Faculty Biography's

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Vlada Kysselova

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

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, Pointe 5

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, 2A, 2B, 3A, 3B, Pointe 3B, SPG, Conditioning, Adult Ballet

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 IBA Summer Camps.

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Josha Williams

Mommy & Me, Pre-Ballet, Ballet 1, 2A, 2B

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 1, 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

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. 


Gabriel Paluszak

Boys Ballet, Ballet 1

Gabriel trained at International Ballet and performed with the company for six seasons, two of them as a professional. He danced the principal role of Franz in Coppélia, in numerous soloist roles in The Nutcracker,  and in Giselle’s “Peasant Pas;” and he performed in numerous lead roles in excerpts from Don Quixote, La Bayadere, Swan Lake, Markitenka, Fairy Doll, Little Humpback Horse, Sleeping Beauty, La Fille mal gardee, and Nayada and the Fisherman. He performed in original contemporary works by Clarence McDorman, Alexander Tressor, and Juliana Jordan. He danced with Ballet Magnificat’s Pre-Professional Level in full productions of Face to Face, The Prodigal’s Journey, and The Scarlet Cord, and he appeared as a dancer in the book trailer for the #1 New York Times Bestseller Serafina and the Splintered Heart by Robert Beatty, which premiered on Entertainment Weekly. Gabriel placed third in the Senior Classical Division at the Youth America Grand Prix in Atlanta, and he earned a Teaching Certificate from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. He teaches Ballet I and Boys’ Class at IBA and will be assisting the Artistic Director and Production Manager during the 2020-2021 season.


Megan Hannon

Ballet 1, Contemporary 2, 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.


Tracy Vogt

Contemporary 4, 5

Originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, Tracy started her dance training at Little’s Dance Studio at age 3. She attended the School for the Performing and Visual Arts where she was given scholarships to study at the Erie Civic Ballet School (Lake Erie Ballet) and the Erie Bayfront Ballet. She received scholarships and attended the PA Governor’s School for the Arts, Jacob’s Pillow Modern Intensive, Point Park Summer Dance and the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. She was also a scholarship student at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center in New York, NY, where she was personally chosen to demonstrate Graham technique by School Director, Denise Jefferson. 

Her professional experience includes Assistant Rehearsal Director, Principal Dancer and Masterclass Instructor with the Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO) for twelve years, Rehearsal Director and Principal Dancer for the Wylliams Henry Contemporary Dance Company in Kansas City, MO, Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theater and Verb Ballets in Ohio, under the direction of Hernando Cortez. She received the Philadelphia Rocky Award for Dance Excellence, and has performed works by Martha Graham, Paul Taylor, David Parsons, Elisa Monte, Talley Beatty, George Faison, Bill T. Jones, Dianne McIntyre, Dwight Rhoden and many other contemporary choreographers. 

Her choreography was selected and performed at RDA SE festival in 2011 and 2019 and her contemporary choreography placed 1st, 2nd and numerous top twelve finishes at Youth American Grand Prix in Atlanta, Winston-Salem and YAGP Finals in NYC. She is currently the Artistic Director of the Roswell Dance 

Theatre Modern Company and teaches at the Anthony Burrell Center for Dance Education in Atlanta. 


Brandon Whitmore

Ballet 5

Brandon Whitmore, originally from Orangeburg, SC, received his early training from Ann Brodie's Carolina Ballet of Columbia, SC, and danced competitively throughout the Southeast. He went on to attend the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts and Humanities, where he studied under the tutelage of Stanislav Issaev and expanded his repertoire to encompass diverse roles, including Gopak, Raymonda Pas de Dix, George Balanchine's Serenade, and original works by Lloyd Whitmore and Sandra Neels. 

Brandon is a graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he received his B.F.A in Dance under the mentorship of Donna Faye Burchfield and worked with choreographers such as Ronen Koresh, Sidra Bell, Tommie Waheed Evans, Gary Jeter, Matthew Neenan, and Douglas Becker, among others. While a student, he was chosen to study abroad at the Centre National de la danse (CND) in Paris, France, and at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp in Antwerp, Belgium. He has trained at the summer sessions of the Alvin Ailey School, The Dance Theater of Harlem, where he was awarded the DTH Image Award, and The Alonzo King LINES Ballet School, where he received a full scholarship. During the Fall of 2012, Brandon became an apprentice with Eleone Dance Theater in Philadelphia, PA, under the artistic supervision of Shawn Lamere Williams. 

His training also paved the way for a spot in the top 60 most talented dancers on season 11 of the hit TV show So You Think You Can Dance. Brandon has had the opportunity to perform with numerous national theaters including: Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, Fireside Dinner Theater, Maltz Jupiter Theatre, North Carolina Theatre, The MUNY in St. Louis, and was most recently seen in the First National tour of Hello, Dolly starring Betty Buckley and Carolee Carmello.


Kristin Chester

Adult Ballet, Upper & Lower Virtual Ballet

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. 


Email: info@internationalballetsc.org
Tel: 864-879-9404


Original Studio Location &

Mailing Address

1018 S. Batesville Rd.

Suite 1 CD

Greer, SC 29650

The NEW Somerville Center


2172 River Road

Greer, SC 29650

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