DIRECTORS / INSTRUCTORS
Co-Founder & Instructor
“Suddenly came “Faith” and the whole ballet was lifted to a higher level. Much of the exhilaration came from the dancing of Xavier Ferla”“Ferla raises the bar with trim leaps and serpentine footwork”
“a ballet background has strengthened the line, elevated the center, enhanced the allure and upped the risk taking”
“alone would be enough to make this dance a gift of joy”
San Francisco Examiner
Xavier Ferla, a Swiss native, began dance at the age of four with the Academy of Geneva. At 12 years old, he continued his studies with Serge Golovine principal dancer and professor with l’ Opera de Paris. At the age of fourteen, he won a scholarship to join Hamburg Ballet School under the school direction of Truman Finney. In 1985, he won the prestigious Prix de Lausanne world ballet competitions in New York which enabled him to finish his studies with a Rolex Company scholarship.
He was engaged by Maurice Bejart, director of the Ballet of the 20th Century, where he was promoted into his first principal role within two months. He accepted principal contracts with Berlin Ballet under the direction of Peter Schauffus and The Royal New Zealand Ballet. He also worked as a freelance artist for many companies in Sweden, Denmark, and the United States.
He created pieces with reputable choreographers such as Maurice Béjart, John Neumeier, Sir Kenneth Mc Milan, Christopher Bruce, Alonzo King, Peter Schauffus, Matz Skoog, Kristof Pastor, Pascal Touzeau, Stephen Petronio, Michael Clark, Yannis Adoniou, Meg Stuart, Karole Hermitage, Valéry Panov, Patrick King. In 1988, he joined Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet in San Francisco.
As a dancer, he knew he would pass on his knowledge and continue his passion through teaching. His teaching parallels his exemplary professional career. He collaborates and creates with his wife, Maggie Parungao – Ferla, at their school, Dance Theatre International.
Besides being Dance Theatre International’s Principal Ballet teacher, he is a freelance teacher invited to teach in professional dance companies internationally such as the Dresden Ballet in Germany, the Royal Swedish Ballet in Stockholm and the Tokyo Ballet with the Sylvie Guillem Tour. He was called to be an official judge for the Prix de Lausanne world ballet competitions.
Co-Founder & Instructor
Maggie believes that students and educators should begin with the intent to give their best.Maggie brings over 40 years of experience in dance and theatre performance. She was a professional ballerina with San Francisco Ballet, Bejart Ballet in Switzerland and the Hamburg Ballet in Germany performing soloist, principal, and corps de ballet roles in a wide variety of Classical Ballet, Contemporary and Modern dance.
She performed at the Paris Opera, John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D. C., Herodes Atticus Amphitheater in Athens, Spoleto Festival in Italy, Olympics 1984, Salzburg’s Mozart Festival and San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House, to name a few.
As a dancer, she worked with acclaimed choreographers such as Maurice Bejart, John Neumeier, Helgi Tomasson, William Forsythe, David Bintley, Mats Ek, Lars Lubovitch, Val Caniparoli, james Kadelka and Elisa Monte performing in world premiere pieces.
She produced and choreographed in multi-disciplinary contemporary dance works to Classical Ballet and film. Some of her pieces include “Sleeping Beauty”, “Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “Les Sylphides”, “A Carnival of Animals”, “The Nutcracker” and “Alice in Wonderland”.
Maggie is the private movement and ballet coach of Olympic and World Competition ice skater, Polina Edmunds. She mentored, trained, and coached students who have become dancers with San Francisco Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Oakland Ballet Company and the Julliard School. Her students have also received notable judge’s awards at various competitions such as YAGP.
Maggie is grateful to have the opportunity to share her passion for dance with her community. She hopes that sharing her knowledge inspires the next generation of artists. She founded Dance Theatre International in 1994 and co- founded San Jose Youth Ballet, DTI’s non-profit company in 2003.
“Leading by Example: Extraordinary Women of the South Bay”
Elizabeth N. Insalaco-Latona’s dance experience spans 25 years. She began dancing at Studio One for the Performing Arts in North Little Rock, Arkansas in 1981 at age 3. Elizabeth danced with Studio One for 15 years, before moving to California to study dance and film. She spent 2 years dancing at Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz, while also attending Studio 10 Dance in San Jose, CA.
In 2002, Elizabeth graduated San Francisco State University with a BA in Cinema and a Minor in Dance. She taught dance at Hillsdale High School directly out of college, and coached their cheerleading and dance team, Funky Diva’s in Los Angeles, CA, The Ballet Barre, in LA, CA, and Reflections in Dance in Woodland Hills, CA. She spent 7 years working on Television and Film including the television shows Half and Half, Designing Women, According to Jim, and Saving Grace.
Most recently, she sold Studio One Dance in North Little Rock, Arkansas, where she was the owner and Artistic Director. She helped open the Argenta Community Theater, known as the Sally Riggs Insalaco Theater. Elizabeth credits her love for dance to her mother, the late Sally Riggs Insalaco whose dance career included Broadway, the Palace Theater in London and throughout the world.
Olga Iakovlevskaya graduated from the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet in 1978. Olga’s main mentor, Ninel Petrova, was one of the favourite students of famous Agrippina Vaganova. While performing in the theatre “Choreographic Miniatures of Leonid Jacobson” in St. Petersburg, Olga mastered a versatile repertoire. She could perform pure classical ballet numbers such as “Pas De Quatre” or “Female Variations” as well as character or grotesque dances as “Kumushki” (Gossipers) or “Rural Don Juan”.
The knowledge and skills she has gained helped her to become the in-demand teacher in Belgium where she moved to in 1993. Olga worked as a classical ballet teacher at the Royal Ballet School Antwerp and Brussels International Ballet School. She was in high demand as a guest teacher in various ballet schools in Belgium and the Netherlands and taught in various International Summer Programs. Later, she continued her career as a Senior classic ballet instructor at the Goh Ballet Academy in Vancouver, Canada.
An outstanding education Olga received in one of the best ballet institutions of the world was not narrowed down to the deep knowledge of the Vaganova method but amplied with serious research in the history of ballet and theatre, music, and art. All that formed Olga’s true passion for art, history, and philosophy. Olga’s interests and expertise brought her additional activities outside the ballet class. Olga has numerous letters of appreciation for her contribution to the development of cultural relations between Belgium and Russia; she was even awarded a gold medal “In honor of the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg” by the Russian President. The Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia, the EU, UNICEF, the Royal Family of Belgium and the Government of Belgium has recognized her.
2018 Ballet Intensive Guest
Artistic Director of Universal Ballet, Seoul, Korea
Artistic Director of Kirov Academy of Ballet, Washington, DC
Born in Jilin, China, Brian Yoo (Bingxian Liu) graduated from the Jilin Arts School and afterwards studied dance pedagogy at the Beijing Dance Academy. After graduating he taught for a while at his alma mater in Beijing, and after a few years, he moved to Seoul, Korea, joining Universal Ballet as a soloist. For two years, beginning in 1995, he was ballet master and choreographer at the Guangzhou Ballet in China, and from 1997 at the National Ballet of China in Beijing.
Dancers who prepared under his coaching have won gold and silver medals in the international ballet competitions in Varna, Paris and elsewhere. In 1999, Yoo returned to Seoul and rejoined Universal Ballet as Ballet Master.
He was promoted to Assistant Artistic Director in 2000, and Artistic Director in 2009. For a number of years he has also served as the Director of the ballet department of Sunhwa Arts Middle and High Schools in Seoul. While at Universal Ballet, he has choreographed several ballets for the company, most recently the company’s new full-length Korean ballet, The Love of Chunhyung, which was revived in 2014 as part of the company’s 30th Anniversary Season and took its first overseas trip in 2015 at the invitation of the Royal Opera House Muscat in Oman. His shorter works in the company’s repertory include Paganini Rhapsody, Rachmaninov Piano Concerto, and The Colors.
Joanna Berman was born and raised in San Rafael, California, where she received her dance training at the Marin Ballet under Maria Vegh. In 1984, after one year at the San Francisco Ballet School, she joined the company and was promoted to soloist in 1987. In 1988, Ms. Berman became a principal dancer and was one of the most celebrated members of San Francisco Ballet, before her retirement in 2002.
During her tenure, she danced the lead role in full-length works such as Giselle, Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, and Romeo & Juliet, in addition to numerous contemporary and classical works. Joanna had works created for her by choreographers including Mark Morris, Christopher Wheeldon, Helgi Tomasson, William Forsythe, David Bintley, Julia Adam,Yuri Possokhov, Val Caniparoli, and many others.
She is the recipient of two “Isadora Duncan Awards” (1994 & 2000). In addition to her extensive performance credits, Ms. Berman is in demand as a teacher and has served as a guest teacher for San Francisco Ballet, Australian Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theater, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Ballet British Columbia, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Houston Ballet, and Atlanta Ballet. In 2013 Ms. Berman joined SF Ballet School as a guest faculty member.
A native of Fort Wayne, IN, Brett began his professional career in 2002 where he joined Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet in San Francisco. For eight years he collaborated with Alonzo on numerous original works and toured extensively thought the U.S. and Europe. Brett received an Isadora Duncan Dance Award in 2009 for his performance in King’s, Rasa.
In 2010, Brett moved to the Netherlands to join Nederlands Dans Theater 1.
While at NDT, Brett had the great privilege to work with choreographers, Jiri Kylian, Paul Lightfoot and Sol Leon, Mats Ek, Crystal Pite and Ohad Naharin amongst others and perform their work throughout the Netherlands and in some of the most prestigious opera houses around the world.
Brett relocated back to San Francisco where he returned to LINES Ballet for the 2015/2016 Season and is now currently a freelance artist and on faculty with the LINES Ballet Educational Programs.
Bat Erdene Udval
Mr. Erdene Udval was born in Mongolia. He was trained at the Perm Ballet College in Russia. He was the principal dancer at the Russian State Ballet in Moscow. He performed internationally in over 40 countries performing major classical ballet and contemporary roles. He received the Silver Medal in the International Ballet Competitions. He is a teacher for the Kirov Ballet Academy and serves as a judge for the Asian Grand Prix and the Korea International Ballet Competitions.
Sofiane Sylve was born in Nice, France. She trained at Academie de Danse. She created principal roles in Forsythe, McGregor, Ratmansky, Scarlett, Wheeldon and Zanella pieces. She danced principal roles in Tomasson, Tomassson/Possokhov, Caniparoli, Van Manen, Robbins, Tudor and Balanchine. She performed at the Premio Danza&Danza Gala in Brescia, Italy; Chicago Dancing Festival, The Australian Ballet’s 50th Anniversary Gala, and Dutch National Ballet’s 50th anniversary. A principal guest faculty member at San Francisco Ballet School, she served as teacher/coach at Indianapolis International Ballet Competition in 2015.
Marie Larsson Sturdy
Marie Larsson Sturdy is born in Sweden and received her eduaction at the Royal Swedish Ballet school in Stockholm. Marie then went on to dance with companies such as Malmö Opera Ballet as a soloist and the Royal Swedish Ballet in the of repertoire of among others of George Balanchine, Hans Van Mannen, Maurice Béjart and Brigit Cullberg.
After moving back to her home town of Uppsala she founded the company Focus Dance in 1997. Marie has been awarded many prizes including the Honorary Medal from the city of Uppsala for her achievements in Dance . During her time with Focus Dance Marie has both choreographed and created many principle roles ,cooperating with dancers from the Cullberg Ballet and The Royal Swedish Ballet. Marie also founded the Green House Dance Project a young Nordic dance Company in cooperation with the Royal Swedish Ballet school to give young dancers the opportunity to perform and work with professional choreographers. Since 2012 Marie is the Artistic Director of Dans I Nord Sweden.