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.
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.
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 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.
Tara Ghassemieh began her training in Huntington Beach, California at Orange County Dance Center. There she trained in ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, hip hop, and contemporary, but Tara’s main focus and love was for ballet. Through her 10 years of training at Orange County Dance Center she achieved many honors, titles and awards, including first all-around soloist at Showstoppers Nationals, Finalist at Youth American Grand Prix Nationals in New York City, Teen Miss Dance of America 2004 for Dance Masters of America, and National Training Scholar for American Ballet Theatre for 3 years. At age 16 Tara was offered a full scholarship to join the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre in New York City, as well as an apprenticeship with Washington Ballet. She chose to move to New York and start her career with the number one ballet company in the nation, American Ballet Theatre. Soon after moving to New York she was offered the part as a lead ballet dancer in the popular film “Step Up”. She performed Le’ Corsair, Swan Lake, and Sleeping Beauty with ABT at the Metropolitan Opera House along with many other various ballets. While in New York she worked on Broadway for the internationally renowned show ‘Movin Out’, and was a featured actress on Law and Order SVU, CSI, and Gossip Girl. Tara also started and ran her own dancewear line ‘Tata’s Dancewear’ from 2004-2012. Currently Tara is living in Southern California where she is a principle dancer with Festival ballet Theatre. In her 6 years with the company Tara has danced principle roles in many ballets. Recently performing “The Slave Pas De Duex” as Medora with partner Vitor Luiz, principle dancer with San Francisico Baller. Tara is a guest artist to ballet companies nationwide, contemporary choreographer to the students of Southland Ballet Academy, along with teaching and choreographing for numerous students in California and throughout the nation.
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.
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.
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.
Renee Kester started out break dancing and dancing with hip hop crews, such as Quest crew and Boogiezone’s Breed, excelling in modern and contemporary before getting interested in ballet much later on at age 14. She began her classical training at Southland Ballet Academy with Salwa Rizkalla and then continued year round at the Washington ballet after she was scouted at the World Ballet Competition in Florida and then went on to apprentice with the Houston Ballet. Renee has performed several ballets from Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes with The Washington Ballet, to Stanton Welch’s Swan Lake with Houston Ballet. In 2014, she toured with Houston Ballet performing David Bintley’s Aladdin in Chicago and Welch’s Marie in Montreal, Canada before joining BalletRED in Los Angeles. She has worked with and performed for choreographers such as Josie Walsh, Sonya Tayeh, Lillian Barbeito, Billy Bell, and Jessie Hartley. She has collaborated on projects as a choreographer with Chris Scott, Phillip Chbeeb, Quest Crew, and Rubberlegz. Renee has bridged the gap between the commercial and concert dance world where she has danced and choreographed in several commercial jobs from Dancing with the Stars, the VMA’s for Iggy Azalea, Award shows to choreographing multiple music videos, web series, and commercials. Renee has also been hailed for her youtube videos and nominated for several awards, particularly for her and Phillip Chbeeb’s viral sensation video, ‘Slip’, which they choreographed together and shot in a LA subway station.
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.
Haley Loeffler grew up in Anaheim Hills, California. She started training in ballet at the age of 4, and began pre-professional training at 7 years old at Ballet Pacifica. She continued her ballet training at the California Conservatory of Dance and Southland Ballet Academy, and soon after expanded her knowledge of different dance styles at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy. She was a Company Trainee with Festival Ballet Theatre and a member of DADA Ensemble, directed by Debbie Allen and Terry Beeman. Haley has trained with The Rock School, American Ballet Theatre, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. She is currently a member of Kairos Dance Company, a contemporary company creating work on bringing awareness to social issues. She earned her BA in Dance and a BS in Health & Human Sciences from Loyola Marymount University in May of 2018. Since graduating, she has worked on special projects for Paula Abdul, completed the Body Language Experience workshop under Liana Blackburn, started the work-study program for Millennium Dance Complex, and began teaching dance to all levels and ages.
Vitor Luiz was born in Juiz de Fora, Brazil, and received his training at the Royal Ballet School. He joined San Francisco Ballet as a principal dancer in 2009. Vitor Luiz has danced major roles in Tomasson’s Giselle (Albrecht); The Nutcracker (Nutcracker Prince and King of the Snow); Romeo & Juliet (Mercutio); and Swan Lake (Prince Siegfried); Tomasson/Possokhov’s Don Quixote (Basilio); Balanchine’s Coppélia (Franz); Cranko’s Onegin (Onegin); Makarova’s (after Petipa) “The Kingdom of the Shades” from La Bayadère, Act II (Solor); and Possokhov’s Swimmer (The Swimmer). He created roles in Tomasson’s Trio; Caniparoli’s Tears; Liang’s Symphonic Dances; Possokhov’s “Adagio” from Carmen; Swimmer (Nighthawks); and Talk to Her (hable con ella); Wheeldon’s Number Nine; and Zanella’s Underskin. His repertory includes principal roles in Ashton’s Symphonic Variations; Balanchine’s Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet,Divertimento No. 15, Serenade, Symphony in C, and Theme and Variations; Bubeníček’s Gentle Memories; Caniparoli’s A Cinderella Story (pas de deux), Ibsen’s House and No Other; Lifar’s Suite en Blanc; MacMillan’s Winter Dreams; Nureyev’s Raymonda—Act III; Possokhov’s Classical Symphony, RAkU, and The Rite of Spring; Ratmansky’s From Foreign Lands, Russian Seasons, Seven Sonatas and Shostakovich Trilogy; Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering; Scarlett’s Fearful Symmetries and Hummingbird; Tomasson’s 7 for Eight, Caprice, Concerto Grosso, Criss-Cross, The Fifth Season, Haffner Symphony, Prism and Pas de Deux from Tuning Game; and Wheeldon’s Ghosts and Within the Golden Hour. Vitor has danced Swan Lake, Coppélia and The Nutcracker with English National Ballet and has performed at galas in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic. He was nominated for an Isadora Duncan Dance Award for Best Ensemble Performance in Possokhov’s Classical Symphony during the 2010 repertory season.
Born in Kazakhstan, Toleu Mukanov received his early training at the Almaty Choreographic College and later on graduated from Kyrgyzstan Ballet School. In 2002 he was a gold medal recipient at the International Ballet Competition in Crimea, Ukraine, and in 2006 he received a silver medal at the Almaty Ballet Competition. Immediately upon graduation he joined Astana Ballet in Kazakhstan. Later on he danced with Kyrgyzstan’s Opera and Ballet Theatre, Moscow’s Russian Ballet Theatre and Russian National Ballet Company. His past roles include: Basilio in Don Quixote, Golden Idol in La Bayadere, Ali in Le Corsaire, James in La Sylphide, Franz in Coppelia, Joker in Swan Lake, Blue Bird in Sleeping Beauty, Peasant Pas de Deux in Giselle. Mr. Mukanov danced with Festival Ballet Providence from April 2012 through October 2014. Mr. Mukanov danced as a principal with the Twin Cities Ballet of Minnesota from 2016 through 2017. In 2017 Mr. Mukanov also danced with the American Repertory Ballet in Princeton, New Jersey.
Taylor Needham, at the age of 3 started training in all styles of dance, by the age of 7 she was competing on teams which included ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary, and hip-hop styles. She proceeded to compete at a high level until the age of 18. Taylor continued her dance training while attending Orange County High School of the Arts in the commercial dance department.
Immediately after graduating high school in 2008, Taylor was cast as a dancer in Disneyland’s Parade of Dreams, and continued to work at The Disneyland Resort for 10 years in various parades including A Christmas Fantasy, Celebrate! A Street Party, The Electrical Parade, and The Pixar Play Parade to name a few.
Taylor also spent 2 years traveling through Southeast Asia, South America, Alaska, Hawaii, and Antarctica as a dancer for
Stiletto Entertainment on Holland America Cruise lines. In between school, Disney, and dancing for Stiletto Entertainment, Taylor has enjoyed sharing her passion for dance through teaching.
A native of California, Christine Nunez 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.
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.
Sharon Savoy began studying dance at the North Carolina School of the Arts, received a scholarship from David Howard, Harkness Ballet School, and from the Cecchetti Council of America. She then moved to New York City to attend the George Balanchine School of American Ballet. Subsequently, she danced with the Eglevsky Ballet, NJ Ballet under the direction of Edward Villella, and with the New World Ballet, with principal dancers Anthony Dowell, Cynthia Gregory, and Fernando Bujones. Savoy’s love of partnering led her to a successful career as an adagio dancer where she became a 3 Time World Champion. She is a published author and the recipient of the 2013 Huading Award for “Best global female dancer” (other nominees included Darcy Bussel, Royal Ballet, and Elisabeth Platel, Paris Opera Ballet). Savoy teaches Gyrotonic and Pilates at her home studio. She was recently appointed Dance Director of Education and representative for the Heritage Dance Foundation for the National Dance Council of America.
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.