Principal Dancers


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.


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. 



Alison trained in London at the Royal Ballet School and English National Ballet School and attended The London Studio Centre on scholarship, graduating with honors. Theater Credits: On Eagle’s Wing, Odyssey Arena, Belfast and DVD; Michael Flatley’s Celtic Tiger World premier Birmingham, European premier Budapest, U.S. premier Madison Square Garden, NY, U.S. tour and DVD; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film); partner to Latin Ballroom legend Paul Killick for The Fire and Ice Dance Spectacular, Florida, Ballroom’s Best at the Vail International Festival of Dance, Colorado, Paul Killick’s ballroom exhibitions in London, Portugal and Hong Kong, the prestigious Wintergarden Ballroom; Follies in Concert at The London Palladium (The Young Bolero Dancer).  Since moving to Seattle she has enjoyed dancing for IBT in Dracula (Mina), Giselle (Myrtha) and Coppelia (Coppelia).


Born in Cary, North Carolina, Ms. Kool began her training at Infinity Ballet Conservatory with a strong focus on classical ballet. During this time, she performed leading roles in several productions, including 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. Furthermore, she studied extensively on how to educate young children and those with special needs and disabilities in a classroom setting. Ms. Kool also participated in two International Teachers’ Congresses where she studied the pedagogy and syllabus of the Vaganova Ballet Method under the direction of Professor-Emeritus Peggy Willis-Aarnio. Ms. Kool joined the International Ballet Academy in 2015, where she trained in the 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. During her training, she performed roles in Dracula, The Nutcracker, The Jungle Book, Giselle, The Best of IBT Gala, and as Raymonda in the Academy’s End of Year Concert. Ms. Kool also participated in the 2017 Dance Open Festival held in Russia and had the honor of performing with the International Ballet Theatre at The State Hermitage Museum Theatre. Ms. Kool now resides in Kirkland, WA, and dances as a soloist with the International Ballet Theatre. She performed the lead role of Mina in IBT's 2018 production of Dracula. She has also performed soloist roles in the International Ballet Theatre's productions of The Nutcracker, as well as lead variations in excerpts from Sleeping Beauty & Paquita. Ms. Kool made her choreographic debut in 2019 when she co-choreographed the International Ballet Theatre's production of the Wizard of Oz. 


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.”


Leo discovered performance during a high school acting class. After high school, he began his ballet training with a student-run after hours ballet class at the University of Washington, continuing onto American Dance Institute in North Seattle, before settling in and Spectrum Dance Theatre’s Academy program (SDTA). Over three years at spectrum he developed his body and artistry, receiving a bulk of his training contemporary and ballet. He has attended summer intensive programs at Seattle Theatre Groups Dance This!, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, and Bates Dance Festival in Maine. Leo has apprenticed with Kambhatta Dance Company, has been a guest artist with Spectrum Dance Theatre, and most recently has performed with International Ballet Theatre in Coppelia, Dracula, Nutcracker, Alice in Wonderland, and Don Quixote. This is his second performance of Dracula. He loves to embrace the evil within.


"Junior year of high school, I woke up to Michael Jackson’s

greatest hits. The album continued on my IPod as I caught the 

bus to school. I knew it would be a good day if by the time I 

walked through the double doors at the front of my school, track 15 was playing- “You Rock My World.” Inspired by Michael, I 

accidentally discovered my passion that year. I love to dance.  High school went by in a blur and before I knew it I was 18, 

taking beginning ballet at a small studio in North Seattle. That was almost 6 years ago. Why have I stuck with it when faced with a world that rewards early beginnings and open hips? Because I alchemize my reality through dance; because no other medium reminds me with such clarity that mind and body are one. It is my expression; it is my protest; it is my love."

Corps de Ballet


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, including The Nutcracker, Dracula, Jungle Book, Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Paquita, and most recently danced Little Red Riding Hood in Sleeping Beauty. 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. This previous summer, 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 second year as a company member with International Ballet Theatre.


Emma Mackie grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota. She started dancing when she was ten years old after watching Ballet Minnesota’s The Classic Nutcracker in 2013. After six years of training with the Classical Ballet Academy of Minnesota, Emma moved to Seattle, Washington where she was accepted into the Pre-Professional Division at International Ballet Academy. Emma has been in many original works by Ballet Minnesota’s artistic director Andrew Rist, as well as The Classic Nutcracker, where she has performed roles such as Waltz of the Snowflakes, Reed Flutes, and an Arabian demi-soloist. Emma has also been in International Ballet Theatre’s production of The Nutcracker as a waltz demi-soloist, and a corps member in Les Sylphides, Paquita, and Sleeping Beauty. In addition to ballet, Emma has had the opportunity to attend the Saint Paul Conservatory for the Performing Artists for her first semester in her freshman year and trained in hip-hop, ballet, modern, and dance improvisation. Emma is very passionate in the character and acting realm of dance and has a love for roles that require unique and challenging personalities. She also enjoys theater and acting, as well as singing. Emma wishes to land a career in dance located in Europe, hoping for wonderful opportunities not only to dance but to be immersed in other languages and cultures as well.


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 D&G Dance Company to indulge in her love of hip-hop. Elena attended various hip-hop conventions 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! Elena continued hip-hop and house at Northwest Tap Connection. 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 most recently the Colorado Ballet Summer Intensive. This year will be Elena’s second year as a company member with the International Ballet Theatre. 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.


Zonya Tanada was born in Portland, Oregon. She began her dance training at the age of 11 at Oregon International Ballet Academy under the direction of Xuan Cheng. She has since then studied at Oregon Ballet Theatre as a scholarship student and at Pacific Northwest Ballet, performing in The Nutcracker and student showcases. Zonya has trained at the American Ballet Theatre and previously at  Kirov Academy of Ballet where she was awarded a scholarship to attend their year-round and summer program. She has also studied under Huyan from Beijing Dance Academy and Julie Taboison while in Seattle. Zonya has performed the roles of Bunny in Fairy Doll, Aurora from Sleeping Beauty, Shade from La Bayadere, as well as a guest performing as Clara in The Nutcracker at Guangdong Dance School in Guangzhou China. This year will be Zonya’s second season as an International Ballet Theatre company member and dancer in the Professional Division at International Ballet Academy.


Payton Thompson was born in San Dimas, California.  She began dancing at the age of two and by age five was dancing competitively.  While she has trained in numerous styles of dance including lyrical, hip-hop, modern, musical theatre and jazz, her heart has always belonged to the ballet/contemporary ballet world. Payton has enjoyed performing the roles of Clara, Arabian, and Ballerina Doll in The Nutcracker, Queen of Darkness, Lilac Fairy, Sylphides, and Odalisque as well as various other roles with International Ballet Theatre.  

Payton has spent summers training with Pacific Northwest Ballet School on full scholarship, Evergreen City Ballet, and recently Ballet West and Joffrey Ballet, both on scholarship. In 2017, she was invited to attend renowned choreographer Francisco Gella’s Pre-professional Dancer Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on full scholarship.   She was among a select group of committed dancers who were specifically chosen based on their commitment and potential for a professional dance career.  In 2016, Payton was invited to represent contemporary ballet and compete in the Judge’s Round of So You Think You Can Dance, season 13. Through the years, Payton has been awarded numerous dance scholarships including a full scholarship to Complexions Contemporary Ballet summer intensive. She placed in the top 12 contemporary soloists at the Youth American Grand Prix in 2019. Payton is currently in her 4th year at IBA, and in her second year as a member of the Professional Division.

“When I dance, I can let go of all my worries, actively engaging in the moment while I perform this beautiful art. The detail and athleticism of classical ballet is both intriguing and motivating. Dance is an amazing divergence of science and art; where precise calculation meets the whirlwind of imaginative creativity. I believe that in today’s world people need a moment to be moved and inspired by ballet and the arts.”


Serene Wong was born in Southern California, where she began her ballet training at the age of five under the direction of Marnell Himes-Ushijima. She completed her examinations under the Cecchetti Council of America in Standard 1 through Grade 5, before joining International Ballet Academy in 2014. As an academy student, Serene had the opportunity to dance in IBT productions including Giselle, Don Quixote, and Coppelia, and most notably dancing the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. Since joining the company in 2017, she has performed featured roles in Dracula (Lucy), The Jungle Book (Akela), The Wizard of Oz (Wicked Witch of the West), The Nutcracker, and Les Sylphides. She has also enjoyed working with IBT choreographers in original contemporary works such as Somehow A Memory (2019, F.S. Berga) and The McCreary Suite (2018, J. Tassin). 


Serene has attended summer programs with American Ballet Theatre, where she performed excerpts from Harold Lander’s Etudes under the direction of Wes Chapman, and with the Houston Ballet, where she performed an excerpt from George Balanchine's Serenade, under the direction of Sally Rojas-Herrera. She also been offered many other opportunities at IBA: In 2019, she participated in the Dance Open Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia; in 2016, she competed regionally at the Youth American Grand Prix where she received top 24 recognition for her age division; and later that year, she performed in Seattle Theater Group's annual Dance THIS! at the Moore Theater. This season will be her third year in the professional division.



Katerina Zakonova began studying Russian folk dance at age seven in Arkhangelsk, Russia. She started her ballet education upon moving to the United States and first competed in YAGP in 2012. In 2016, she joined Indiana Ballet Conservatory’s intensive training program where she studied for three years before returning home to Washington. In the past, she has placed Top 12 Classical and Contemporary at YAGP, been awarded Top 25 Contemporary Women at ADCIBC, and received first place in contemporary at the WBAC Finals in Niagara Falls, Canada. She has performed several leading roles in showcases and Indiana Ballet Conservatory’s production of the Nutcracker. Additionally, she has been invited to multiple summer intensive programs, including Sarasota Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Company, and the Alberta Ballet School in Canada. This season will be her first with the International Ballet Theatre as a member of the Professional Division.


Sophia Pinkina began studying at Alisa's Dance Academy of Competitive Dance under the direction of Alisa Laraway located in Austin, TX at the age of 3. Alongside the company, Sophia traveled around the U.S. attending competitions as well as conventions. Though she had mainly focused on styles of dance such as lyrical, hip hop, jazz, and tap at the time she had yearned for a greater approach to express her passions. At the age of 9, Sophia began studying at Austin School of Classical Ballet under the direction of Jennifer Felkner.  Only then, was she introduced to classical ballet where she immediately developed an unexplainable longing to continue progressing her studies as well as improving in her technique. 


In 2014, Ms. Pinkina's family relocated to Seattle, WA, where she then enrolled in International Ballet Academy at the age of 10. Her first appearance in one of IBA's numerous productions was as little Clara in The Nutcracker. Sophia continued to perform within several productions of IBA such as Don Quixote, Sleeping Beauty, Dracula, and many more. In 2018, Sophia competed regionally in Youth American Grande Prix under the direction of Vera Altunina and Francois Serre y Berga, placing among the Top 24 for classical. In 2019, Sophia alongside another student, placed in top 12 within the duet category, for which they were both invited to New York City Finals. Additionally, Sophia has attended Bolshoi Ballet Academy's Summer Intensive, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, alongside two years of International Ballet Academy's summer program. Sophia is currently enrolled in her 5th year at IBA and 1st year as a member of the Professional Division.


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 One-Act 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. This is Brigitte’s first year in the Professional Division.

Company Members

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Photography by Rex Tranter