Faces of ACDT


Susan Collard


Susan has been dancing all her life. She grew up studying Classical Ballet and was introduced to Modern Dance at the age of 20 through a graduate student at Temple University in Philadelphia. She transitioned into Modern Dance after many seasons of study at the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC and The Colorado Dance Festival in Boulder, CO.

She’s traveled extensively, deriving her choreographic inspiration from diverse cultural experiences. And has toured with her company Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre to Cuba, France, Mexico, Canada and Colombia — creating international exchanges, with dance artists from these countries, along the way.

Recognized for her choreography inspired by female artists and international collaborations, Susan has also choreographed for film and theatre. She is currently working with international artists on a new collaborative venture White Dog Dance Project International.

Susan is the Founder and Director of the New Studio of Dance, and the creator of the Asheville Fringe Festival and 48 Hours Dance Project, as well as Asheville’s first black box theatre The BeBe.

Photo: Sandee Johnson

Giles Collard


Giles is the Co-Director of Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre. He’s lived abroad in France and Israel, and has performed internationally. Giles currently teaches Modern and Boy’s Dance at The New Studio of Dance in Asheville. In addition to dance, Giles is a fencer and instructs students in Foil and Saber Technique. He has performed with ACDT since 1986 and most recently premiered his work at the Asheville Fringe Festival and Men Dancing IV.


Photo: Nick Adams

Addie Cleveland

Addie grew up in Yellowstone National Park and has been dancing for most of her life. She studied and performed with members of the Yellowstone Ballet Company until the age of twelve, when her family moved east to Vermont. She attended Middlebury College in Vermont and graduated in 2014 with a Bachelors Degree, majoring in dance. During her time at Middlebury, she studied with Andrea Olsen, Penny Campbell, Tiffany Rhynard, Catherine Cabeen, and Christal Brown. Addie dove into Performance Improvisation at Middlebury and has continued to explore improvisational techniques ever since. She attended the Seattle Festival of Improvisational Dance in 2014 and the Movement Intensive in Compositional Improvisation in 2017. In 2018, she started taking classes at ACDT and facilitating improvisation workshops. She is thrilled and honored to dive back into contemporary dance with ACDT this year.

Photo: Sandee Johnson

Sharon Cooper

Sharon Cooper began dancing at the age of five at Art-Is-House in Winston-Salem, NC. She later trained at UNC School of the Arts, starting in the afterschool program and then the Modern Dance high school program. In 2000, she graduated with honors from UNC-Charlotte with a BA in Dance and Communication Studies. Sharon has danced and choreographed with ACDT from 2000-2005 and again in 2010-present, performing in the US, Mexico and Cuba. She is also a co-founder and member of Accidentals Asheville, an improvisation based movement company. Sharon is excited for future work with ACDT.

Photo: Sandee Johnson

Sara Derting

Sara Derting grew up in Alaska dancing with Alaska Dance Theatre. When Sara was in high school, she performed and traveled with the company. After high school Sara went on to graduate from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts with a BFA in Contemporary Dance. In 2011 Sara danced in Charlotte, NC with Kinetic Works. In the summer of 2012 Sara joined Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre where she has been performing, choreographing and instructing. In 2015 Sara became a co-founder and member of the Accidentals, an improvisational dance company in Asheville. Sara is looking forward to what ACDT will be doing next.
Photo: Sandee Johnson

Maddy Koch

Maddy Koch grew up in Boone, NC where she danced through high school and at Appalachian State University for a semester before transferring to Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield IA. She studied Media and Communications with an emphasis in film. Dancing was limited in the small town of Fairfield, so Maddy turned to producing her own work and training at a local studio. She became a CrossFit instructor and yoga teacher. After graduating she moved back to Boone and continued her formal dance education at Appalachian State before going to the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC. ADF inspired her to move to New York City where she lived for a year and a half and spent a season dancing for Locomotive Artistries. After deciding NYC wasn’t for her, Maddy wanted to take a break from dance. She moved to Nosara, Costa Rica where she surfed and taught yoga till moving to Asheville in 2017. Beginning to miss dance, Maddy began to take class with ACDT and joined the company in April 2018. Maddy now lives in Black Mountain with her partner and their fur babies. She’s a massage therapist in private practice in downtown Asheville.

Photo: Sandee Johnson

Melissa Wilhoit

Melissa Wilhoit began her dance training at Arlington Center for Dance at the age of five and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from George Mason University. Melissa studied Teaching Methodology under Risa Steinberg in New York City, and completed the Professional Studies Program with the José Limón Dance Company additionally interning with the company and performing Limón, Sokolow, and Weidman repertory. Highlights of Melissa’s career include dancing with Crossroads Dance Project in Washington, D.C. as well as for Diane Yates Biggs and Deborah Jinza Thayer and with and Buglisi Dance Theatre for the ‘Table of Silence’ project in NYC. Melissa’s choreography has been performed by Crossroads Dance Project, Horizons Dance Company, Breath of Heaven Gospel Theatre, and Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre, and has been presented in NYC at Soundance, the International Young Choreographer’s Showcase, the Puffin Room, the José Limón Institute, the Whitney Altria, Chelsea Piers, the Time Life Hispanic Heritage Celebration, Arts in Bushwick, Secret Project Robot, Chez Bushwick, and Grace Exhibition Space and in Asheville on the Hendersonville Ballet and at the BeBe Theatre.

Photo: Sandee Johnson

Ciera Budge, Guest Artist

Ciera Budge was born and raised in the Central Valley of California where she trained at local dance studios. To further her training, she moved to New Mexico at the age of 17 where she received her modern dance training and continued to cultivate her artistry and choreographic vision. She then moved to Asheville, NC where she joined ACDT as a company member in the fall of 2018.

ACDT Board of Directors

Jim Julien

Joe Karpen

Dena Gettleman

Rob Resnick

Rona Resnick