KATERYNA IGORIVNA KUKHAR
Mrs. Kateryna Kukhar was born in Ukraine and studied at the Kiev State Choreographic School, earning herself a highly distinguished diploma. Mrs. Kukhar then attended the Kyiv National I.K. Karpenko-Karyi University of Theatre, Cinema, and Television, acquiring a Master’s Degree in Theatrical Arts.
Mrs. Kukhar became a soloist of the National Opera of Ukraine and was promoted to Prima Ballerina of the company. She has represented the company in this position for nineteen years. During her incredible career, she has performed in over 1,700 productions and numerous international tours with the National Opera of Ukraine, as well as many other leading ballet companies throughout the world. Ms. Kukhar has nearly performed the entire company’s repertoire to include countless highly recognizable roles.
In addition to her fine education, many awards, and honors, as well as her regular company performances, Ms. Kukhar has participated in numerous International Festivals and Galas all around the world as a principal dancer and master instructor.
Ms. Kukhar has been an honorary member of many international competitions all over the world as a master instructor and as an adjudicator.
A crowning moment to her beautifully magnificent career came in 2004 when by the decree of the president of Ukraine, Ms. Kukhar was awarded the title “Honored Artist of Ukraine”. Another great honor came in 2017 when she was awarded the Princess Olga Prize Pride of Ukraine.
OLEKSANDR AFANASIEVICH STOIANOV
Mr. Oleksandr Stoianov was born in Ukraine and was invited into the Kiev State Choreographic School in 1998 where he studied for seven years, earning high honors at his graduation. Mr. Stoianov attended the Kyiv National I.K. Karpenko-Karyi University of Theatre, Cinema, and Television, acquiring a Master’s Degree in Theatrical Arts. In addition, he attended the Ukrainian State University of Finance and International Trade where he earned another Master’s degree in Financial and Economic Security Management.
In 2006, Oleksandr became a soloist of the National Opera of Ukraine. In that same year, he was invited to dance as a guest with the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. While he was there, he earned a diploma at the Vaganova Prix Ballet Competition in Russia. In 2007, Oleksandr placed 3rd at the Premio Roma competition in Italy. In 2010, in that same competition, he won 2nd place. In 2009, Oleksandr received a diploma from the Moscow International Ballet Competition in Russia. In 2011, he placed 2nd at the Serzha Lifarya Competition in Donetsk.
In addition to his fine education, many awards, and honors, as well as his regular company performances, Oleksandr has repeatedly participated in numerous International Festivals and Galas all around the world as a principal dancer and master instructor. He also served as an honorary member of the juries of numerous international competitions such as Tanzolymp, Seoul International Dance Competition, All-Ukrainian Dance Assembly.
Oleksandr has continued dancing with the National Opera of Ukraine, becoming a principal dancer with the company in 2013, and has performed the leading roles of almost the entire company repertoire.
A crowning moment to his beautifully magnificent career came in 2019 when, by the decree of the President of Ukraine, Oleksandr was awarded the title, Honored Artist of Ukraine. In June of the same year, a gala in his honor was held to celebrate 10 years of performing in which select acts were presented from the ballets, Carmen Suite and Scheherazade.
Ms. Kool began her training at the Infinity Ballet Conservatory in Apex, NC, with a strong focus on the Russian classical ballet technique. During the five years she was there, she performed leading roles and variations from several productions to include, Le Corsaire, Paquita, Don Quixote, Sleeping Beauty, and Harlequinade. In addition to her study of classical ballet, Ms. Kool trained for four years in the study of the Lester Horton modern technique. Ms. Kool participated in two International Teachers’ Congresses where she underwent an in-depth study of the pedagogy and syllabus of the Vaganova Ballet Method. Under the direction of Professor-Emeritus Peggy Willis-Aarnio, she was certified in the instruction of classical ballet to beginner and intermediate level dancers and was featured as one of the student subjects online, on video and in lesson booklets created for the purpose of instructing dance professionals in the teaching methodology of Agrippina Vaganova. As a result of this work, Ms. Kool was also invited as a guest soloist and featured performer to dance with the Willis Ballet Conservatory in Panama City, Florida.
Ms. Kool joined the International Ballet Academy in 2015, where she continued her training in the IBA Professional Division Program for three years. During that time, she performed with the International Ballet Theatre as a member of the Corps de Ballet. Her studies included classical ballet, tap, jazz, theater dance, character dance, flamenco, and modern. She performed roles in Dracula, The Nutcracker, The Jungle Book, Giselle, The Best of IBT Gala, and Raymonda. Ms. Kool also participated in the 2017 Dance Open Festival held in Russia, having the honor of performing with the International Ballet Theatre at The State Hermitage Museum Theatre.
Ms. Kool now resides in Kirkland, WA, and has established herself as a soloist with the International Ballet Theatre. She performed the lead role of Mina in the International Ballet Theatre’s 2018 production of Dracula. She has also performed soloist roles in the International Ballet Theatre's production of The Nutcracker, as well as lead variations in excerpts from Sleeping Beauty, Paquita and more. She made her choreographic debut in 2019 when she co-choreographed the International Ballet Theatre's children’s production, the Wizard of Oz. In addition to continuing her work on the stage, Ms. Kool shares her knowledge and passion for the precision and artistry of dance with her students at the International Ballet Academy, having become an important and valued member of the IBA faculty. She is the Director of the International Ballet Academy’s Children's Program and Primary Division, as well as an instructor of dancers of all ages in classical ballet, jazz, tap and modern dance at the International Ballet Academy.
Corps De Ballet
Libby Croker fell in love with dancing when she started at the age of 3. As her family travelled around the world, Libby attended several different schools but received majority of her training at the National Capital Ballet School in Canberra, Australia. In 2018, Libby was accepted into the Bolshoi Ballet Academy’s summer program, where she was invited and decided to stay in their year-round program from the Winter of 2018 to the Summer of 2019. Although invited to stay to finish her studies at the academy, she decided to defer, as her family had moved overseas to Seattle, WA and she wanted to be closer to home. She began her journey with IBA in 2020. This will be Libby’s second year in the company and a professional division student in the school.
Meghan Duke was born in Bellevue, Washington. After seeing The Nutcracker at the age of two, she decided she wanted to begin ballet in hopes of becoming a performer. She began dancing in 2006 and is now entering her 14th year training at IBA. She has been involved in many productions including Dracula, The Nutcracker, Alice in Wonderland, Jungle Book, Paquita, and Sleeping Beauty. She was given the opportunity to perform at the Dance Open Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2019 and placed in the top 12 classical division soloists at the Youth America Grand Prix. Meghan has spent summers training with Ballet West under the direction of Adam Sklute, San Francisco Ballet School under the direction of Patrick Armand, and was accepted into Dutch National Ballet for the summer of 2020 but was not able to attend due to Covid-19. This is Meghan’s second year as a company member with International Ballet Theater.
Manami Kawai was born in Kirkland, WA and was introduced to the performing arts at age 4. Since joining IBA in 2010, she has been involved in many productions and competitions, including The Nutcracker, Dracula, Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Paquita, and YAGP. Some of her favorite roles include Alice in Alice in Wonderland, Little Red Riding Hood in Sleeping Beauty, and Ballerina Doll in the Nutcracker. In 2018, she was given the opportunity to perform pieces choreographed by Jayne Persch, artistic director and choreographer of BRIAH dance in Boulder, Colorado. A few months prior, she participated in Colorado Ballet’s summer intensive under the direction of John Gardener and Amanda McKerrow. In April of 2019, she traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia to participate in the Dance Open Festival, where she performed at the Hermitage Theatre with IBT. In the summer of 2019, she attended Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School’s Summer Intensive on scholarship, where she was cast as a soloist in the Kingdom of Shades from the ballet La Bayadere. This is Manami’s third year as a company member with International Ballet Theatre, and she is excited to share the enthralling and fascinating magic of dance with the audience.
Born in Russia, Natan grew up in Seattle, where at age six, he decided to pursue the study of ballet after seeing IBT's production of The Nutcracker. He has trained with the International Ballet Theatre, Ballet Fantastique, Emerald Ballet Theatre of Bellevue, Spectrum Dance Theater of Seattle, Olympic Ballet, and as well as under the mentorship of Mr. Marco Carrabba.
Natan has attended Summer Intensive Programs at the Portland Festival Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Ballet Arizona, Eugene Ballet, OKC Ballet, and Spectrum Dance Theater, as well as at IBT. Most recently, he finished an apprenticeship with Ballet Fantastique's productions and collaborations in Eugene, Oregon. He is excited to perform with The International Ballet Theatre this season. He has performed with countless ballets with IBT, including Dracula, The Nutcracker, Don Quixote, The Jungle Book, and Giselle.
“I wish to tribute the late Mr. John Magnus, for refocusing my energy and for teaching me and many others the ideology and physical embodiment of ballet as an art.”
Elena Sussex was born in Guatemala and raised in West Seattle where she was introduced to ballet at the age of three. Elena has danced at Seattle Civic Dance Theatre and Momentum Dance Academy. She also danced at D&G Dance Company to indulge in her love of hip-hop and competed at the Monsters of Hip Hop Convention 2013. She also performed at a Seattle Storm game. Recently, she was part of Immigrants, choreographed by Shakiah Danielson, at the 2017 Dance This! While at Momentum, Elena performed roles in their annual Nutcracker from toy soldier to Arabian and Harlequin doll, as well as Sleeping Beauty, Paquita, and Alice in Wonderland. Elena has attended summer programs with Cornish Summer Dance Intensive, two seasons of Dance This! Intensives with Seattle Theatre Group, IBA 6 week Summer Intensive and Colorado Ballet Summer Intensive. She was also accepted into Alvin Aileys Summer Intensive but was unable to go due to Covid-19. This year will be Elena’s third year as a company member with the International Ballet Theatre where she most recently got the role of Rat Queen in IBT 2019 production of the Nutcracker. Elena is thrilled to share with IBT audiences the pure joy she feels while dancing and hopes she can touch everyone’s heart who watches the company perform.
Sona Wyse was born Los Angeles and grew up in Burbank, CA. She started dancing at age 4, and she trained at Burbank Dance Academy for 11 years. Under Burbank Dance Academy, Sona attended commercial and ballet competitions such as YAGP and California Dance Classics (CDC). She placed top 3 at CDC, and she also placed at YAGP. In summer of 2019, Sona moved to Kirkland, WA and began her journey with International Ballet Theater. She participated in IBT’s Nutcracker and attended YAGP Seattle before COVID-19 hit. Sona has attended the Ballet West Academy Summer Intensive in Utah, and the San Francisco Ballet School Summer Intensive. She was planning to attend the English National Ballet Summer Intensive this past summer. Sona has also attended Ballet West Academy on a short-term stay scholarship in their Professional Division. This is Sona’s second year in PD, and she can’t wait to see what this year will bring!
Brigitte Young was born in Seattle, WA. She first started dancing when she was four at Dance Fremont. After attending IBA’s summer intensive at age 13, she joined IBA’s full-year program, where she has since continued to develop her passion for dance. Since joining IBA, Brigitte has performed in shows such as Dracula, The Nutcracker, Stars of Tomorrow, and An Evening of OneAct Ballet. Brigitte has traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia to take part in the Dance Open Festivals along with others from IBA. In 2019, Brigitte attended Bolshoi Ballet Academy’s summer intensive in New York. In 2020 Brigitte also competed at YAGP. This is Brigitte’s second year in the Professional Division.
Grace was born in Brewster, Washington, and at age five she began dancing recreationally at a local studio (LFW Dance Studios). She has trained in ballet, jazz, tap, and modern. She has attended summer intensives at Whitman College (Summer Dance Lab), IBA’s six-week summer course, and she was invited to The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s summer intensive on scholarship. After the summer of 2019 Grace moved from Twisp, Washington, to Bellevue at age 14 to join the Pre-Professional Division. During the 2019/20 season she performed in The Nutcracker as a butterfly. This will be Grace’s first year with International Ballet Theatre, and she is excited to share her passion for the arts with the greater Seattle area.
Emma Neilson was born in Seattle, Washington. She first started dancing when she was 4, studying Scottish Highland Dance as a way to connect with her familial heritage. She continued to dance competitively throughout the greater Northwest until the age of 8, winning numerous medals and awards, along with passing several medal tests through the Scottish Dance Teachers’ Alliance (SDTA). At the age of 13, Emma took her very first ballet class. She continued to dance recreationally at both Ballet Academy of Performing Arts (BAPA) and Haven Dance Academy until her high school graduation. Her most notable performance was as Snow Queen in the Nutcracker. After graduating from both high school and Shoreline Community College with her Associate’s Degree in Psychology, Emma decided to defer enrollment in a four year institution to pursue dance instead. She returned to Haven Dance Academy for a year. At 19, she was accepted to and attended her first summer intensives with the Whitman Summer Dance Lab and Summer at Cornish at Cornish College for the Arts, as well as International Ballet Academy’s (IBA’s) Summer Program. After this, she was accepted into IBA’s Pre-Professional Program. This is Emma’s second year at IBA and her first year with the International Ballet Theatre as a member of the Professional Division.