International Ballet’s mission is to represent classical and contemporary ballet by offering world-class productions and training to the Greenville community. With a focus on professional quality performances and a commitment to fostering local talent and meaningful outreach programs, International Ballet continues to transcend boundaries and cultures to inspire audiences with a performing arts experience unlike any other.
Lena Forster trained at the prestigious School of American Ballet, the official school of New York City Ballet, under George Balanchine. She was one of a specially selected group to attend the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music in their first class of dance majors, also later performing with the Cincinnati Ballet. She taught in numerous schools in New York and has been executive director and ballet instructor with the Greenville Ballet and Ballet Spartanburg, acting as Host Coordinator with Greenville Ballet for the Southeastern Regional Ballet Association (SERBA), held in Greenville in 1990.
Lena and her husband, Jurgen, founded the International Ballet Academy and International Ballet in 2003. She has been awarded the Barbara Stone Foundation award for her work as director and instructor in the International Ballet Special Needs program, which provides a weekly adapted dance class for Special Needs adults in partnership with the Greenville County Disabilities and Special Needs Board (now Thrive Upstate).
Vlada Kysselova 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 Carolina Regional 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.
Sarah Shoemaker brings over 25 year of experience in dance, education, business, and film to her role at International Ballet. Her introduction to the organization in 2015 was as a film producer for Invitation to the Dance, a film about the special needs dance class at International Ballet. The film was awarded the top prize of "Best Overall Film" at the 2020 Tryon International Film Festival.
As a former professional dancer, teacher and choreographer, Mrs. Shoemaker has worked in professional ballet companies, private dance studios and independent schools in South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. Her resumé includes serving as Director of Dance at the Ensworth School and Brentwood Academy in Nashville, TN, Marketing Director at the Augusta Ballet, and dancer at Charleston Ballet Theatre. Since moving to Greenville in 2014, she served as the choreographer for TD Bank’s Annual Wow! Awards tour before joining the team at International Ballet. Ms. Shoemaker holds a B.S. in Business Administration from The College of Charleston and recently graduated from Leadership Greenville Class 46.
ADMINISTRATIVE & PRODUCTION TEAM
A dedicated, collaborative and generous team cultivating an environment aimed to preserve and promote classical ballet and the arts.
Assistant to the Executive Director
and Costume Coordinator
Adult Program Director & Rehearsal Assistant
Trainee Program Director
Production & Facilities Manager
Director of Career & College Guidance and Social Media Coordinator
Academy & Company Manager
Board of Directors
Michael Hildebrand, Chairman
Michael Dodd, Past Chairman
Kerry Bannister, Vice Chairman
Jim Kudless, Treasurer
Beth Lee, Secretary
© Jerry Finley Photography