Performance opportunities with a carefully designed curriculum and a nurturing faculty are vital to the students’ progression, and are what make Olympic Ballet School a professional-quality school.
Artistic Director – Oleg Gorboulev
Oleg Gorboulev received his ballet training from the National Ballet School of Uzbekistan (Class of K. Sagatov). Upon graduation, he was accepted into the ballet troupe of Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre in Tashkent, Uzbekistan... Read more
Oleg Gorboulev received his ballet training from the National Ballet School of Uzbekistan (Class of K. Sagatov). Upon graduation, he was accepted into the ballet troupe of Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. From 1990–1995, Oleg performed with Moscow Classical Ballet in Russia, where he had opportunities to develop roles such as Albrecht & Peasant Pas in Giselle, Rothburt & PD3 Act I in Swan Lake, La Esmeralda Pas De Deux and many others. He toured with the company throughout Europe— England, Holland, Spain, Italy, France— and Japan.
In 1995 he was offered a contract to dance in USA with Indianapolis Ballet Theatre later known as Ballet Internationale (BI) Indianapolis. Worked with Eldar Aliev, Dale Shields, and ballet legends Irina Kolpakova and Vladlen Semenov, Oleg added to his classical repertoire principal and soloist roles from The Nutcracker, Cavarly Halt, Carnival in Venice, Sleeping Beauty, and La Sylphide. Working at Ballet Internationale he had his first experience performing lead roles in contemporary ballets such as: Val Caniporali’s Lambarena, Paul Taylor’s Company B, Eldar Aliev’s Firebird, and Alberto Alonso’s Carmen.
After dancing with BI for 4 seasons, Oleg was invited to join Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) where he reached soloist rank. There was his first acquaintance with George Balanchine choreography. Under coaching of Francia Russell, PNB’s founding co-artistic director and Balanchine Trust repetiteur, Gorboulev danced Pas de trois from Agon, Ballet Imperial, and Chacconne; Demetrius in Midsummer Night’s Dream, Dark Angel in Serenade, and many others. In 2000 he participated in filming of the George Balanchine Foundation’s Interpreters Archive series. His classical repertoire includes Nutcracker Prince in Kent Stowell’s The Nutcracker, Gold & Silver in Ronald Nynd’s The Sleeping Beauty, Espada in Mikhael Baryshinkov Don Quixote, and Conrad in Petipa’s Pas de Trois from Le Corsiare Act II. Oleg had also performed in contemporary works by Kent Stowell, PNB’s founding co-artistic director, Nicole Fonte; Glen Tetley, Hans Van Manen, and Lynn Taylor-Corbett.
Before retiring from performing, Oleg was a founding member of Los Angeles Ballet (LAB) and Seattle Dance Project (SDP). Working under directorship of Colleen Neary & Thordal in Los Angeles, he expanded his classical and Balanchine repertoire with role of Apollo, Agon Pas de Deux, and Concerto Barocco 2nd movement. While dancing with SDP directed by former colleagues from PNB, Julie Tobiasson & Tim Lynch, Oleg worked directly with contemporary choreographers such as Edward Liang, Heidi Vierthaler , Molissa Fenley, Donald Byrd, Olivier Wevers, Pat Cat, and Betsy Cooper.
Oleg Gorboulev has been teaching over a decade, starting his teaching career with PNB, Spectrum Dance Theatre, and many schools in Greater Seattle area. In 2007, he was invited to teach at Midwest Regional Dance America festival in Indianapolis, IN. In 2011, he became co-artistic director of Olympic Ballet Theatre & School in Edmonds, WA. His students have been placed in the Top 3 and Top 12 at YAGP regional semifinals. Oleg’s choreography was presented at OBT productions, in collaborations with Seattle Symphony, Seattle Chamber Players, YAGP, and throughout the Seattle area.
Artistic Director – Mara Vinson
Mara Vinson is from Redondo Beach, California, and started her ballet training at Palos Verdes Ballet with Uta Graf-Apostol. She was later accepted, on full scholarship, into the Kirov Academy where she studied with legendary Kirov Ballet ballerina Alla Sizova... Read more
Mara Vinson is from Redondo Beach, California, and started her ballet training at Palos Verdes Ballet with Uta Graf-Apostol. She was later accepted, on full scholarship, into the Kirov Academy where she studied with legendary Kirov Ballet ballerina Alla Sizova. At age 15, Vinson moved to Seattle to continue her training at Pacific Northwest Ballet School on full scholarship before joining Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) as an apprentice in 1999. She was promoted to corps in 2000, soloist in 2004, and became a principal in 2007. Her classical repertoire includes Stowell productions The Nutcracker and Swan Lake as Clara and Odette/Odlie respectively, Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty as Princess Aurora and Princess Florine, and Balanchine’s Coppélia as Swanhilda. Under coaching of PNB’s founding director Francia Russell, Vinson also performed leading roles in Balanchine ballets such as Agon, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Four Temperaments, Serenade, Brahms, Divertimento #15, Symphony in C, Ballet Imperial, and Chaconne. She later added roles of Diamonds and Emeralds from Jewels, Symphony in Three Movements, and Square Dance while dancing under current PNB artistic director Peter Boal. As a principal dancer, Vinson appeared in numerous works by contemporary choreographers such as Nacho Duato’s Jardi Tancat & Ressemblement; Jerome Robbins’ Dances at Gathering, Nicole Fonte’s Within Without, Val Caniporali’s Torque, Twyla Tharp In The Upper Room & many others. During her time with PNB Vinson toured to England, Turkey, Hong Kong, and Vail, CO.
Other accomplishments include an opportunity to work with Frederick Franklin on variation from Balanchine’s Raymonda, and Vinson has also appeared in lecture series held by Dough Fullington in Guggenheim Museum in New York. In 2008, Vinson was name one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch.”
Vinson became co-artistic director of Olympic Ballet Theatre & School in 2011, after teaching ballet at various schools in Seattle area, Indiana, and California. Under Mara’s instructions and coaching, students of Olympic Ballet School have been accepted into summer programs of schools such as San Francisco Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Boston Ballet, Houston Ballet, and many others. Her students have been placed top 12 at and have taken 3rd places at YAGP Semi-Finals in Seattle as well were invited to participate in Finals in New York.
In 2017, Vinson was awarded Best Teacher at World Arts Ballet Competition Semi-Finals. For that same competition two of Vinson’s students, after receiving top places at Semi-finals, were invited to compete in Finals in Niagara Falls, Canada.
Christine Hamstra has been dancing for more than ten years and has studied ballet, modern, jazz, and...
contemporary dance. She joined Olympic Ballet Theatre as a company dancer in 2008 and has since danced many roles in company performances including Giselle, Coppelia, The Nutcracker, Nyman, Petrushka, According-ly, and others. Christine has been on the faculty of Olympic Ballet School since 2010.
Karen Herr enjoys a long history with Olympic Ballet: she received her training at Olympic Ballet...
School and was a charter Olympic Ballet Theatre company member. She went on to dance with David Taylor Dance Theatre in Denver and Nandanco in Norwich, England. Prior to her performing career she earned a BFA in English Literature from Pacific Lutheran University, followed by an MFA in Ballet Teaching/Choreography from the University of Utah. She has taught ballet and other dance forms for more than 15 years, working with dancers of all ages and abilities. Karen joined the OBS faculty in 2007.
Karina Melikyan is originally from Armenia. She has been trained in classical ballet...
(the Vaganova style) at the Ballet School of Yerevan. After her graduation in 2002, she joined the National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre of Armenia as a ballet artist. She has performed in “Swan Lake,” “Don Quixote,” “Giselle,” “Cinderella”, and “Nutcracker.” She taught classical ballet and character dance in Armenia and Syria and continued her career as a ballet teacher after moving to the US in 2010. Besides her ballet career, Mrs. Melikyan holds a B.S. and M.S. degree in Oriental Studies from Yerevan State University. Karina joined the faculty of Olympic Ballet School in 2011.
Melissa Staheli began her study of ballet at the Jacqueline Colledge School of Ballet in Utah...
She began her professional career dancing with the Sacramento Ballet in California, after which she returned to Utah to perform as a Solo Artist with the Utah Regional Ballet. Melissa continued dancing professionally while attending Utah Valley University on a full academic scholarship. During her career, Melissa performed around the United States as well as in the Austrian Alps Performing Arts Festival. Melissa has performed in various ballets including Balanchine’s Serenade, Legend of Timpanogos, Coppelia and Don Quixote and performed as Soloist in many productions including Nutcracker, Cinderella, Capriccio Espagnol and Alan Hineline’s Sans Souci, and D Major Concerto. Melissa has worked with master teachers including Darla Hoover, Deborah Dobson, David Howard, Alan Hineline, Armando Duarte, Violette Verde, Ron Cunningham, Carinne Binda and Galina Mezentseva.
Melissa received both the Monticello Scholarship for Talented Young Choreographer in the Regional Dance America/Pacific Region and the Regional Dance America/Pacific Region Outstanding Choreographer Award. Both awards included full scholarships to the National Performance/Choreography Conferences in Utah and Texas. Melissa was selected as one of four choreographers to participate in the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet’s Choreoplan 2000 to create a work for the prestigious company. This work was later premiered by the Utah Regional Ballet. As the Director of the Ballet Department at Center Stage Performing Arts Studio Melissa expanded her choreographic repertoire to include two full length ballets, Peter Pan and The Wizard of Oz. She has had the thrilling opportunity to attend many teacher seminars including training with Darla Hoover and Marcia Dale Weary at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and most recently with Ashley Wheater, Artistic Director of the Joffrey Ballet, Chicago. Melissa joined the faculty at Olympic Ballet School in 2014 and is enjoying sharing her passion for the art with students in the Pacific Northwest. She and her husband Joel, currently reside in Lynnwood, Washington with their four children.
Kylee Kitchens is from Laguna Hills, CA. She trained at Westside Ballet Academy...
under Rosemary Valaire and Yvonne Mounsey, and on scholarship at Pacific Northwest Ballet School. She joined PNB in 2000 as a corps de ballet member and was promoted to Soloist in 2012.
During her 16 year career with PNB, Ms. Kitchens danced leading roles in ballets choreographed by George Balanchine, Nacho Duato, Ulysses Dove, Juri Kylian, Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharp, Christopher Wheeldon, Kent Stowell and many others.
ZhenJun Zhang (ZJ)
ZhenJun Zhang (ZJ) is a professional teacher, dancer, and choreographer trained in classical ballet...
He has danced with both the Limon and Graham Companies, appeared in The King and I on Broadway in New York and London productions, and has been involved with many productions of The King and I as choreographer, dance captain, and performer. He also studied Chinese classical dance, folk dance, acrobatics, and choreography in China, where he won national awards for both choreography and performance. He received his BFA from the professional dancer’s program at Cornish College of the Arts in 2007. Currently, ZJ enjoys sharing his passion for the arts with students in the Pacific Northwest.
Victoria Pulkkinen began her serious study of ballet in Ottawa Ontario Canada from Nesta Toumine...
She received intensive training from David Moroni as a scholarship student at The Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, and studied with Vera Volkova at The Banff School of Fine Arts. After one year Victoria joined the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
Pulkkinen ‘s professional career has included dancing soloist and principal roles with The Royal Winnipeg Ballet , Artistic Director Arnold Spohr; the Hamburg Ballet with Artistic Director John Neumeier, first Chamber Dance Company with Artistic Director Charles Bennett, and Pacific Northwest Ballet, Artistic Directors Kent Stowell and Francia Russell.
In January 1984 Pulkkinen was invited by Francia Russell to join the faculty of Pacific Northwest Ballet School. In 1988 the position of Curriculum Supervisor was created for her by Ms. Russell. She continued to teach all upper levels in the school, conducted syllabus meetings and taught company class on a regular basis until 2007. Pulkkinen also conducted the PNW Ballet School’s cross country prestigious Summer Intensive auditions for many years. In 2012 Pulkkinen was invited by Donald Byrd, Director of Spectrum Dance Theater, to join the school of SDT in the newly established position of Head of the Ballet Department and as a company teacher. She remained with SDT for the 2013–2017 seasons.
From 2016 to the present Pulkkinen has been invited to return eight times by Robert North, Director / Choreographer of Theater Mönchengladbach Germany, to teach all company classes during her regular three week stay. In 2018 Ms. Pulkkinen was asked by Artistic Directors Oleg Gorboulev and Mara Vinson Artistic Directors of Olympic Ballet School and Olympic Ballet Theatre, to join the faculty as a company teacher. Pulkkinen’s other guest teaching has included besides Theater Krefeld/ Mönchengladbach Germany, The Goteborg Ballet Sweden, and The San Francisco Ballet.
Victoria Pulkkinen’s impressive teaching career expands 35 years. The strongest influence on Victoria’s teaching career has been Francia Russell Founding Artistic Director with Kent Stowell of Pacific Northwest Ballet.
Karl Watson is from Cleveland, Ohio. He attended Butler University, graduating with a B.F.A. cum laude in dance...
performance and a history minor in 2012, as well as summer programs at Houston Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and Springboard Danse Montreal. In 2012, Karl began dancing with Luna Negra Dance Theater, then joined Visceral Dance Chicago as a founding member. He also danced in Pursuit Productions’ dance theater production of “Blood Wedding,” by Federico García Lorca.
Canada’s National Ballet School Faculty
Oregon Ballet Theatre Rehearsal Director
Dancer Theatre of Harlem Company Dancer
Olympic Ballet School Alumni, Latvian National Opera & Ballet Artist