Artistic 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 Russian ballet masters. 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.
Arpine Azlvyan’s dance career began at the renowned Alexander Spendiaryan Opera and Ballet National Theater where she danced for 5 years before moving to America, continuing her career as a performer and teacher. Arpine studied and graduated from the prestigious School of Choreography in Armenia and has many years of experience as a ballet dancer, having performed in ballets such as Giselle, Don Quixote, Le Bayadere, Paquita, Gayane, Les Sylphydes, Le Corsaire, Nutcracker, and many others.
Since 1993, she has been a dance instructor and choreographer, teaching ballet to both children and adults in all levels of dance, dance preparation, and performance. She also possesses a comprehensive knowledge of all forms of dance and loves to teach young children.
As a dancer and dance teacher Arpine has knowledge of body mechanics. It helps develop turnouts, flexibility, overall body placement in a safe and healthy way through alternative movement systems. She is detail oriented and excellent in developing a good ballet foundation and correct body placement.
John Barclay began dancing at the age of 8, training in the styles of ballet, jazz, contemporary, lyrical, and hip hop. By his Sophomore year of high school, he joined the Rancho Cucamonga High School Varsity Dance Team where he choreographed multiple routines that were showcased at rallies, basketball, and football games. In the summer of 2013, John was featured as a dancer in Madison Beer’s music video “Melodies”. In 2014, John was offered a full scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet School Summer Intensive in Los Angeles, CA. During his last two years of high school, John furthered his training at Just Plain Dancin in Riverside, CA. John became a member of the all male dance company POV under the direction of Terry Tansey Schulke. POV has competed at The Capezio A.C.E. Awards in Long Beach, New York, and at the McCallum Theater in Palm Desert where they won first place and a grand prize of $3,000. He has performed abroad in Scotland, Italy, and China representing the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at the University of California, Irvine. He has performed works from modern dance legend, Donald McKayle as a member of the UCI’s Etude Ensemble. He also danced for Lar Lubovitch, restaging one of his greatest works, “Marimba.” In addition to dedicating his life to the competitive world of dance, he also furthered his dance education and graduated from the University of California, Irvine. John received his Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance Performance and Dance Choreography in June of 2019.
Galina 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.
Cassidy Doan and her passion for ballet began at the age of three when she took her first ballet class at Southland Ballet Academy, under the guidance of Salwa Rizkalla and Hanna Karacic. Since then, Cassidy has had the privilege to be mentored by many notable ballet professionals including Claudio Muñoz, Larissa Saveliev, Christopher Powney, Lauren Anderson, and others. Cassidy has been dancing for a total of 15 years thus far and started her professional dance career when she was only twelve. Her extensive background in dance also includes pointework, contemporary, modern, jazz, nutrition, Gyrotonic, and more. Over the years, Cassidy has had the opportunity to perform in a wide variety of productions with Festival Ballet Theatre and Houston Ballet. She has performed lead roles such as Clara in The Nutcracker, and other soloist roles in Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Coppélia, and more.
In 2018, Cassidy was awarded second place in the classical ballet division at Youth American Grand Prix in Los Angeles, the world’s largest global competition for dance. YAGP then invited Cassidy to participate in the New York Finals, where she received a full-merit scholarship to a year-round professional program at Houston Ballet Academy. She was one of only two dancers, out of 3000, to receive this scholarship. Cassidy moved away from home independently at the age of fifteen to pursue her dreams of becoming the first Vietnamese-American professional ballerina and train full-time in Houston, Texas. Her daily routine consisted of intense ballet classes and rehearsals six days a week, from 9 am to 4 pm, as well as maintaining her own apartment and academic work. Cassidy is now beyond excited to return home to Southland Ballet as one of its alumni, attend University of California, Irvine, and work with the next generation of promising dancers.
Elizabeth 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 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.
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.
Kathy Kahn holds a degree in dance from United States International University, School of Performing and Visual Arts. For many years she was a soloist, ballet mistress, and resident choreographer for Ballet Pacifica. Kathy received her early training from Ballet Pacifica founder Lila Zali, formerly of the Mordkin Ballet and Colonel de Basil Ballets Russes. Thousands of Orange County children experienced their first ballet through Kathy’s many whimsical and humorous works as performed on Ballet Pacifica’s “Ballet for Children” series, including such favorites as “Mixed Vegetables,” Winnie-the-Pooh,” and “Flitters and Creepers.”
Other companies that have performed Kathy’s ballets 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 was chosen three times to be performed at the Regional Dance America/Pacific Ballet Festival. Kathy has studied “Sutton Dance Writing” with founder Valerie Sutton and is a contributor to the dance notation publication “A Collection of Classical Ballet Variations.”
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 and programs throughout Orange County, including Laguna Beach High School. She was previously a long time faculty member at both Coastline College, and Orange Coast College. Kathy specializes in teaching adults in a patient and supportive environment.
Camilla Fishwick-Kellogg started her career as a graduate of the Kirkwood School of Performing Arts where she received her Advanced RAD Diploma as well as her RAD Teachers Diploma. She also holds an associate degree in fine arts. She performed with the Royal City Musical Theatre before moving to New England where she performed with the Connecticut Ballet Theatre and the Albany Berkshire Ballet Theatre. She has performed many lead roles on stage in such classics as Cinderella, Wizard of OZ, Oklahoma, Coppelia, The King and I, not to mention our very own Nutcracker.
Vladimir Kolesnikov was born in St. Petersburg, Russia and trained at the Vaganova Ballet Academy. After joining the Kirov ballet, Vladimir was promoted to Principal Dancer and toured with the company throughout the world. In 1986, Vladimir received a Master’s degree in ballet pedagogy from the Vaganova Academy and embarked on a teaching career while continuing to perform with the Kirov Ballet. In 1992, Vladimir was invited to join the faculty of the Universal Ballet Academy in Washington, DC and then to Boston Ballet, where he taught graduate level classical and character dance. Vladimir was on the faculty of Debbie Allen Dance Academy from 2001-2008, and is currently the Artistic Director of the Pacific Coast Academy of Dance in San Clemente. In addition to teaching, Vladimir was involved in staging many projects around the U.S., including working as an assistant choreographer to Kevin McKenzie at ABT.
Nilas Martins, born in Copenhagen, received his early dance training at the Royal Danish Ballet School. As a student he performed with the Royal Danish Ballet in such works as John Neumeier’s Romeo and Juliet, August Bournonville’s Konservatoriet, A Folk Tale, Napoli and Glen Tetleys’s Firebird. In 1984, he moved to New York and enrolled at the School of American Ballet. In September 1986 he became a member of New York City Ballet. In 1991, he was promoted to the rank of soloist and in 1993 to Principal dancer.
In New York City Ballet, Mr. Martins danced numerous featured roles and worked closely with choreographers: John Alleyne, Lynn Taylor Corbett, Boris Eifman, William Forsythe, Peter Martins, Trey McIntyre, Kevin O’Day, Jerome Robbins, Susan Stroman, Richard Tanner among others.
Mr. Martins film credits include: “Live from Lincoln Center” broadcast of Ray Charles in Concert, “The Nutcracker” released in 1993 by Warner Brothers, “Dance in America” telecast of “Dinner with Balanchine” where he danced the role of Apollo with Paris Opera Etoile Isabel Guerin. “Lincoln Center Celebrates Balanchine 100” where he danced ‘The Man I Love’ from Who Cares? featuring Wynton Marsalis.
Mr. Martins was one of ten fellows selected from both domestic and international applicants to study under Michael Kaiser as a Devos Institute for Arts Management fellow from 2010-2011.
Mr. Martins ‘ teaching resume’ include Armitage Gone Dance, BalletMet, Baltimore School for the Arts, Goucher College, Harvard University, Indiana University, Joffrey Ballet School, Miami City Ballet School, National Ballet of China, NBA Ballet (Japan), New York City Ballet, Novosibirsk Ballet (Russia), NYSSA Summer Intensive, Princeton University, Royal Danish Ballet, School of American Ballet and Washington Ballet.
Since 1996, Mr. Martins has been a Repetiteur for the George Balanchine Trust and stages ballets for companies and schools domestically as well as internationally.
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.
Rachel Scott received her initial dance training at Southland Ballet Academy where she studied the Vagonova method under the artistic direction of Salwa Rizkalla. During her adolescent years, she performed in full length ballets and later became a soloist with Festival Ballet Theater where she danced alongside renowned professionals such as ABT’s Julie Kent. Rachel continued her dance training on a full scholarship at DeFore Dance Center, and shortly after completing her scholarship, was asked to join their Faculty as a ballet instructor. Rachel accepted, and since then, has been teaching ballet, pointe, and jazz alike for over ten years. Rachel was also one of the original members of Mike Esperanza’s BARE Dance Company, and she has performed professionally in musical theatre for several years.
Zak Ryan Schlegel is an internationally recognized dance artist, teacher and choreographer. He creates original works independently, as artistic director of LA- based AXIOM Dance Theatre with partner Denna Thomsen and is company member and soloist of Shen Wei Dance Arts in New York City, touring the US and internationally, most recently premiering new anti-opera “Neither” to critical acclaim. Hailed “A star” by New York Times and “eye-catching & effortless” by Wall Street Journal, he holds a BFA in Dance Performance from Chapman University.
Zak currently creates an evening length, experiential sound bath “Liminal” with Jonsi and Alex Somers of Sigur Ros, collaborates with Floria Sigismondi for performing artist Lawrence Rothman and curates a bi-monthly dance salon “Congress” harmonizing cross-genred dance voices. Zak has performed the works of Jennifer Backhaus in Backhausdance, Yin Yue in YYDC, Ryan Heffington, WIFE, and Kitty McNamee. He received formative training from Rafael Bonachela at Sydney Dance Company, Danielle Agami, Helene Blackburn, Lucas Crandall and has recently participated in Gaga research with Ohad Naharin and Batsheva Dance Ensemble members in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Additionally, Zak can be seen in music videos, print and national commercials including Britney Spears, Sigur Ros, MIKA, Fitz and the Tantrums, Years & Years, Sam Sparro, The Pierces, Japanese Breakfast, Toyota Prius, Lexus, Sleep Number, FLAUNT and OUT Magazine.
Zak is very thrilled for the engagement of his performing, teaching and choreography and is, most recently, the proud recipient of the 2014, 2015 and 2017 YAGP Outstanding Choreographer award.
Stella 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.