Award winning professional staff

Salwa_HeadshotArtistic Director, SALWA RIZKALLA has contributed to the Orange County community for more than 30 years by presenting excellence in dance performance through Festival Ballet Theatre and providing top-tier classical ballet training at Southland Ballet Academy.

During her professional dancing career, Ms. Rizkalla graced the stage in leading roles in well-known classical ballets as well as contemporary pieces. She had the privilege of working under the direction of world-renowned choreographers Leonid Lavrovsky and Serge Lifar. As a young dancer, Ms. Rizkalla trained in the Russian Vaganova method and studied with ballet masters of the Bolshoi and the Kirov. As the culmination of her training, Ms. Rizkalla completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Ballet Pedagogy. She established Southland Ballet Academy in 1983 and debuted Festival Ballet Theatre in 1988. In addition to teaching and directing, Ms. Rizkalla was a faculty member of several area institutions.

Many arts organizations have recognized her service. The Orange County Music and Arts Administrators and Orange County Performing Arts Center jointly named her the Orange County Arts Educator of the Year Award for Secondary Dance (2003); Youth America Grand Prix awarded Ms. Rizkalla Outstanding Teacher accolades since its inception; and Arts Orange County  recognized Ms. Rizkalla with the Helena Modjeska Cultural Legacy Award (2014). Ms. Rizkalla was named one of OC’s 100 Most Influential in 2017 by the OC Register.

Ms. Rizkalla has been honored to impact the lives of hundreds of students and their families through her teaching. She is proud to be a dedicated educator, an energetic promoter of the arts, and an active participant in the cultural life of her community.

galina-barinovaGalina Barinova was born in Moscow, Russia where she completed her ballet training at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy (class of 1990). She was a dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet / Gregorovich Company from August 1990-January 1995 and with the Bolshoi Ballet Main Company from January 1995 – October 1996. Her repertoire includes Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Don Quixote, La Sylphide, Giselle, La Bayadere, Sparticus, Romeo and Juliette, and she has toured extensively throughout USA, Europe and Asia. Mrs. Barinova teaches ballet at Southland Ballet Academy and has worked with figure skaters on/off the ice since 1999 at rinks throughout San Diego, Orange County, Riverside, and beyond. She is a member of PSA and USFSA and her current and former students include: Evan Lysacek, Mirai Nagasu, Timothy Goebel, Angela Nikodinov, Kimmie Meissner, Caroline Zhang, Richard Dornbush, Denis Ten (KAZ), Takahiko Kozuka (Japan), and Carolina Kostner (Italy). Mrs. Barinova excels in using methods of Russian classical ballet education to improve artistic presentation, musicality, posture, flexibility and strength for both dancers and skaters.

Tanya Durbin was chosen to dance with the New York City Ballet for the Opening of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, formerly Orange County’s Performing Arts Center.

Tanya has been awarded scholarships, been invited, and or studied at the School of American Ballet in NY, The Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, the Boston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet NY, Bolshoi Ballet, and the San Francisco Ballet. She has had the honor of working professionally with the late Ivan Nagy (ABT), Francia Russell (NYCB, PNB), the late Gerald Arpino ( Joffrey Ballet) Suki Shorer (NYCB) David Allen, Lorin Johnson (ABT),  Allegra Kent (NYCB) Valentina (Stuttgart Ballet Germany)

Her Guest Artist Principal and Soloist Repertoire credit’s include  but are not limited to: Long Beach Ballet’s Sugar Plum Fairy in the “Nutcracker”, Fabric Europa premiere Italy “Moto Bio” with Lorin Johnson (American Ballet Theatre) and “Melodia” by Goleizovsky. Ballet Theatre of Chicago’s “Giselle”, Inland Pacific Ballet Theatre’s Snow Queen in the “Nutcracker.”   Invitational Festival “Immortal Beloved” (Choreographer Marie de la Palme), American Choreography Awards “Le Couer Illumine”. Company credits include: Pacific Northwest Ballets’s “Star’s and Stripe’s” (George Balanchine’s),  “Serenade”  (George Balanchine’s),  (Kent Stowell’s) “Carmena Berana”,  and the “Nutcracker”.  New York City Ballet’s “Mozartiana”.  Joffrey Ballet’s “Nutracker” and “Petrouchka”.  Other repertoire includes: “Graduation Ball” and “La Sylphide”.

As a member of Screen Actors guild and represented by Clear Talent Group Agency L.A. she has had a  principal role dancing in the Movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”(Director David Fincher) starring Brad Pitt, appeared in “17” (Director Burr Steers) starring Zac Efron, “The Perfect Game” (Director William Dear), Bratz the Movie, and has booked lead dancing roles in national Television commercial’s for Boeing Airlines, Target, City of Los Angeles Stargate Films with Magic Johnson), Hagen Dazs ice cream (choreographer Brian Freidman), Merck (with Suki Shorer former Principal ballerina with the New York City Ballet,  and many others.

Tanya has had the honor of working with and employing elite dancers from around the world to create such choreography works for World Class Famed Productions as the “Glory of Christmas” and “Glory of Easter” Production’s produced by the Crystal Cathedral.  She has also been personally commissioned by Carl St. Clair  (Music Director of Orange County’s Pacific Symphony Orchestra) to create a special work for George Crumb “Lux Aterna” engaged at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and numerous works for Orange County’s Pacific Symphony Orchestra.  Tanya has also been the Director for the Classical Ballet division for Defore Foundation for the Arts, and a judge for On Cue LA.

In International Pro-am Latin Dancing Tanya has a Champion “World Title” with Partner Marcus Johnson.  With Partner Roman Kutskyy,  she has received  a  U.S. “National Title”  and been awarded the highest honor as Champion at the Blackpool Dance Festival in England.

Currently,  she is very honored to share the floor and dance with ABC’s Dancing with the Stars Pro Dancer Gleb Savchenko for a special work debuted at the Elite “Gaynor Fairweather Cup”  in Rome Italy.

Some of Tanya’s students have been awarded scholarships and accepted to such schools as  ABT, SAB NY, Pacific Northwest Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Alvin Ailey, and Miami City Ballet.  They also hold medals and honor’s at the prestigious Ballet competition’s and others have gone on to dance professionally in Major Ballet and Dance Companies around the world.

elizabeth-farmenElizabeth Farmen attended the University of California, Irvine, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics in 2007. Ms. Farmen received the Disney Creative Arts Scholarship and the Amanda Borad Dance Scholarship in 2001, as well as a full dance scholarship funded by Mr. William Gillespie. She has danced at the Irvine Barclay Theatre for the National Choreographic Initiative and was semi-finalist for the Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Awards in 2000 and 2001. Ms. Farmen began her dance training in 1989 with Salwa Rizkalla at Southland Ballet Academy and was a member of Festival Ballet Theatre for eight years.

marci-goedlMarci Goedl received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance from the University of California, Irvine. Representing UCI in the spring of 2006, she danced in Paris, France where she performed a piece choreographed by Douglas Becker. Ms. Goedl was a semi-finalist in the Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Awards in 2001 and 2002 and was also a recipient of both the Disney Creative Arts Scholarship and the Amanda Borad Dance Scholarship in 2002. She studied under Salwa Rizkalla for 18 years at Southland Ballet Academy and was a member of Festival Ballet Theatre for eight years.

tara-ghassemiehTara Ghassemieh has achieved many honors, titles and awards throughout her 10 years of training, which include: finalist at Youth Grand Prix Nationals, Teen Miss Dance of America 2004, Dance Masters of America; and National Training Scholar for ABT. At age 16, Tara was offered a full scholarship to ABT and an apprenticeship with Washington Ballet. She has performed as a lead ballet dancer in the popular film Step Up; and has danced in Le Corsaire with ABT and various other ballets. She has worked with Florence and the Machine and performed on the hit TV show, Dancing with the Stars, as part of an ensemble feature dance.

Nader Hamed was Russian-trained in St. Petersburg. He was a principal dancer with Berlin Opera, La Scala di Milan, and Colon Theatre in Buenos Aires. He was Artistic Manager and Ballet Master at Cairo Opera House. Nader worked with Rudolph Nuryev for four years in Europe.

Jade Payette Hendricks received her dance education and training from Ms. Salwa Rizkalla at Southland Ballet Academy from 1992-2004. As a student dancer, Jade performed in many of Festival Ballet Theatre’s productions including The Nutcracker, Coppelia, Don Quixote, Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake as well various neoclassical works during FBT’s Gala and October contemporary productions. She appeared in American Ballet Theater’s Le Corsaire filmed for PBS in 1999 and The Joffrey Ballet’s The Nutcracker in 1996 and 1998. In the years 2000-2004, she was recognized and awarded the National Training Scholarship with American Ballet Theater and spent her summers training under numerous ABT luminaries in New York City under the artistic directorship of Ms. Rebecca Wright. In 2003, Jade was awarded the title of Youth America Grand Prix in the southern California regional competition and the Senior Women’s Silver medal at the Youth America Grand Prix finals in New York City. In 2004, she again was awarded the Silver Medal at the YAGP finals in New York City and was granted a full scholarship to the Royal Ballet School year round program in London, England. There she trained under the directorship of Ms. Gailene Stock and was instructed by many world-renowned teachers such as Ms. Jacquelin Barrett and Mr. Gary Norman. She toured with the Royal Ballet School performing principal roles in the classical work La Fille Mal Gardee and a Paul Boyd contemporary work Uneven Ground in Europe, Asia and North America.

Upon completion of graduation with the Royal Ballet School in 2005, Jade accepted a contract as a Studio Company member with the Washington Ballet and rose swiftly through the company becoming an apprentice in 2006 and a full company member in 2007. From 2007-2011, she remained a soloist with the Washington Ballet and under the direction of Mr. Septime Webre  performed principal and featured roles in multiple classical productions such as Don Quixote, Cinderella, Romeo and Juliet, La Sylphide and The Nutcracker. She also performed leading roles in many contemporary and neoclassical works including, among others, those of George Balanchine, Edward Liang, Septime Webre, Christopher Wheeldon, Trey McIntyre, Twyla Tharp, Mark Morris and Paul Taylor. During her tenure with The Washington ballet, Jade was asked to dance as a guest artist with Arka Ballet, Baltimore ballet and most recently Festival Ballet Theatre where she originated the role of “The Firebird” in 2010.

Jade has had the honor of teaching many young students at the Washington School of Ballet summer program and has also had the opportunity to coach their Studio Company dancers. She has been a guest teacher with Southland Ballet Academy and has conducted master classes at Huntington Beach Academy of the Performing Arts as well as with the Youth America Grand Prix. Jade is excited to return “home” as an alumnus of FBT and SBA to work with the next generation of promising young dance students.

Kathy Kahn holds a degree in dance from United States International University. For many years as a soloist, ballet mistress, and resident choreographer for Ballet Pacifica, she received her early training from Ballet Pacifica founder Lila Zali, formerly of the Colonel de Basil Ballet Russe. Thousands of Orange County children are familiar with Kathy’s choreography through her many whimsical and humorous ballets such as Mixed Vegetables and Winnie-the-Pooh performed on Ballet Pacifica’s Ballet for Children series.

Other companies that have performed Kathy’s works include Dance Peninsula Ballet in Palos Verdes Estates and DanceCorps of Pasadena. Kathy has also choreographed Pinocchio and The Twelve Dancing Princesses for South Coast Repertory’s Young Conservatory Players, and The Music Man for Laguna Playhouse. In addition, her choreography has been seen three times at the Regional Dance America/Pacific Ballet Festival.

Kathy is the former director of Laguna Beach Ballet Studio and has taught all ages and levels for more than 40 years at numerous dance schools throughout Orange County. Besides Southland Ballet, she currently is on the dance faculty of Orange Coast College and has taught in the Coast District since 1981.


Hanna Przyludzka-Karacic was born in Poland where she studied at The Polish State Professional Ballet School in Bytom (Silesia) for nine years. After graduating Ballet School, she received a Polish scholarship to study in Russia at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, where she was taught by more prominent ballet dancers, ballet teachers and choreographers (i.e. P.Gusev, N. Boyartchikoff, N. Dolgushin, O.Berg). In 1991, she received her M.D. as a ballet master and returned to Poland where she started to work at the Ballet school in Bytom, and was later invited to work at the one of the biggest Opera-Ballet Theaters in Poland. At The Wroclaw Opera-Ballet Theater, she taught company classes (male and females), rehearsed corps de ballet, soloist and ballet sequences in operas, helped restage traditional classical choreography and choreographed her own works for the company. In addition to her work at The Wroclaw Opera-Ballet Theater, she choreographed for Polish Television and Theater and Bytom Ballet School. In 1999 she moved with her husband to U.S.A. (California) where she soon started to work at Southland Ballet Academy.


Natasha Miroshnyk, graduated in 1988 from the Kiev Academic Choreography School, where she was trained under the Honorable Ukrainian Actress A.G. Calchenko.  After graduation, she was invited to join the Odessa Academic State Opera and Ballet Theater.  She toured Japan, China, Taiwan, Germany, Spain, Finland, Lebanon, and other countries and performed there until 2000. From 2001 to 2003, she was a principal dancer with the First State Ballet Theater in Delaware.  In 2003, Natasha became a soloist for the Moscow Ballet where she remained until 2013.   She has performed in a number of performances including The NutcrackerGiselleSwan LakeFlames of ParisThe Sleeping Beauty,Walpurgis NightLa BayadèreThe Little Humpbacked HorseCarnival in Venice,ChopinianaCarmen SuitePas de QuatreDon Quixote and more.

Natasha began her teaching career in 2000 at Dance Elite ballet school in Doylestown, PA, where she taught pre-ballet, basic levels, advanced ballet classes and pointe. She prepared choreography for their annual performance of “The Nutcracker” and “The Wizard of Oz”.  She continued teaching and choreographing while working with students at MediaDance School in Media, PA and the Russian Ballet Center in Newport, DE before taking her role in 2003 as soloist with the Moscow Ballet.

christine-nunezA native of California, Christine Nunez-Hodge began her dance training in Northern California and, as a student, danced in Sacramento Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker for several years. She graduated with honors with an Associate’s degree in Dance from Orange Coast College, where she also studied modern, jazz and world dance. After graduation Christine began performing and teaching in Southern California. She has worked with several notable choreographers/companies in the Los Angeles area including, Motion Tribe (Marie de la Palme), C. Round Ballet Works (Catherine Round), LA Unbound and recently danced in the motion picture Breaking Through. In recent years she has danced in several local productions including The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. She has also directed several summer dance intensives and rehearsed students and choreographed for Swan Lake, Aladdin, The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Coppelia. Christine was thrilled to join Southland Ballet in 2014 as a full-time instructor, where she teaches multiple levels and coaches students for Youth America Grand Prix.

stella-vioricaStella Viorica, a former principal dancer with National Bucharest Opera of Romania, has been featured in a variety of roles from classical ballets including Don Quixote, Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, La Fille Mal Gardee, Giselle, Les Sylphide and Sleeping Beauty, as well as numerous contemporary works by Anna Sokolov, Alexa Mezincescu, Oleg Danovsky, Amato Checiulescu and Ion Tugearu.

Miss Viorica is a graduate of the State Academy of Ballet of Romania where she was trained in a comprehensive ballet program of nine years. Among other wonderful teachers she had the opportunity to study under Yury Umrihin of the Vaganova Institute.

After touring extensively throughout Europe, Ms. Viorica relocated to California where she began extending her career into choreography, staging, teaching and coaching. Miss Viorica strives to offer students the highest quality of ballet instruction. Under her guidance, her students have been awarded scholarships at world renowned training programs such as National Ballet School of Canada, Kirov Ballet School in Washington DC, American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet.

As Stella Dance Company’s residential choreographer since 1990, Ms. Viorica has created seven full-length productions including Alice and Wonderland, Mary Poppins, A Christmas Carol, Open Audition, as well as numerous other works, including Black and White in 1994 to celebrate the opening of Hoag Hospital’s Cancer Research Center. She received the special award of Outstanding Choreographer at the prestigious Grand Prix Ballet Competition in 2000 in Long Beach and at the Festival of Dance in Laguna Beach in 2003.

Her goal is to promote, preserve and de-mystify the art of dancing in the community, to provide a training ground for aspiring professional dancers, and to be a resource for education and entertainment in Orange County.