Our Academic Vision

We at the International Ballet Academy strive to keep the classical traditions of dance and theater alive in a world that is more connected then it has ever been. We do this so that these traditions will never be forgotten and that in their wake we may grow and prosper not only as a people, but as artists as well. Each student receives individualized tutelage from our incredible faculty that come from all over the world. It is our belief that each dancer is a unique creature and needs unique instruction so that they may blossom and evolve. Yet we strive beyond that, offering not only a way for parents to connect to their children through dance, but to also have a way to find themselves in its beauty. This academy was built on family and we have worked hard to maintain that unity for all these years, weaving this philosophy into our dance education. At the core of our philosophy, we are a place of learning. A place to learn the beauty and art that has been developed over a thousand years. We nurture this education with family and maintain a curriculum that supports this, making sure that every student is treated with the love and care that they deserve.


“ Once upon a time people dreamed of the future. Of flying cars, space, and easy living. Yet as they dreamt, the future came and went. We are witnessing the future that was talked about evolve and flourish right in front of our eyes. But there are also those that look at the future, or the present, and dare to dream of the past. We are an academy that dreams of the latter. The caretakers of traditions and teachings built long ago, perfected over hundreds of years.”

       — Vera Altunina, Artistic Director


Vera Altunina -

Founder and Artistic Director

A renowned and respected choreographer and ballet master from St. Petersburg, Russia, Vera Altunina brought her talent and love of dance to the United States in the early '90s. Her extraordinary talent, consummate professionalism, and passionate commitment to dance speak for themselves. 

Born in 1965, Ms. Altunina began her ballet career when she was five years old. In 1973, she was accepted by the world-famous Vaganova Ballet School and graduated in 1981 as a professional ballet dancer. She went on to The Leningrad College of Cultural Education and graduated with distinction in 1985 with two bachelor degrees as Director of Performing Arts and Pedagogue Specializing in Performing Arts. She continued to further her education while dancing professionally by attending the N.A. Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory, earning her Master's Degrees in Choreography and as a Ballet Master, specializing in Ballet Direction.

Mrs. Altunina's extensive credentials include classical and character dance, choreographing and staging of new and classical productions such as Giselle, Paquita, Chopiniana, The Nutcracker, and Raymonda both in Russia and the United States; and teaching students in both countries the expressiveness, grace and beauty of dance, its techniques, and history.

Vera came to the United States in 1993 and continued to distinguish herself as an exemplary artist of great talent. As the lead ballet instructor and choreographer for the Washington Academy of Performing Arts, she continued inspiring students, produced many original full-length productions and has shared her talents throughout the Puget Sound as guest instructor for Cornish College of the Arts, Ewajo Dance Workshop, Whidbey Island Dance School, Olympic Ballet School, Ballet Bellevue School, Everett Chorale, Issaquah Chorale, and as guest artist for Whidbey Island Dance Theater. She has also assisted in the staging of Paquitafor the Fort Worth/Dallas Ballet Company.

Mrs. Altunina teaches Ballet, Pointe, Variations and Character Dance.

With the founding of the International Ballet Academy and International Ballet Theatre in 2001, Mrs. Altunina committed herself to the preservation of classical ballet and its education. 


Her mission is to enrich the lives of children and adults in her community, as well as abroad, by providing an education that inspires imagination and an appreciation of the performing arts through the creativity and beauty of dance. With her philosophy of cultural enrichment, professional dance development, and preservation of traditional arts, Mrs. Altunina strives to help her students achieve their dreams of becoming professional dancers. 


Stephanie Saland

Stephanie Saland was born in Brooklyn and entered The School of American Ballet just before her 15th birthday. Three years later, she was invited by George Balanchine to join the New York City Ballet for the remarkable Stravinsky Festival. In a 21 year career with City Ballet, Ms. Saland was showcased in leading roles under Balanchine’s direction, as well as principal roles and working closely with Jerome Robbins’ repertoire for the Company. Guest performances included Nureyev and Friends, Giselle with Alexander Gudonov, and numerous Live From Lincoln Center and Dance in America films. Before moving to Seattle in the fall of 1993, she taught movement for student actors at Playwrights’ Horizons and helped develop a body-awareness class for actors with theater teacher Caymichael Patten. 

Since finishing her performance career, Ms. Saland has been an instructor, as well as a mentor and coach for dancers and students in a wide range of choreography and repertoire. Currently, Ms. Saland is faculty at The International Ballet Academy in Kirkland, WA. In her freelance work she has been invited to participate, create, and conduct workshops, and intensives. In the US, the venues have included NY, San Francisco, Los Angeles, North Carolina, Atlanta, Kansas City, San Diego, Salt Lake City, and Dallas as well as international venues in Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Madrid, Mallorca, Mexico, Canada, and Holland. In 2005 she was invited to join the internationally esteemed Youth America Grand Prix in both the regional and final Competitions and has been with the organization ever since. The burgeoning worldwide web of scholarship and professional associations with and for YAGP has generated a broad base of contacts.

“...As a dancer, Stephanie Saland inhabited each role, bringing to it a glowing life with every step, every gesture. To watch her was to understand what artistry is. As a teacher, she is as unparalleled as she was in her dancing. Dance becomes understandable when touched by Stephanie. It also becomes magic.”

                     Elizabeth Kaye Contributing Arts Editor, LA & NY Times

Francois Serre y Berga

Francois Serre y Berga is a French citizen born in Barcelona, Spain. He graduated with honors from the Opera de Paris and Conservatoire Superieur de Paris. In Europe, he danced as a soloist with several companies in France and Switzerland including the Ballet National du Rhin under Jean Sarelli, Basel Ballet under Heinz Spoerli, Ballet de Marseille under Roland Petit and the Zurich Opera House. He studied Jazz dance with Gus Giordano and Lea Darwin in Chicago at the Gus Giordano Dance Center. He was a dancer for movies, television and music videos in France, and danced with Tina Turner’s European Tour in 1990-91. Mr. Serre y Berga was Assistant Artistic Director at Spectrum Dance Theater, and taught at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. He was Chairman of the Ballet School at the Washington Academy of Performing Arts in Redmond, Washington. He has been invited as a guest teacher for prestigious companies and competitions around the world such as the Rock School of Dance and Prix de Lausanne. Consistently Mr. Serre y Berga's artistry is appreciated around the world with top honors in highly-esteemed competitions such as the Youth America Grand Prix and Tanzolymp.  His students and his original choreography have been seen on the stage at the State Hermitage Museum Theatre at the International Dance Open Festival, and in Switzerland at the prestigious Prix de Lausanne.  His world renown choreography is featured annually at local productions with the International Ballet Theatre.  


Mr. Serre y Berga is the Assistant Artistic Director, and he teaches Ballet, and Contemporary Dance.

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Katerina Kuhkar

An Honored Artist of Ukraine since 2004 and Prima Ballerina of the National Opera of Ukraine since 1999 and winner of the International Competition of Young Performers Prix de Lausanne in 1996, Katerina Kukhar graduated from the Kyiv State Ballet School in 1999, where she was awarded the Honorary Diploma of the Academy of Arts. A favorite guest of many international dance festivals and galas throughout Europe, North America and Asia, Ms. Kukhar is a dancer with international recognition and exceptional merit. She has toured all over Europe, North America, and Asia. She is married to Alexander Stoyanov and they have two beautiful children.

Mrs. Kukhar will teach Ballet, Variation, and Pointe.

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Alexander Stoyanov

Mr. Stoyanov is a principal dancer of the National Opera of Ukraine and an Honored Artist of Ukraine. In 2006, Alexander Stoyanov graduated from the Kyiv State Ballet School and was a multi-laureate of the Moscow International Ballet Competition and International Competition Vaganova Prix. Mr. Stoyanov is a performer of remarkable merit and experience. In 2016 he was awarded the title, Honored Artist of Ukraine. He has repeatedly participated in many International festivals and galas as well and has toured Europe, North America, and Asia.

Mr. Stoyanov will teach Ballet and Pas De Deux.

Le Yin

Le Yin was born in Nan Chang, China and began his training at the Beijing Dance Academy and continued his training with the Houston Ballet Academy. Mr. Yin is a former Principal dancer with the Houston Ballet and is now a former Principal dancer with Pacific Northwest Ballet. He performed the lead in International Ballet Theatre's 2010 Don Quixote and performed in IBT’s 2011 Giselle. 

Mr. Yin teaches Ballet.


Hiromi Rudd

Hiromi Rudd was born in Yokohama, Japan, and started dancing at the age of five under Kiwako Tsukamoto.  She continued her training with Yaoko Sato (Former principal dancer at Tani Ballet Company in Tokyo, Japan.) In 2004 Ms. Rudd came to the United States with over 20 years of teaching experience. Since 2005 she has taught at the International Ballet Academy, Evergreen City Ballet, Ballet Bellevue and others.   


Ms. Rudd teaches Ballet.

Alison Epsom

Alison trained in London at The Royal Ballet School before completing her training at The English National Ballet School and on scholarship at The London Studio Center, where she graduated with a BA(HONS) in Theatre Dance and was awarded First Class Honors. Theater credits include: 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 (The Rembrandt Ballerina); Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film); show dance 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, and The Wintergarden Ballroom, Blackpool; Follies in Concert at The London Palladium (The Young Bolero Dancer). Since moving to Seattle she has performed for International Ballet Theatre in Dracula (Mina), Giselle (Myrtha), Coppelia (Coppelia), Don Quixote (The Street Dancer, Mercedes) and The Nutcracker (Clara), and for City Opera Ballet in Romeo and Juliet (Juliet).


Ms. Alison teaches ballet.


Jerry Tassin

Jerry Tassin began his ballet training with Perry Brunson at the Seattle Dance Center where he also studied jazz, flamenco, and modern dance. He went on to apprentice with First Chamber Dance Company, and then as a soloist with Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Mr. Tassin met his wife Kimberly when they were both dancing at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. They toured North and South America as adagio dancers with several dance companies and returned to the northwest in 1984 when Jerry joined Actors Equity Union with a production of Guys and Dolls at the Seattle Repertory Theater. After performing locally in theater Mr. Tassin then moved to New York where he joined the American Dance Machine, a musical theatre dance company, where he performed in New York City and toured.

Jerry and Kimberly returned to Seattle. Jerry joined Spectrum Dance Company and went on to teach his varied style of jazz, tap, and theater dance in the Puget Sound area.

Mr. Tassin teaches Tap, Jazz, and Theater Dance.

Mark Haim

Born in New York City, Mark studied as a classical pianist at the Manhattan School of Music before beginning his formal dance studies with an honorary scholarship at The Juilliard School, where he received his BFA. He has created and restaged new works for many dance companies in the US, Europe and Asia, among them the Nederlands Dans Theater, Ballett Frankfurt, the Limon Dance Company, the Joffrey II Dancers, the Companhia de Dança de Lisboa, The Joffrey Ballet, the Bat-Dor Dance Company of Israel, Djazzex, the Juilliard Dance Ensemble and Yabin Wang. Since 2002, he has been guest choreographer at The Wooden Floor, an after-school organization that has promised hope and opportunity to nearly 400 low-income youth annually. He is a recipient of a 1987 NYFA Fellowship, 1988 and 1996 NEA Fellowships, and grants from the NPN Suitcase Fund, ArtsLink, Inc., the Harkness Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, and the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture. In 2000, he was awarded the Scripps/ ADF Humphrey-Weidman-Limon Fellowship for Choreography. His full-evening solo project, The Goldberg Variations, has been performed at the John F. Kennedy Center, the American Dance Festival, the Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church, On The Boards, and other venues in the U.S, Europe, and Asia. His This Land Is Your Land opened the 2013 ArtDanthe Festival in Paris, and has also been performed at the Joyce Theater, ADF, and by groups in San Diego and Beijing.


Mark has been teaching dance since 1985, and was part of the faculty at the American Dance Festival from 1993-2014. From 2002-2008, he was Senior Artist in Residence at the University of Washington and in 2009 was Visiting Associate Professor of Dance at Reed College. He is currently on the faculty of Velocity Dance Center and the International Ballet Academy in Kirkland. He holds an MFA in Dance from the ADF/Hollins University MFA program and is a Fulbright Senior Specialist.


Mr. Haim currently teaches Modern Dance and Choreography.

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Moises Himmelfarb

A Mexico City native, Moises Himmelfarb trained at the prestigious Escuela Profesional de Danza de Mazatlán with Delfos Contemporary Dance while simultaneously receiving classical training by the National Ballet School of Cuba with Zoila Fernandez. As a dancer, he has worked extensively in Israel, the United States, and Mexico. His oeuvre encompasses choreographic work, painting, installation art, poetry, novella, non-fiction, and other artistic disciplines, he has been shown/published consistently for over 15 years. Moises has produced several stage, gallery, and non-conventional artworks with, and for artists of many disciplines and nationalities. 

For students, after conquering the technical and form-based challenges that any class presents (and there are quite challenging), the main goal of this training is to achieve a state of totality and joy in dancing, the most beautiful thing a dancer can deliver. 


Mr. Himmelfarb teaches Modern Dance.


Jackie Villegas-MacLin

Jackie Villegas-MacLin has over 40 years of extensive training and performing in Flamenco and Spanish Classical dance. She is the director and founder of her performing flamenco troupe “Dances of Spain” and operates as an independent flamenco dance instructor in the Seattle metropolitan area. In addition to her experience in Spanish dance, Jackie has a background in Mexican Folk, Ballet and Jazz dance and has been a featured dancer and choreographer in Musical Theatre. Jackie also produces her own creative works and performs regularly with various flamenco groups in the Seattle area. In addition, she is the Executive Director of Espacio de Arte, a non -profit organization specializing in visiting flamenco artists from Spain and workshop production.


Ms. MacLin teaches Flamenco Dance. 


Anna-Marie Kool

Ms. Kool began her formal training at the Infinity Ballet Conservatory & Theatre in Apex, NC, with a strong focus on the Russian classical ballet technique.  In addition to her dance studies, Ms. Kool began an in-depth study of the pedagogy and syllabus of the Vaganova ballet technique.  Under the direction of Professor-Emeritus Peggy Willis-Aarnio, she participated in several international teachers' congresses, and was certified in the instruction of classical ballet for beginner and intermediate level dancers.


Ms. Kool joined the International Ballet Academy & Theatre in 2015,  where she graduated out of the Professional Division program.  Ms. Kool is a soloist with the International Ballet Theatre, having performed in many productions with the company, to include Giselle, Don Quixote, Dracula, The Nutcracker, The Jungle Book, and several Best of IBT Galas in which she performed lead variations in excerpts from Sleeping Beauty, Paquita, Raymonda and more.  Ms. Kool also participated in the 2017 Dance Open Festival held in Russia, performing with the International Ballet Theatre at The State Hermitage Museum Theatre.  In addition to her own performances, Ms. Kool has become a valued member of the IBA/IBT faculty.  She has served as co-choreographer for the IBT Wizard of Oz in 2019 & 2020.  She continues to  share her knowledge and passion for the precision and artistry of dance with her students at the International Ballet Academy as an instructor of students in the Children's, Primary, Preparatory & Open Class Programs.  


Ms. Kool teaches ballet, tap, jazz and modern dance.


Maria Volotovskaya

Originally from Russia, Mrs. Volotovskaya studied ballet in the famous Vaganova Ballet School in Saint Petersburg. She went on to travel the world while performing professionally with the Russian State Circus Company. After moving to the United States, Mrs. Volotovskaya discovered Pilates and fell in love with it. She studied with world renowned Dorothee VandeWalle and became a certified instructor at Metropolitan Pilates of Seattle in 2013. Maria's extensive background and experience in movement and dance, provide her a keen eye for detail that helps her clients get the most out of Pilates. With over 8 years of experience as a Pilates Instructor, Mrs. Volotovskaya recently opened her own Studio, MV Pilates, in Bothell.


Mrs. Volotovskaya teaches Pilates. 

Oleg Dusaev - Accompanist

Mr. Dusaev is a well-known pianist and chamber music player. He graduated from Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory in 2003 with a Masters in piano while studying with the world-famous professor Vera Gornostaeva. From 2003 to 2005, Oleg attended the same graduate school and was mentored by the same professor. While being at the graduate school, Oleg Dusaev was awarded the Mstislav Rostropovich grant. Oleg is also a prizewinner of numerous international competitions in Europe. He also attended international music festivals and participated in piano master classes and concerts as a valuable artist and a guest. 


In 2013, Oleg Dusaev moved to New York where he worked as an accompanist and a teacher. He was employed by several ballet schools in New York City, to include Manhattan Youth Ballet, Ellison ballet, Bolshoi Ballet Academy, Broadway Dance Center, Peridance ballet, Brooklyn ballet and others. He collaborated with artists from three leading music schools, such as the Juilliard School of Music, Manhattan School of Music and Mannes College. In 2016 Oleg Dusaev moved to Seattle where he works as an accompanist. He is employed by several ballet schools on the West Coast, including the International Ballet Academy, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Spectrum Dance, Evergreen City Ballet and others.  In 2021, he opened the Pacific Northwest Conservatory where he now shares his knowledge, experience and artistry with future generations of aspiring musicians.

Academic Faculty

Maria Razumova - Science and Math

Maria has received her PhD degree in Physics from Moscow State University in Moscow, Russia. For 20 years she has conducted research in the field of biophysics of muscle construction at WSU, University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Washington. Besides research, her focus had always been student education and mentoring. Seeing a critical need in helping school age students in STEM subjects, in 2014 Maria joined Archimedes School of Critical Thinking in Redmond as a math and science instructor and recently left her research position at the UW’s Department of Bioengineering to pursue teaching as her main occupation. 

Administrative Staff

Carlena Rasnake Kool, Office Manager

Consulting Staff

Bret Swigard, MPT, OCS, CMPT, c. MDT -

Physical Therapist

An American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists (APTA) certified physical therapist, Bret Swigard has been working with the IBA to help our students establish a strong understanding of their bodies and human limits so that they can take care to avoid injury during their rigorous training.