International Ballet

About Us

A home to hundreds of dancers, parents, volunteers, and committed patrons – united in focus on community, respect, responsibility, and generosity – using dance as a means for teaching life lessons.

Our

Mission

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.

Our

History

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 and strives to replicate them and represent the original, bringing classical ballet to a modern world.

IB President and Founder 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 National Theatre of Opera and 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, bringing productions such as The Nutcracker, Giselle, Coppelia, and Don Quixote to the Greenville, South Carolina community as a Peace Center Resident Company. In 2018 the non-profit entity International Ballet acquired the affiliated school, International Ballet Academy, from Forster. International Ballet is a non-profit 501c3 organization.

 

Now led by Artistic Director Vlada Kysselova and Executive Director Sarah Shoemaker, International Ballet is active in the community, performing annually at events like Artisphere, as a guest company with The Greenville Symphony Orchestra, and in local schools and communities.  International Ballet maintains several outreach programs including its Accessibility Class and Scholarship programs, and Storytime Ballet with the Greenville County Library.

In 2019 International Ballet opened the Somerville Center, a 10,000 square foot state of the art training and rehearsal space for the Upper Division of the Academy and Company. The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony was held on October 25, 2019. 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.

 

President | Founder

Lena Forster

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). 

IB Artistic Director | Ballet Mistress

Vlada Kysselova

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.

Executive Director

Sarah Shoemaker

Sarah Shoemaker brings 25 year of experience in dance, education, business, and film acting and production to her role at International Ballet. In 2015 Ms. Shoemaker began production on a film about the special needs dance class at International Ballet. Titled Invitation to the Dance, the film is set for completion in 2018. As a dancer, teacher and choreographer Ms. Shoemaker has worked in numerous professional companies, private studios and private schools in South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee. Since arriving in the upstate in 2014, she has been the choreographer for TD Bank’s Annual Wow! Awards tour.

She enjoys public speaking and acting, and has been seen in commercials, independent films, television, and web series’. She and her husband have two children, one of whom is a student at International Ballet Academy.  Ms. Shoemaker holds a B.S. in Business Administration from The College of Charleston.

Our

Board Of Directors

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.

Michael Dodd, Chairman

Jim Kudless, Vice Chairman

Michael Hildebrand, Treasurer

Rory Whelehan, Past Chairman

Kerry Bannister

Ann Bible

Dr. David A. Church

Judy Rozelle

Susan Ruby

Rod Scherich

Charles Wofford

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