UPPER DIVISION - INSTRUCTOR BIOGRAPHIES
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 South Eastern 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 received her training at the Kiev State College of Choreography and holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Kiev State Linguistic University and a Master’s Degree with Honors as a choreographer, coach and ballet master from the Ukrainian Academy of Dance, International Slavic University. Vlada toured as a soloist with National Theater of Opera and Ballet, Kiev (Ukraine), and as a principal dancer with Kiev Theater of Classical Ballet and Ballet Classique de Paris (France). Since May 2004, she has performed and/or choreographed and staged International Ballet performances of Francesca da Rimini, Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Lady and the Hooligan, Giselle, La Sylphide, Coppelia, numerous chamber concerts, as well as collaborations with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra. Vlada is an esteemed coach for international ballet competitions, including Youth America Grand Prix and the Jackson International Ballet Competition.
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 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.
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 Adult classes.