Kirov Academy of Ballet

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Kirov Academy of Ballet
4301 Harewood Rd NE, Washington, D.C.
United States of America
Coordinates 38°56′28″N 77°00′12″W / 38.941°N 77.0032°W / 38.941; -77.0032Coordinates: 38°56′28″N 77°00′12″W / 38.941°N 77.0032°W / 38.941; -77.0032
Type Ballet school
Established 1989 (1989)
Opened 1990
Grades 6th through 12th
Campus size 1.2 acres

The Kirov Academy of Ballet (formerly the Universal Ballet Academy[1]) is a ballet school in Washington, D.C. Its function is to train ballet dancers through the principles and aesthetics of the Vaganova method of Classical Ballet taught at the Vaganova Choreographic Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Mission Statement[edit]

The mission of the Kirov Academy of Ballet is to prepare students to become the next generation of classically trained ballet dancers through the principles and aesthetics of the Vaganova Method of Classical Ballet taught at the Vaganova Choreographic Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia. Concurrently, students pursue a multi-faceted academic program including the core subjects and the arts, each furthering the objectives to build a solid educational foundation, and to create, cultivate, and prepare the student for life as a professional artist. The proactive resident life program supports the Academy’s mission as it strives to refine and broaden the student’s experiences through constructive cultural, artistic, and creative endeavors that support the development of professional dancers.


Founded in 1989, and opening its doors in 1990, the Kirov Academy of Ballet is the epitome of world-class ballet training. Students from around the world attend this institution to prepare for a professional career in classical ballet. The faculty teaches using the methodology and training method of the St. Petersburg-based Vaganova Ballet Academy, famous and influential classical ballet school with a legacy more than 270 years old. The Kirov Academy of Ballet (KAB) exists to continue that legacy in the United States and make it relevant to today’s dancers.


Co-Artistic Directors[edit]

Adrienne Dellas Thornton-

Born in Detroit, Michigan to parents who immigrated from Greece and Australia, Adrienne Dellas began ballet instruction at four years of age. She studied with an array of teachers, including Enid Ricardo, Robert Joffrey, Hector Zaraspe, Richard and Barbara Thomas, Alexandra Danilova, Perry Brunson, Birger Bartholin, Vera Volkova and Ludmila Morkovina. She turned to teaching at the age of 20, following a career-ending accident.

A master teacher for more than 40 years, Adrienne Dellas trained and coached dancers from all over the world. As her reputation grew, she was invited to South Korea to launch the new Ballet Department of the Little Angels Arts Middle and High School. Based on its success, she established the now internationally acclaimed Universal Ballet Company in Seoul. As the company’s Founding Artistic Director, she choreographed numerous original full-length ballets, as well as restaging many of the classics.

Soon after the Universal Ballet Company began, Ms. Dellas choreographed an original full-length classical ballet “Shim Chung,” which was performed for the Tenth Asian Games 1986 Arts Festival and at the XXIV Olympic Games Seoul Arts Festival in 1988. She was awarded the Gold Medal for Artistic Achievement in Teaching and Choreography by the Korean President in 1988.

Returning to America, she taught for nearly ten years at the newly established Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC, which was born out of the foundation of the Little Angels Arts Middle and High School and the Universal Ballet Company. As the only American teacher among the Russian faculty at the Kirov, she trained hundreds of dancers, many of whom are now principal dancers of major international ballet companies. During her tenure at the Kirov Academy, she was invited to teach and choreograph at the world-renowned Vaganova Academy of Classical Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia.

From 2001-2008, she was the Academy Director at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles, where she directed the master teachers of ten dance programs ranging from classical ballet to hip-hop.

Adrienne Dellas is internationally known for her expertise in teaching and choreographing for ballet companies, television and cultural events, directing and teaching ballet intensives, judging competitions, creating and conducting specialized teacher seminars, and coaching professional dancers.

Brian Yoo (Bingxian Liu)-

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.

Executive Director[edit]

Jonathan Park-

Mr. Park has been associated with the Academy since 2009 as a member of the Board of Directors. His years of dedication to ballet and artistic education include membership on several boards of directors of ballet and arts education organizations that have positioned him to assume his new expanded role as the executive head of the school. His professional career heretofore has been primarily focused on executive management of business enterprises in multiple fields in the United States and Korea.

In discussing his goals for the Academy, Mr. Park explained, “The Kirov Academy has been at the pinnacle of professional ballet education from its inception. After 23 years of stellar accomplishment KAB needs to make some necessary updates to prepare for another generation of success. I hope to strengthen KAB organizationally, artistically and financially so that we can carry out our mission to find and train the very best talented students of ballet from all over the world so that this beautiful art form can be perpetuated and enjoyed by all. It is truly inspiring to be here, watching youngsters working so hard to grow as ballet dancers, and as people. I feel very deeply that KAB is a national treasure.”



The Kirov is located on a 1.2 acre campus in northeast Washington, D.C., near The Catholic University of America. The 50,000 square foot gated facility features dormitories, four rehearsal studios and a flexible multipurpose space, 300-seat theatre, classrooms, computer lab, full kitchen and cafeteria, dance library, recreation room, exercise room and locker rooms with hot tubs.[citation needed]

Performance series[edit]

The Kirov’s spring and winter performance series are held in the academy’s 300-seat auditorium. Annually, the six performances serve more 1,800 people, including student performers, family members, children (including from underserved populations), and ballet aficionados of all ages.

Notable graduates[edit]

The Kirov’s most notable accomplishment is its ongoing ability to train ballet dancers, who have gone on to perform with such professional companies as American Ballet Theatre, The Royal Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, and the San Francisco Ballet, to name a few.[citation needed]

Graduates of The Kirov Academy of Ballet include Sascha Radetsky, Rasta Thomas, Hee Seo, Michele Wiles, Danny Tidwell, Tyler Nelson, and Maria Bystrova.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Kim, James S. (11 March 2015). "South Korean Ballerina Hee Seo Dazzles in 'The Sleeping Beauty'". KoreAm. Seoul, South Korea. Retrieved 1 November 2015.