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© Jerry Finley Photography



Classical ballet’s roots are in 15th century Europe, when it was a popular art form for royalty. As the art spread throughout the world, it found a stronghold in Russia where strict discipline and dedicated training have produced many of the beloved classics such as The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. Since its founding in 2003, International Ballet has sought to preserve the beauty of these classics, bringing classical ballet to a modern world.

Lena Forster launched International Ballet in 2003 with her husband Jurgen Forster and Ukrainian dancers Vlada Kysselova and Hennadii Bespechnyi. Forster received her training at the prestigious School of American Ballet, official school of New York City Ballet under George Balanchine and was selected to join the inaugural class of dancers at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Bespechnyi studied under Juris Kapralis (an instructor of Mikhail Baryshnikov) at the Riga State College of Choreography, Latvia, and Kysselova received her training at the Kiev State College of Choreography, Ukraine – both having received Master’s degrees from the Ukrainian Academy of Dance, International Slavic University, as well as performing and touring extensively with companies such as the Kyiv Classical Ballet (Ukraine) and Ballet Classique de Paris (France).

With this introductory talent and continued adherence to traditional roots, International Ballet has grown in size, reputation, and scope of service. It is now known in the Upstate for performing many of the classics, such as The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Giselle, and Don Quixote to the Greenville, South Carolina community as a Peace Center Resident Company. International Ballet is a non-profit 501c3 organization.


Now led by Artistic Director Vlada Kysselova and President Sarah Shoemaker, International Ballet performs 3 mainstage productions per season, at least one of which is with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra. International Ballet is deeply committed to several outreach programs including its Accessibility Class for adults with intellectual disabilities, Project Pirouette which brings ballet training to underserved communities, and Storytime Ballet with the Greenville County Library. IB also offers need-based scholarships.

International Ballet's Somerville Center, located on River Road, is a 10,000 square foot state of the art rehearsal space for the Upper Division of the Academy and Company, and also houses a Black Box Theater.  The Somerville Center is named for two of IB’s most generous supporters, Graham and Greta Somerville. The 2,300 square foot rehearsal studio is named the Halsey Studio in thanks to a gift from Sandy and Jack Halsey. Our Lower Division of the Academy operates from our studios on S. Batesville Rd.

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