Nataliya Bondar-Shelest's first love was dance: at the age of ten she was was enrolled into the prestigious Kiev State Ballet Academy. There Nataliya studied Classical Ballet under Prof. Varvara Mey, a student of Agrippina Vaganova and best-selling author on the subject of ballet training.
Upon graduation from the Academy in 1983, Bondar-Shelest was invited to join the Donetsk Theater of Opera and Ballet as a Soloist. In 1988, at the age of 24, Nataliya won Silver Medal at the International Ballet Competition in Ukraine and was promoted to the position of Principal Dancer. In 1990 she toured Europe with the Stars of Kirov Ballet (under the direction of Oleg Vinogradov, and with the United European Orchestra under Mstislav Rostropovich.)
Over the years Nataliya's repertoire included leading roles in Don Quixote, Swan Lake, Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Paquita, Raymonda, La Bayadere, Fountain of Bakhchisaray, Thousand and One Nights, Esmeralda, Nutcracker, Le Corsaire, and Harlequinade. She has toured France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Turkey, Japan, South America, Canada, the U.S. Later in her dancing career she worked as a Prima Ballerina with the Kharkiv Theater of Opera and Ballet in Ukraine and as a Principal Dancer with the International Ballet Theater (under the direction of Vladimir Shoumeikin.)
Training children of all ages and ability levels for the past thirteen years, Bondar-Shelest demonstrated an unparalleled dedication to her craft and students. Her teaching technique combines strict Vaganova Method education with her own experience as a professional dancer. Nataliya's main focus has always been the impeccable technique but her secondary goal is to instill a broader understanding of the Vaganova Method and the effects of dance training on the body. Throughout her 32 years in ballet Nataliya has learned many valuable lessons that she now has the pleasure of passing on to her students.
Irina is IBT Academy's Creative Movement teacher. A native of Russia and a graduate of Kazan State University of Culture and Arts' Ballet and Choreography Department, Irina is specialized in teaching children ages 3—5. She has been teaching Creative Movement classes in the US for the past 20 year.
Energetic, attentive, loving, and patient with her young pupils, Irina is a huge asset both to the IBT Academy, and to her little students. She is known for creating a welcoming, inspiring, and most of all non-intimidating atmosphere, paramount for instilling in children love of ballet they will likely retain for many years to come.
While focusing her studies on Classical Ballet and Choreography, Irina was equally passionate about linguistics and creative writing. During her college years she was a recepient of her University's Award of Exellence in Russian Languge and Literature. Here at IBT Academy Irina also teaches a Russian Language Class, which we offer because the importance of being able to communicate in Russian in the dance world is not to be underestimated.