International Ballet


Internationally recognized instructors guiding ballet students to develop to their fullest potential through the Vaganova method of ballet and supplemental dance techniques.

Vlada Kysselova

Ballet Mistress

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

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

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, Variations

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 2A, Ballet 2B, Ballet 3A, Ballet 3B,

Adult Ballet, Studio Performance Group

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.

Lena Forster

Ballet 3A, Ballet 3B

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). 

Megan Hannon

Pre Ballet, Ballet 1, Ballet 2B, Contemporary

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.

Lydia Sanders

Pre Ballet, Ballet 1, Ballet 2A, Ballet 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.


Davina Schnaars

Pre Ballet, Ballet 1

Davina is a certified instructor with the organization “Cecchetti USA” (CUSA) and has been teaching ballet since 2005. She holds a TC-2 and Grade 9 with CUSA and is studying for her Associate. She received her classical ballet training in Indiana before moving to South Carolina with her husband.

As a dancer, she performed soloist roles in The Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, Tarantella, Graduation Ball, The Nutcracker and Cinderella. She is a dance scholarship recipient and holds a Bachelors of Arts in Writing from Indiana Wesleyan University. Her writings have been published in magazines and literary journals. She is the mother of two young children and an avid baker.

Sarah Shoemaker

Ballet 2A, Adult Ballet

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.

Josha Williams

Pre Ballet, Ballet 1

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.

Ashley Martin

Pre Ballet, Ballet 1

Ashley Martin received her training at the Fine Arts Center and the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. She attended Clemson University as an Education major where she was a member of the Central Dance and Concert Committee and vice president of the Clemson Dancers. She studied in New York at Broadway Dance Center and was a featured performer with David Dorfman Dance. She has performed with International Ballet in La Sylphide, Lady and the Hooligan, Walpurgis Night, Don Quixote, A Soldier’s Tale, Paquita y Mas, Coppelia, and Nutcracker, and has taught in the Academy for many years.

Gabriel Paluszak

Ballet 1, Ballet 2A, Boys Class

Gabriel received his training at International Ballet and has performed with the company for five seasons, the most recent 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 & II and Boys’ Class at IBA. He is a full-time student at Spartanburg Community College pursuing a degree in Physical Education with K-12 certification and is International Ballet’s Professional Artist- in- Residence, as well as Rehearsal Assistant, for the 2019-2020 season.

Sarah Lane

Beginning Jazz

Sara Lane graduated cum laude from Oklahoma City University with a Bachelors of Science in Dance Management.  She has been teaching dance – including ballet, jazz, and tap – since 2007 and has been awarded for pedagogy accomplishments at OCU.  Sara has also worked as an assistant dance and cheer coach at Neosho County Community College and as the head dance and cheer coach at Newman University in Wichita, Kansas.  She worked as the Program Director for dance, cheer, and gymnastics for the Greater Wichita YMCA in El Dorado, KS where she taught dance, cheer, and gymnastics to all ages.