Gelsey Kirkland received her early training at the School of American Ballet, gaining early stage experience dancing children’s roles in Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Harlequinade. She graduated to the New York City Ballet in 1968, was promoted to soloist in 1970 and principal dancer in 1972. While in the New York City Ballet she performed a variety of leading roles in their repertory, including Concerto Barocco, The Cage, Irish Fantasy, Symphony in C, La Source, Theme and Variations, Tarantella, Harlequinade, The Nutcracker and Dances at a Gathering.
Her desire to master roles in full-length works coincided with Baryshnikov’s defection and invitation to dance with him at American Ballet Theatre, which she joined in 1974 as principal dancer. Teachers most influential in her development as a classical artist include Stanley Williams, Maggie Black, David Howard, actress and mime Pilar Garcia and dramaturge Greg Lawrence.
Ms. Kirkland received worldwide acclaim for her performances in the classical repertory: the title role in Giselle, Kitri in Don Quixote, Clara in The Nutcracker, Swanhilda in Coppélia, Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, the sylph in La Sylphide, Lise in La Fille Mal Gardée, Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Nikiya in The Kingdom of the Shades, the Mazurka and pas de deux in Les Sylphides, and the sleepwalker in La Sonnambula.
Major choreographers have been inspired to create new works for her; namely, a production of Firebird by George Balanchine when she was seventeen, several ballets by Jerome Robbins, and Antony Tudor’s The Leaves are Fading and The Tiller in the Fields. Ms. Kirkland’s guest appearances with leading companies are notably the critically acclaimed performances of The Sleeping Beauty and MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet with The Royal Ballet at Covent Garden, and in Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet with The Stuttgart Ballet. On the occasion of Queen Elizabeth’s 60th Birthday Gala at Covent Garden she performed the balcony pas de deux with Anthony Dowell. Her appearances on American and British television include Live from Lincoln Center and the film version of Baryshnikov’s The Nutcracker. Retirement from the stage in 1986 marked Ms. Kirkland’s transition into teaching and coaching in institutions such as American Ballet Theatre, The Royal Ballet School, English National Ballet, and The Australian Ballet. In the 1990’s she was Professor of Dance at Adelphi University in New York. In 2002-2005 she taught at the Victorian College of the Arts and was director of the ballet program at Danceworld 301. Ms. Kirkland studied the Vaganova Method at the Victorian College of the Arts. She continued intensive teacher training under Nina Osipyan. In 2006-2008 she collaborated with Kevin McKenzie and Michael Chernov in the staging and additional choreography for The Sleeping Beauty for American Ballet Theatre, as well as appearing as the Fairy Carabosse in that production.
Gelsey Kirkland and Greg Lawrence are the authors of her first autobiography Dancing On My Grave published in 1986, her second autobiography titled The Shape Of Love published in 1990, and a children’s book called The Little Ballerina and Her Dancing Horse published in 1993.
Michael Chernov received his early ballet and theatre training at the National Ballet and Theatre School in Melbourne, Australia. He has worked with classical ballet companies nationally and internationally. From 1987 to 1994 Mr. Chernov worked as an actor performing Off–Broadway and in regional theatre with the Hartford Stage Company and the Alonso Theatre Company in plays by Sophocles, Shakespeare, Shaw and Coward, working under the direction of Tony Award winning directors Vivian Matalon and Brian Murray. In 1992 he studied theatre directing at T. Schreiber Studios in New York and has directed plays by Anton Chekov and Horton Foote, including directing the actor Leonid Satinovsky from Russia’s prestigious Moscow Arts Theatre in Chekov’s The Bear. In 2003 Mr. Chernov received his Graduate Ballet Teacher’s Diploma (Vaganova Method) at the Victorian College of the Arts, and in 2006 completed a Master of Arts Administration at the University RMIT, Melbourne Australia. He taught classical ballet at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2004 and 2005, and at Danceworld in Melbourne, Australia where he was co-director of the ballet program with his wife Gelsey Kirkland. He has taught at Steps on Broadway, Peridance Studios and Ballet Hispanico in New York and in summer programs throughout the U.S. From 2006-7 Mr. Chernov worked in collaboration with Gelsey Kirkland and Kevin McKenzie on the staging and choreography for The Sleeping Beauty at American Ballet Theatre.
Alexandra Lawler received her early training in Melbourne, Australia with Hilary Debden & Dance World Studios, where she received a Diploma of Art with honors, passed RAD Advanced II with Distinction & was a finalist in the McDonald’s Ballet Scholarships in which she performed at the Sydney Opera House. She went on to study at the New Zealand School of Dance (NZSD), during which time she was invited to compete in the 2003 New York International Ballet Competition & performed in the semi-finals. Following her formal training, she was coached by Gelsey Kirkland & was the recipient of the Kingston City Arts Grant that allowed her to further her training with Kirkland in New York. Nina Osipyan trained her as a teacher in the Vaganova method. She also studied the Bournonville Enchainments alongside Gelsey Kirkland, and assisted her and Michael Chernov in research for their production of The Sleeping Beauty for American Ballet Theatre. She has taught at numerous professional ballet schools in Melbourne, Australia.
Ms. Soloveyva has extensive experience as a former Principal Dancer for 18 years of the Leningrad State Ballet Company. A Graduate of the Vagonova Ballet Academy Teacher’s Course, in St. Petersburg Ms. Solovyeva also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Dance Education. Previously a Teacher and Repetiteur for Eifmen Ballet and for Leonid Jacobson’s State Ballet Theatre, she rehearsed and staged numerous ballet performances. Ms. Solovyeva later taught at the St. Petersburg Liberal University of Arts and following, became a Principal Teacher of Universal Ballet (Seoul, Korea), Colorado Ballet (Denver, CO), and Festival Ballet Theatre (Los Angeles, CA) staging performances such as Spartacus, Le Corsaire, Paquita, Don Quixote and La Bayadere. Her students successfully competed in the Prix de Lausanne, Varna International Ballet Competition, Moscow International Ballet Competition, Seoul International Dance Competition and the Youth American Grand Prix. Her dedication was rewarded with a Best Ballet Teacher of the Year Award in 2004 and 2005.
Mr. Levitsky received his dance training at the Kiev Ballet Academy in Ukraine. After graduating, he toured with The Opera and Ballet State Theatre of Ukraine as a Principal Dancer and later for 18 years with The Leningrad State Ballet Company of Russia. In St. Petersburg, Russia he held the position of Assistant Ballet Master and Repetiteur with Eifman Ballet and Ballet Master and Repetiteur with the Leonid Jacobson’s State Ballet Theatre. He also taught at the St. Petersburg Liberal University of Art. He obtained his vast teaching experience at companies including The Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg Liberal University of Arts, Universal Ballet Theatre (Seoul, Korea), The Universal Ballet Academy (Seoul, Korea), The Korean National University (Seoul, Korea), Colorado Ballet Company (Denver, CO), and Festival Ballet Theatre (Los Angeles, CA). In 2004 and 2005, he received the Best Ballet Teacher of the Year Award at the Youth America Grand Prix. Mr. Levitsky’s wide knowledge in the ballet classics and talent for teaching character dance makes him a well sought-after instructor.
Pilar Garcia’s acting credits include the Broadway cast of Mummenschanz and various productions with The CSC Repertory Company, The Richard Morse Mime Theatre, and The Paper Bag Players. As a mime and movement coach, Ms. Garcia has been privileged to work with dancers such as prima ballerina Gelsey Kirkland on numerous roles, as well as coaching actors such as Philip Anglim, Jack Weatherall, and David Bowie in Broadway’s The Elephant Man. She teaches movement for actors and mime at the Stella Adler Studios in New York.
Natalia Sheptalova trained at The Moscow State Academy of Choreography in Moscow, Russia. After she graduated she joined Russian National Ballet where she performed all over the world in corps and demi-soloist roles. During her time at RNB, she attended the Russian Academy of Theatre Arts where she earned a degree in ballet. In the same time period, Peter Korogodsky, a master teacher form Bolshoi, encouraged Natasha to teach. Natalia became an assistant teacher at Steps when she moved to NYC in 2010. Since then, Ms. Sheptalova has taught many places in the tri-state area including Brooklyn Jewish Dance Theatre and Princeton Dance and Theater Studios. Ms. Sheptalova is a member of the Gelsey Kirkland Ballet Studio Company, and has completed the GKA Teacher’s Training Course.
Mr Pickup received his early training from Leeanne Rutherford at Ballet Theatre Australia and later with Peter Shortland and Kathryn Hailey at The Studio. As a dancer he performed with The Wiggles, Lithuanian National Ballet, AURA Dance Company and Untitled Collective NYC. Mr Pickup began teaching at Essendon Academy of Ballet, Melbourne Australia before teaching at various schools throughout Sydney and Melbourne. During this time he studied the RAD syllabus under Kathryn Hailey.
After relocating to New York, he began training under Gelsey Kirkland and Michael Chernov as both a dancer and teacher. Mr. Pickup is currently a faculty member in the GKA Pre-Professional Division and Full Day Professional Training Program.