Nikoloz Makhateli
Artistic Director & Choreographer
Professor of Ballet

Mr. Makhateli received the highest qualification as a Ballet Master and Choreographer in 1987 from the Kirov Ballet in St. Petersburg. He obtained a Master’s Degree as Teacher/Repetiteur of Choreography. His areas of expertise include the full Vaganova syllabus, the entire Petipa repertory, and the eight-year syllabus of classical ballet (including character, pas de deux, music, history of theatre and art).

Mr. Makhateli was a principal dancer with the National Opera and Ballet Theater of Tbilisi, Georgia, where he danced leading roles in Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Les Sylphides, Swan Lake, La Bayadere, Don Quixote, Coppelia, Flames of Paris, and Raymonda among others. Mr. Makhateli also has extensive experience as teacher and choreographer. He was head of the dance department at the Institute of Fine Arts in Tbilisi, Georgia. For three years he was the Master Teacher and Choreographer of the National Ballet School, Madras Africa, in Senegal. He was also the Master Ballet Teacher of the National Ballet School in Nicaragua. He was the Artistic Director of “Makhateli Ballet” which received the “Most Outstanding Ballet School in Colorado for 2005” by Youth America Grand Prix. Mr. Makhateli was awarded “Outstanding Teacher” in Colorado for 2006 at the Youth America Grand Prix. He has taught at the Ascot Ballet Academy in Colorado where several of his students received first place in the semifinals of Youth America Grand Prix and went on to the final competition in New York City. Most recently, he taught at the Kirov Ballet Academy in Washington, DC. 

Ballet Mistress: Irina Vassileni 

is a well known instructor and re-stager of classical ballet. She is a graduate of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, a former Bolshoi Ballet dancer and holds BFA degree in Methodology of Classical Ballet and Choreography . She has also studied yoga, body conditioning and related holistic practices in depth, integrating her knowledge of dance with the ideas of both ancient and modern disciplines.   
Irina began her training by entering the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow at the age 10. After graduating with honors in 1979, she was invited to join the Bolshoi Ballet, touring worldwide and performing with the company in ballets such as SWAN LAKE, GISELLE, SLEEPING BEAUTY, THE NUTCRACKER, SPARTACUS, PAQUITA , RAYMONDA, THE GOLDEN AGE and the entire classical and contemporary repertoire.  

Simultaneously to performing with the company, Irina chose to pursue a higher education by attending the National Institute of Theatrical Arts studying instruction and restage of classical ballet as well as other disciplines, later on advancing her studies to receive a BFA in Methodology of Classical Ballet and Choreography. 

In 1990, Irina moved to the United States and was invited to become Ballet Mistress and Director of Education for Ballet Iowa in Des Moines Iowa. She held the position from 1991 to 1997 and in 1998 moved to Long Island, New York where she opened her own school, Russian Ballet School. Throughout her career as an instructor she has taught master classes, teaching seminars and participated in lectures and workshops with professional schools , universities and companies nationwide.    

Prior the coming to MBA, Irina most recently was a faculty member of Classical Ballet of Colorado. 


Master Teacher: Joanne Jaglowski

A Grand Rapids native, Joanne Jaglowski began her ballet education with the Grand Rapids Ballet, studying with former Joffrey Ballet artists Charthel Arthur, and Robert Estner. Numerous guest teachers and artists brought in inspired her to attend summer scholarship opportunities including San Francisco Ballet School where she returned for a more intensive year-round program. Ms. Jaglowski began ballet under the direction of Sally Seven (former dancer of Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo). Her professional career began with Cleveland San Jose Ballet during which time she performed with Chautaucqua and  the Drew Carey Show before landing in San Jose with the evolution of Ballet San Jose. Among numerous principal roles she enjoyed, Ms. Jaglowski originated such roles as The Dying Swan and Marilyn (Nahat). She had the opportunity to work with ballet greats such as John Clifford, Donald MacKayle, Fleming Flindt, and Rudy VanDanzig. She performed with artists such as Johann Renvall, Cheryl Yeager, Marianna Tcherkassky, Amanda McKerrow, and John Gardner. She had the opportunity to work with Ballet Tucson for several years, as a dancer, teacher, and choreographer. While there she also began her pilates training. Since her return to Michigan she has taught locally for competitive and non-competitive students and studios. She has acted as ballet mistress and choreographer for the West Michigan Youth Ballet.

Modern Dance Instructor: Amy Wilson

Amy Wilson graduated from Wichita State University with a BFA in Dance, with an emphasis on modern, ballet, and jazz. Amy moved from NYC to Grand Rapids, MI in 2001, ultimately founding Dance in the Annex, a contemporary dance collective. DITA regularly hosts Master Classes and produces two ongoing, large-scale concerts featuring original works by DITA and Guest Artists. "Salmagundi" (Fall) and "Trip The Light" (Spring) involves nearly 50 musicians, performers, choreographers, technical engineers and volunteers. In addition to master classes, performances and site-specific work, Wilson has added dance-on-camera productions to the DITA repertoire - the DITA portfolio now includes many high-quality, original works. Amy has worked as an adjunct professor of dance and guest choreographer and instructor at Grand Valley State University, Zeeland High School, balletmore, ADCFA (American College Dance Festival Association) and several dance studios in West Michigan. She has set pieces for Grand Rapids Symphony Women’s Committee, Moms Bloom, UICA NoshNight, OddBall, RadFest hosted by Wellspring/Cori Terry and Dancers in Kalamazoo, MI., TEDx Grand Rapids and SiTE:LAB. Most recently DITA was awarded the Time Based Juror Award for their piece respirador (breather) at ArtPrize 2014. Amy was recently awarded the ArtPrize 2015 Fellowship for Emerging Curators.

Guest Instructor: Yuka Oba

Yuka was born in Japan where she received her training from Hitomi Takeuchi Ballet School. In 2006, Yuka attended English National Ballet School in the UK where she also danced many soloist roles. Upon graduating, Mario Radacovsky invited Yuka to join the Slovak National Ballet where she danced a variety of roles. Yuka was then invited to join the Grand Rapids Ballet in 2011 where she has since danced principal roles in ballets by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Olivier Wevers, and Penny Saunders. Yuka has won many competitions in Japan including NBA All Japan Ballet Competition, Saitama All Japan Dance Competition, UB All Japan Ballet Union Competition, International Ballet Competition in Yokohama and others. In 2013, Yuka had the honor of performing Olivier Wever’s The Sofa at the Joyce Theatre in New York and reprised her role in Seattle, WA. Yuka performed Le Corsaire Pas de Deux in the gala at The National Theatre in Tokyo and the Pas de Deux from Le Carnaval de Venise in Fukushima. In 2014, Val Caniparoli choreographed Clara on Yuka for the world premiere of The Nutcracker. She also choreographed Tomorrow Never Comes on Grand Rapids Ballet for their MOVEMEDIA program in 2015.