambo, Lenny Marcus Jazz Trio, Jazz Trio Michel and Vladimir, Latin Clave, and many others. His specialties include Latin and Afro-Cuban music, contemporary Latin and Afro-Cuban Folkloric Dance, and traditional African Diaspora rhythms.
Natalie Gilbert is a pianist, accompanist, composer, and teacher and was ADF Music Director from 1981 to 2011. Natalie is also a nationally certified massage therapist and bodyworker licensed in NC. She has an active piano teaching studio with students of all ages, emphasizing improvisation and all styles of music. She currently plays for dance classes at Duke University and for the Carolina Ballet summer dance intensive. She also was music coordinator at OSU Department of Dance and a founding board member of the International Guild of Musicians in Dance. Music degrees: Oberlin (BA), Ohio State University (MA).
Natalie lived in NYC for 16 years, freelancing as a cocktail pianist, and was on the faculty of the NYU Tisch School of the Arts Dance. A 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. Past faculty positions: C.I.D. in Paris, New World School of the Arts in Miami, and Carolina Friends Middle School. Also, part of ADF/Korea from 1990 through 1992. nataliegilbert.com
John Hanks has been ADF faculty since 1984, attended ADF/Seoul (Korea) in 1990-1991, and ADF/Henan (China) in 2012 and 2014. He is Music Coordinator 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. He has released three albums of music for dance: Here Come the Drums, Drumjazz, and Percussion Jams.
Andy Hasenpflug has had the great pleasure of working as a musician in the dance world since 1989. He is the dance music director at Slippery Rock University and the American Dance Festival. As a composer and dance musician, he has collaborated with countless choreographers and filmmakers over the years. Andy also works as a drummer and percussionist, having played with the United States Air Force Band, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and too many others to count. andyhasenpflug.com & soundcloud.com/andy-hasenpflug
Photo by Ben Viatori
Joyce Lindsey is a Chicago native. She received her BA from Denison University in 2014 and her MM in Music Production, Technology and Innovation at Berklee Valencia in 2019. She has dedicated twelve years of her life studying and practicing live performance, music production, sound design, and multiple world percussion instruments such as djembe, dunduns, congas, and doumbek. Joyce started her training as a dance accompanist as a student musician at the Doane Dance Department at Denison University in 2010. She also attended the American Dance Festival as a music intern for four consecutive summers between 2011 – 2014. Since 2015, Joyce has simultaneously built her career as an educator, dance accompanist, live performer, and music producer/sound designer. She has been a resident teaching artist at Discover Music Discover Life for seven years. Joyce has worked as a professional dance accompanist providing live percussion for multiple dance studios, universities, and art schools in Chicago such as the Lou Conte Dance Studio, Columbia College, Northwestern University, ChiArts, Chicago Academy for the Art and DanceWork. In September of 2022, Joyce became the Music Director of the Hyde Park School of Dance. Joyce continues to provide live percussion for modern and ballet dance classes at Columbia College, Hyde Park School of Dance, and the Chicago Movement Collective. Finally, Joyce is also an active member of Ayodele Drum and Dance, which is a Chicago based, all-female dance and drum company that studies and performs dances and music from the African diaspora.
Photo by EdVetté Wilson Jones
West Oxking a multi-instrumental sound wizard. She crafts improvised songs-spells, singer-songwriter works, lo-fi jams, metalcore riffs, and hopes to one day write a pizza delivery musical/comic. She has been a dance accompanist for about a decade.
Brittany Padilla is a music performer, composer, producer, and educator residing in Denton, TX. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music with a minor in Spanish from the University of North Texas and a Masters of Education in Instructional Design and Technology from West Texas A&M University. She is currently a full-time dance accompanist and music educator at Texas Woman’s University. She performs and composes in collaboration with local dance companies and individual artists around the United States for various workshops and festivals (ACDA, TDIF, MALCS etc.) as well as other colleges and universities in DFW (UTA, TCU, etc.) As a multi-instrumentalist, she plays and records an array of acoustic and digital instruments with emphasis on percussion and voice. Brittany works with Ableton Live, a software for producing music and is a certified Ableton Specialist through Berklee College of Music.
Photo by Jesse Scroggins
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.
Photo by Ben McKeown
Del Ward is a multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter hailing from Greensboro, N.C. He has been playing music, or at least trying to, ever since he can remember. He has been a dance accompanist at ADF since 2015 working closely with Andy Hasenpflug each year, and is extremely excited to be returning for another year. Del has been employed at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro School of Dance since 2014, and has been teaching Music for Dance workshops around North Carolina at the university and high school level. Besides playing for dance, Del has also been in a multitude of bands whose genres range from Funk to Hard Indie Rock; sometimes fronting them as the lead vocalist and other times as the lead guitarist or bassist. Del has his own solo career and is planning on releasing an EP this year and going on an East Coast tour this summer. Though specializing in guitar looping, Del has composed multiple original pieces for choreographers for years; all self-recorded and produced playing Guitar, Bass, Piano, Synth, Vocals, and Drums. You can find all of Del’s music on all streaming platforms under, “Del Ward.” You can also follow him on instagram, @delwardmusic. When Del isn’t playing music you can find him in the middle of the woods looking at trees and mushrooms.
Ken Ray Wilemon is a drummer/percussionist/vocalist who uses loopers, delays, samplers, and other strange devices to create morphing electronica for class and beyond. Ken Ray is currently at UNCSA and is a veteran ADF’er with trips to China and Korea as highlights with ADF’s International series.
VSPRTN is a DJ/Producer from Durham, NC. VSPRTN is known for their eclectic essential DJ style infusing hip-hop, techno,deep house, and afrobeats; genre bending with an electronic basis. Ves’ unique approach to music is originally profound and newly familiar.