Faculty Biographies

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Vlada Kysselova

Ballet 3B, 4A, 4B, 5, Pointe 5, Variations 4B, 5

Vlada Kysselova, also the Artistic Director of International Ballet’s pre-professional company, is originally from Kiev, Ukraine. She graduated from the Kiev State College of Choreography and holds a bachelor’s degree from Kiev National Linguistics University and a master’s degree with honors in Dance Pedagogy and Choreography from the Ukrainian Academy of Dance at International Slavic University. She danced and toured as a soloist with the National Theater of Opera and Ballet in Kiev, Ukraine, and as a principal dancer with Kiev Theatre of Classical Ballet and Ballet Classique de Paris in France before immigrating to the United States in 2001.

Since May 2004, Vlada has choreographed and staged full-length productions for International Ballet such as Francesca da Rimini, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Lady and the Hooligan, Giselle, La Sylphide, Coppelia, Don Quixote, Paquita, and numerous short works including original choreography for the South CarolinaRegional Ballet festival, as well as numerous collaborative works with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra. A founding instructor for International Ballet Academy since its inception in 2003, she has coached and traveled with students for such prestigious ballet competitions as Youth America Grand Prix (Regional and NYC Finals), Serge Lifar International Ballet Competition (Kiev, Ukraine), and the USA International Ballet Competition (Jackson, MS), and her students have received multiple top placements, including “Regional Grand Prix,” in YAGP regional as well as NYC final competitions, and Most Outstanding School in 2008.


Victoria Yanchuk

Ballet 3B, 4, 5, Pointe 4, 5, Variations 3B

Ms. Yanchuck graduated from Kiev Ballet Academy, Ukraine. In her career as a dancer she has performed a large repertoire of roles both nationally and internationally. She has worked with Donetsk Opera and Ballet Theater of Ukraine, Vadim Pisarev Russian Ballet and the Russian Ballet Company of Delaware. Ms. Yanchuck has also toured with the Soviet ballet troupe, “Stars of Russian Ballet” and has performed at the Nervi International Ballet Stars Festival in Genoa, Italy.

Ms. Yanchuck began teaching ballet in 1996 when she joined Nevada Festival Ballet Company of Reno. In 2011, she joined Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC as a Summer Preparatory Program Instructor, where she taught Historical Dance and Preparatory Ballet.  Ms. Yanchuk still regularly teaches audition classes as well as summer program courses for the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC. Ms. Yanchuck completed the professional program “Method of Classical Dance Teaching” at the Vagonova Ballet Academy in Russia in March 2018.


Irina Ushakova

Ballet 5,Variations 4A

Irina Ushakova received her training from the Perm State Ballet School and was a principal dancer for 19 years for major ballet companies both in Russia and in the United States. Ms. Ushakova is a Bronze and Silver Medal winner in two international ballet competitions. Her repertory includes many classical ballet roles, Balanchine choreography, contemporary works, and modern performances.

In 1989, she toured the United States with the Donetsk Ballet, followed by a tour of Israel and Turkey with the Bolshoi Ballet.  Since 2002, Ms.Ushakova has been a faculty member of the Dance department at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville, South Carolina, where she is known for her staging of many character and classical ballet works. In 2007, she graduated from Chelyabinsk State Pedagogical University (Russia) with a Master’s Degree in Dance and Education.


Liz Blackwood

Ballet 1, 2B, 3A, SPG, Adult Ballet, Adult Program Director 

A native of Greenville, South Carolina, Liz Blackwood studied with Josée Beauséjour in Montreal, Canada where she successfully passed dancer and teacher exams with the Cecchetti Society of Canada. While in Montréal, she also worked with Odette Lalonde, Suzanne Plante, Victoria Yakobov, and other renowned teachers. She has attended workshops at Canada’s National Ballet School, l’École supérieure de ballet du Québec, Richmond Ballet, and other locations. She’s worked with numerous schools and choreographed dances for productions including The Wizard of Oz and La Boutique Fantasque.

Ms. Blackwood most recently taught for Ballet Spartanburg before returning to International Ballet Academy in 2015, where she teaches many intermediate level classes, including pre-pointe training, beginning pointe, as well as Open Adult classes and IB Summer Camps.

© Jerry Finley Photography


Josha Williams

Mommy & Me, Pre-Ballet, Ballet 1, 2A, Adult Ballet,
Trainee Program Director

Josha Williams has been a dance educator in the Greenville community for the past 15 years. After completing her formal dance training at North Carolina School of the Arts, she returned to her hometown to begin her professional dancing career with Carolina Ballet Theatre in 2004 and teaching for Barbara Selvy’s School of Carolina Ballet Theatre. She continued training under the direction of Hernan Justo and the mentorship of Anita Pacylowski Justo, while dancing and teaching. One of the highlights of her career was having the opportunity to work with Alonzo King and to perform his originally choreographed piece, “MAP.”

Josha served as one of Carolina Ballet Theatre’s lead teachers for the outreach programs as well as an independent teaching artist in Greenville County Schools for over seven years. She has taught many levels but is best known for her love of teaching tiny ballerinas and specialized adult ballet/strengthening classes. Josha’s passion for exercise, fitness, and overall wellness is now stronger than ever. She currently works as an instructor for Greenville’s Pure Barre and has been since it’s opening in 2012. Josha is thrilled to start this coming year at International Ballet Academy teaching young ballerinas.


Lydia Sanders

Ballet 2A, 2B, 3A

Lydia Sanders was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina. She began her serious ballet training at the USC Dance Conservatory, under the guidance of Susan Anderson and Stacey Calvert. She continued formally training at Southeastern School of Ballet, studying under Hillary Krieger-Toth and Gabor Toth and at International Ballet Academy under Vlada Kysselova, Irina Ushakova, and Victoria Yanchuck. Lydia has attended summer programs with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Boston Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Carolina Ballet, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and Charlotte Ballet. Lydia graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2018 with a BA in Dance Performance and Choreography and a Psychology minor. In the USC Dance Company, she performed in several works by George Balanchine, including the principal role in Walpurgisnachtand soloist roles in Raymonda, Who Cares, andStars and Stripes. Lydia also danced the title role as the Firebird in Susan Anderson’s production of The Firebird.Post-graduation she joined Virginia National Ballet, where she danced a variety of soloist roles in choreography by artistic director Rafik Hegab. Lydia will be joining Ballet Spartanburg for the 2019-2020 season.

In addition to dancing herself, Lydia has a passion for teaching and is thrilled to be joining IBA’s faculty this year. She has been cultivating her love of teaching since she was 14 and has not stopped since, working as a teacher for Aletheia Dance Inc., Southeastern School of Ballet, USC Dance Conservatory, and Virginia National Ballet School. Lydia has experience working with students from the age of 2-20 and is excited to share her knowledge in an environment that shaped her into the person she is at International Ballet Academy.

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Lauren Russ

Pre-Ballet A, B, Ballet 1

Lauren Russ received her training at International Ballet under Vlada Kysselova, Victoria Yanchuck, and Irina Ushakova. She danced five seasons with the IB company. She has performed in The Nutcracker as Spanish, Snow, and Waltz of the Flowers, in the Waltz of the Hours and Czardas in Coppélia, and in numerous mainstage performances, as well as in community outreach events such as Storytime Ballet at the Greenville County Library. Lauren attended  Ballet Magnificat's Summer Dance Intensive in Jackson, MS, and volunteered and performed at Greenville's Artisphere. She is a student at Bob Jones University. 

© Jerry Finley Photography


Kristin Chester

Pre-Ballet, Ballet 2A, Ballet 2B

Kristin is a graduate from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree cum laude in Dance Performance, and her dance K-12 certification. She received most of her training from the Griffin Ballet Theatre in Georgia, under the direction of Mitch Flanders. After graduating from UGA, Kristin had the privilege to dance with the Carolina Ballet Theatre for two seasons under the direction of Hernan Justo. As a professional dancer, Kristin has performed such roles as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Clara, and Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty, Wendy in Peter Pan, and Kitri in Don Quixote. She had the honor to dance with the Columbia City Ballet in their productions of Aladdin, Lion King, and Dracula. Kristin has had the privilege to work with such choreographers as Chet Walker, Dwight Rhoden, and Jacques Heim. In 2015, Kristin and her husband Sam were invited to travel to Japan and teach for the Yoko Kasai Dance Studio. Kristin is very excited to join the prestigious faculty at International Ballet. 


Megan Hannon

Contemporary 2B, 3, 4, 5

Megan started dancing at the age of three and studied at the Fine Arts Center under Jan Woodward when her family relocated to Greenville her senior year of high school. Megan attended The University of the Arts and graduated with a BFA in dance performance and choreography. While in school, Megan performed in several works and also choreographed her own work and in  collaboration with different artists. Following graduation Megan decided to move back to South Carolina and has continued to teach and present work. Megan is excited to grow and continue to share her passion for the art of dance with those around her.

© Jerry Finley Photography


Virginia Murphy

Ballet 2A

Virginia Murphy began dancing at the age of three in her hometown of Metro Atlanta. She went on to receive a BA in Dance Performance and Choreography – Ballet Emphasis from the University of South Carolina, graduating in 2015. While at the University of South Carolina, she trained under Susan Anderson, Stacey Calvert, Tanya Wideman-Davis, and Thaddeus Davis; and performed in numerous mainstage productions. After graduating, she performed with Zoetic Dance Ensemble in Atlanta, The Asheville Ballet in Asheville, North Carolina, and The United States International Ballet in Wilmington, NC. Virginia performed multiple lead roles including Dewdrop in The Nutcracker, Evil Step Mom in Cinderella, and Tin Man in Wizard of Oz. Virginia loves helping inspire and guide the next generation of dancers. In addition to teaching dance, Virginia is also a certified Middle School Science teacher. Virginia is very excited to share her passion for dance with the students at IB!

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Jessica Springer

Pre Ballet A, B, Ballet 2

Jessica Springer was raised in Central Florida and began her Classical Ballet training at Southern Ballet Theatre. From there she spent five years at the Russian Academy of Ballet and studied under Iryna Depler in the Vaganova Method of Ballet. Jessica has danced as a soloist and in the Corps under the direction of world-renowned artists and performed in numerous Ballets with Ballet Fedotov, Central Florida Ballet and Orlando City Ballet. Among her favorites are Giselle, Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella. Jessica has been teaching ballet for seventeen years and has taught for many reputable schools in Central Florida. She has experience teaching all levels of Ballet, from Mommy and Me through Adults. Jessica has extensive experience teaching young children; she has taught for fourteen years at the Orlando Ballet School, working with the Young Dancers Division and as a teacher for the STEPS outreach program. Jessica is passionate about helping children develop a solid foundation in Ballet and she hopes to nourish in them a love for Ballet and music that will benefit them a for lifetime.