Artistic Director & Choreographer Emeritus
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.
Irina Vassileni, Incoming Artistic Director
Ms. 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.
Ms. Vassileni began her training by entering the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow at age 10. After graduating with honors, 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 - 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.
Ms. Vassileni is passionate about handing down the knowledge she received from her training and professional career at the Bolshoi to a new generation of dancers and students. She believes that every student, regardless of aspirations, can benefit from the discipline of classical ballet and the skills and life-knowledge that is gained from the study of ballet. “My goal,” she says, is to impart the very best training to all of my students in a systematic way.”
Chien-Ming Lin, Ballet Master
Mr. Lin has an M.A. in Teaching Dance with a concentration in ABT Pedagogy from NYU Steinhardt. He is also certified in all levels of the ABT National Training Curriculum. From August 2010 through August 2017, Mr. Lin was Ballet Master and Program Director at a studio in Iowa. For the past year, Mr. Lin has been teaching at several schools in the New York area. Mr. Lin, who began his dance training in both ballet and traditional dance in Taipei, Taiwan, is also an accomplished traditional Chinese dancer and was selected for best technique award at the 2000 National Chinese Dance Competition in Taiwan.
Mr. Lin shares Ms. Vassileni’s belief that every student can benefit from the discipline of classical ballet and the skills and life-knowledge that is gained from the study of ballet. Mr. Lin’s teaching vision “is to cultivate dancers who are well-rounded artists, appreciating the work ethic, beauty, and rich history behind various dance forms and cultures.”
Cory Goei, Boys' Class
Cory is a West Michigan native and received his early training with the School of the Grand Rapids Ballet. He continued his training with scholarships to the Joffrey Ballet, Houston Ballet and the Cleveland/ San Jose Ballet. Cory began his professional career in 1997 performing leading roles with the Dayton Ballet and Ballet Met in Columbus, Ohio before returning to the Grand Rapids Ballet. Cory brings with him extensive teaching experience. While with Ballet Met, he helped to develop a comprehensive boys program. Cory’s strong athletic style and bounding energy has made him a favorite among students and audiences alike.
Denise Olson, Ballet Instructor
Ms. Olson holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Dance Education and a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from Western Michigan University. Ms. Olson’s 15 years of dance teaching experience include area dance schools, the Grand Rapids School of Performing Arts, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, and Calvin College. Denise’s professional dance experience includes the Joffrey Concert Dancers in New York and the Grand Rapids Civic Ballet where she performed lead roles in Gaite Parisianne, Coppelia, Les Sylphides, and the Nutcracker. In addition to her experience in dance performance and dance education, Ms. Olson spent over 20 years in elementary education in the Grand Rapids Public Schools.
Amy Wilson, Modern and Jazz Dance Instructor
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.
Grace VandeWaa, Jazz Instructor
Grace VandeWaa graduated from the University of Alabama with a B.S in Dance and Theatre. Grace also served as the Dance Captain for two large scale productions for the Theatre Tuscaloosa and was a company dancer with the Sanspointe Dance Company and the Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre. She has also taught at the Avalon School of the Arts in Holland, Michigan and was a Guest Dance Instructor for the Zeeland Highschool. We are excited to have Grace bringing Jazz to MBA.