aerial dance 

D'AIR

PROJECT 

Our People

D'AIR takes safety and quality education very seriously.  We went through a rigorous process in 2013/14 to become one of the first nationally recognized Circus Arts Teacher Training Programs by ACE, American Circus Educators organization.  All of our aerial dance instructors have gone through our in house training program which includes intensive training, continuing education, and a rigorous evaluation. 

Staff and Instructors

Nicole Mermans

Executive Director, Aerial Dance Instructor

Nicole Mermans holds a masters in business specializing in marketing and non-profit management form UGA (2001). Although Nicole started formal dance training at age 5, she never found her niche until 1999 when she met her mentor Susan Murphy and began studying aerial dance.  In 2002 Nicole was able to combine her passion for dance and management skills as she was hired by Murphy to help her open Canopy Studio, an aerial dance and performance arts center in Athens, GA. During her four years with Canopy, Nicole helped create a successful community arts organization, which continues to thrive today, as business manager, aerial dance instructor and performer/choreographer for the aerial dance repertoire company.  After her time at Canopy, Nicole spent several months working with a circus outreach program in South Africa called Zip Zap, solidifying her desire to work with at-risk youth.  Upon returning to the states, Nicole reconnected with her aerial dance partner Andrea Fors in Atlanta, GA and the two began teaching and performing around the city which eventually led to opening the doors of D’AIR in the Fall of 2007.  As founding member and executive director of D’AIR, artistic co-director, aerial dance instructor, choreographer and performer, Nicole Mermans balances many different skills and talents.  Nicole has had the opportunity to train with many professionals over the years, Susan Murphy, Elsie Smith and Serenity Smith-Forchion being her most influential mentors.  In 2013 Nicole, together with Andrea Fors and Rain Anya, developed a rigorous in house teacher training program that was one of the first to be nationally recognized in 2015 by ACE, American Youth Educators organization as a safe and quality program.

Beth Del Nero

Aerial Dance Instructor: Youth, Teens & Adults

Beth Del Nero has been instructing aerial dance with The D'Air Project since 2010.  She teaches children, teens, and adults (both fabrics and trapeze) and has recently embarked on D'Air's pilot teacher training program. Beth's aerial training began in 2006 at Canopy Studio in Athens, GA, under the direction of Susan Murphy.  When D'AIR opened it's doors in Atlanta in 2008 she began studying under director Nicole Mermans and Andrea Fors.  Beth has been a part of D'AIR's professsional performance company since it's inception in 2009, and has appeared in such productions as Views, Barriers, Untamed, Shadows of Doubt, and the collaboration project Exposed in the summer of 2014.  Beth continues to expand her aerial training by taking privates and workshops with renowned instructors such as Rain Willson, Fred 'Deb, Amie Hancock, Ally Cooper, Cohdi Harrel, and Serenity Smith.  While Beth loves dancing in the air on various apparatus, she still loves dancing on the ground and has been a student, instructor, and performer in the dance world for many years. She has studied ballet, pointe, jazz, contemporary, modern, and even a little tap and hip-hop.  She has taught numerous ballet, jazz, and contemporary classes and workshops. Her early performing experience includes working with Ginny King & Bacchus Productions (corporate/theme party entertainment), Dance Brasil (samba/latin dance), Gathering Wild (modern dance), amongst others. She has also been with Atlanta's Dames Aflame showgirls since 2004 and continues to perform with and choreograph for that troupe on a regular basis. 

Jazz Jackson

Aerial Dance Instructor: Youth & Teens

Jazz Jackson is a Pilates Instructor and dancer/choreographer with training in ballet/pointe, modern, African, jazz and aerial dance.  She began her adventure at D’AIR as an adult student in 2009 then became a teen mentor in 2011 and instructor in 2013. Jazz is also a graduate of Brain-Compatible Dance Education where she trained in creative teaching methods developed by Anne Green Gilbert.  She holds a bachelors degree from University of Georgia, Athens, GA in Journalism and a Dance minor. She is extremely grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the important service D'AIR provides for children, teens, adults and the Atlanta community at-large!

Shel Swenson

Aerial Dance Instructor: Adult Fitness & Adult Fabrics

Shel began her dance training in Lincoln, NE, and has been performing with various ballet and modern companies since age 5. After moving to Austin, TX to pursue a Ph.D. in Mathematics, she was a soloist with Austin Dance Ensemble 2003 - 2007 and was a soloist and founding member of Austin Classical Ballet 2006 - 2010. Shel started studying aerial dance with Blue Lapis Light in Austin and continued her studies with D’AIR after moving to Atlanta in 2010.  Shel joined the company in 2012 and  has been teaching adult aerial dance fitness and aerial fabrics since 2013. When she is not dancing, Shel conducts research in computational molecular biology in the School of Mathematics at Georgia Tech.

Fareedah Aleem

Aerial Dance Instructor: Adult Fitness, Youth & Teens

Fareedah Aleem, aka "Free" is a professional dancer/choreographer from Atlanta, GA. Originally from Los Angeles, CA, she always had a love for and natural ability for dance. She began her professional dance career in 2003 after appearing in the video for the smash hit single "Shake like a Salt Shaker" by rap duo The Ying Yang Twins. Since then she has toured the States and Internationally with various artists including Arrested Development, John Legend, LL Cool J, T Pain and many more. Her dance repertoire includes African, modern, ballet, burlesque, hip hop, static trapeze and aerial fabrics. She currently teaches adult aerial fitness and youth aerial dance classes at D’AIR.  

Jennifer Harvey

Aerial Dance Instructor: Teens

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Haimanot (Haimi) Haile

CCP Program Coordinator

Haimi Haile, an immigrant from Ethiopia, has been working with D'AIR since 2010 initially as liaison to the refugee community through her work with IRC and since 2015 as project coordinator of the Clarkeston Community Project, a program she helped get off the ground at D'AIR.  Haimi has served the refugee and immigrant community in the Metro-Atlanta area in many different capacities through work with resettling agencies and faith-based organizations.  Her focus and passion is working with youth and teens.  Currently, Haimi is pursuing her degree in Education at Georgia State University (GSU) and continues to work with DAIR/CCP to foster a welcoming environment to refugees and immigrants and creating cultural exchange opportunities for American born and refugee and immigrant students.

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Board Members

Amanda Walk

Board President

Susan Bailey

Board Vice President

Anna McCall

Board Treasurer

Anna McCall is both a dance enthusiast as well as an accountant.  She received her bachelor of science in accounting from Hampton University and currently works at Jackson Spalding, one of the largest independent communications firms in the Southeast.  When she is not crunching numbers, Anna is dancing.  She has been salsa dancing since 2003 and is currently an instructor with SALSAtlanta.  Anna enjoys watching and trying all types of dance styles.  Dance is a wonderful catalyst for comradery and brings unlimited amounts of joy. 

Kevin Mobley

Board Member

Chief Executive Officer of The Ian Thomas Group, LLC Mr. Mobley is a Six Sigma Black Belt with fifteen years experience creating software systems for Fortune 1000 companies in the entertainment, financial services, government, retail and travel sectors. Mr. Mobley is the Chief Executive Officer of The Ian Thomas Group, LLC (ITg) where he is responsible for strategic direction and implementation of Software Performance Engineering services. ITG provides strategic and tactical software performance engineering and deployment services to organizations deploying complex software systems. Bank of America, Capital One and Bank Leumi are leveraging The Ian Thomas Group’s services and methodology during the replacement of their retail software architectures. 

Robert Simmons

Board Member

Robert Simmons is a computer programmer for an insurance software company. He’s worked for the same company for a little over 18 years. Prior to his current position he worked at the Governor's office in the Department of Community Relations under Zell Miller. He has also dabbled in other businesses including limousine service, tow truck service, rental property, multi-level marketing, and management. He joined D’AIR’s board in 2007 in response to a request from a friend when the organization was still a just a vision and has been a part ever since. 

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Founding Members

Andrea Fors

Founding Member

Andrea Fors was an instrumental part of the founding of D'AIR.  As Nicole Mermans' dance trapeze partner since 2000, the two continued on a journey together for many years.  As co-artistic of D'AIR Aerial Dance Company from its inception until 2014 and master aerial dance and fitness instructor, she is dearly missed as her journey has now taken her to the beautiful islands of Hawaii.  Andrea Fors continues to be close to our hearts and still works with the Company from afar booking shows and events.

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