When students join our studio, they will be trained by our elite team of professional ballet dancers, all former members of renowned ballet companies around the world. In addition, we have partnered with State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara. This partnership provides our students the opportunity to dance and work with elite dancers in a professional ballet company. We have found that observing and dancing with these professional dancers inspires our students to even greater levels of achievement, focusing their goals and dedication to train.

Yukari Thiesen

School Director. A former soloist with the Matsuyama Ballet, Tokyo, Japan: Director Valley Performing Arts Council: Artistic Director Fresno Ballet Theatre. Ms. Thiesen has been the Producer of “The Nutcracker” with the Sacramento Ballet and also with the Russian Festival Ballet. She has been the presenter of the annual spring tour of the State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara since 2010. She has presented and produced the Company’s Fresno performance of “Snow White & Seven Dwarfs” “Cinderella” “Beauty and the Beast” Alice in Wonderland” “The Jungle Book” “The Secret Garden” “Don Quixote” “Romeo and Juliet” “Sleeping Beauty”. She also was the director/choreographer for outreach productions of “The Little Match Girl”, “Snow Queen”, “Cinderella”, “From the Sleeping Beauty”, “Swan Lake Act III” and other ballets for over 205,000-grade school students from 25 school districts. Her choreographic works for other companies include a section for the Sacramento Ballet in “The Nutcracker”, “Merry Widow” for Fresno Grand Opera, and Producer of the ballet scene in “Carmen” for FGO. She has directed and taught ballet programs for over 600-grade school students in seven elementary school districts.

She was the recipient of the 2013 Artists in Residence Grant from the Fresno County Office of Education and the 2017 Outstanding Teacher’s Award from the Foundation at Fresno County Office of Education.

During the COVID 19 school shutdown, she directed and produced “The Visual Nutcracker Study Guide” which reached 20,000 school children in the Valley through Zoom.

Maria Fliagina

Graduated with distinction from the Perm State College of Choreography in Russia, the official school of Perm Ballet: formerly with the Moscow State Theatre Kremlin Ballet. She has performed roles in all the famous classical ballets and has toured internationally with the Russian Imperial Ballet, Moscow Classical Ballet, and the Moscow Festival Ballet. She joined State Street Ballet as a dancer in 1998. She was promoted to be Ballet Master of the Company and now holds the position of Repertory Director. Since 2011, she has produced “Sleeping Beauty Act 3”, “La Sylphide” “The Little Humped Back Horse” “Don Quixote’ “Chipolino” “The Mid-Summer Night Dream” “Swan Lake” “Coppélia” for the annual recital production of Northwest Studio for Ballet. She is currently producing “La Bayadère” and “The Firebird” for the Studio. Her extensive knowledge and experience in classical ballet have been adding rich and genuine academic value to the advanced level students at Northwest Studio.

Yulia Gamboni

Yulia Gamboni is a native of Odessa, Ukraine.She was trained in classical Russian Vaganova Ballet method at the Grand Opera and Ballet House in Odessa Ukraine. She also holds a BA Degree in Liberal Arts and Dance. In 1993 she received a bronze medal and Title of Laureate at the Moscow International Ballet Competition of “Ballet Russ”. She owned and directed her own ballet school in Ukraine prior to moving to the United States.

Monica Petrucci

Former dance instructor at Roosevelt School of the Arts who now teaches at Fresno City College Dance Department. She helped to establish the ballet program at Sequoia Middle School from 2015 to 2017. She was a member of Santos Modern Dance Company in San Francisco from 2005 to 2008 and a guest member with the Nevada Ballet Theatre in 2008.

Guest Faculty

Kenneth Balint

California State University Fresno Theater Dance Department Professor: Professional ballet dancing career including the Hartford Ballet, Omaha Ballet, Princeton Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Ballet Arizona. before joining the faculty of CSU. His choreographies have received awards at American College Dance Festival.

Aaron Smyth

Born on the Gold Coast Australia, Aaron Smyth dancer, actor, and entrepreneur has been a company member with the American Ballet Theatre II in New York, The Royal Ballet in London where he created a role in Christopher Wheeldon’s Titian: Metamorphosis a collaboration with the National Gallery, and The Joffrey Ballet in Chicago were he danced soloist and principal roles. He travels the globe as a guest principal artist. He has recently performed on London’s West End in Christopher Wheeldon’s New Musical An American In Paris.

He’s danced on TV, appearing on two series of the Got Talent. He appeared as the Snow Cavalier in Disney’s upcoming feature film The Nutcracker and the Four Realms in 2018. Mr. Smyth has also won numerous medals in International Ballet Competitions and is the Founding Director of his company “Dance For Humanity” and wellness house EC1 Studios in London. 


He was Basilio in “Don Quixote” in 2015, Romeo in “Romeo and Juliet” in 2017, and Cavalier in “The Nutcracker 2018 with the State Street Ballet Fresno tour and danced with Fresno Ballet Theatre. He was Prince Siegfried in “Swan Lake’ in 2018 and Frantz in “Coppėlia” in 2019 in our Recital. He is scheduled to perform as Solor in “La Bayadėre” in Northwest Studio Recital 2021 and as Cavalier in “The Nutcracker” 2021 Fresno Tour with State Street Ballet. He joined Northwest Studio Summer Program as a guest faculty member in 2019 and 2021 and will perform in “La Bayadère” for the Recital 2021 and “The Nutcracker 2021”.

Alexey Kulpin 

Alexey Kulpin is a graduate of the Institute of Culture and Art in St. Petersburg, Russia. He holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in ballet pedagogy and choreography. In 1998, he was the Grand Prix winner at the Muse of St. Petersburg Ballet Competition. As a professional dancer, Mr. Kulpin has performed soloist and principal roles in both classical and contemporary ballets in Russia, Israel, and the United States. He danced professionally with St. Petersburg State Opera Ballet, St. Petersburg State Male Theatre by Mihailovsky, Ballet Israel, City Ballet of San Diego, Grand Rapids Ballet, Charleston Ballet Theater, Stars of St. Petersburg Municipal Theater of Music and Dance, and Krasnoyarsk Dance Ensemble.

Mr. Kulpin specializes in teaching classical ballet, male and female variations, and character dance. His teaching career includes the Ballet Israel School, City Ballet of San Diego, Grand Rapids Ballet, and Charleston Ballet Company, where he taught company classes and served as director of the Charleston Ballet Young Artists Group. Most recently, he served as a principal ballet teacher for Northern California Dance Conservatory. He has staged classical variations and choreographed solos for performance and ballet competitions, including Youth America Grand Prix. Mr. Kulpin joined The HARID Conservatory’s faculty in August 2016.

He remains active as a guest teacher and a ballet competition judge. He joined Northwest Studio Summer Intensive Ballet as a guest faculty member in 2016, 2017, and 2019.

Joy Thiesen

Alumni Northwest Studio for Ballet: Formerly with Ballet Arizona under the direction of Ib Andersen (former principal dancer with New York City Ballet through the personal invitation of George Balanchine). Her ballet teachers include Marat Daukayev – Former Artistic Director of the Kirov Academy of Ballet, Meelis Pakri – former Ballet Master of Colorado Ballet, the Royal Ballet School in London and current faculty member of Harid Conservatory, and Kee Juan Han- former Director of the School of  Ballet Arizona, currently the Director of School of Washington Ballet. She has performed in “Merry Widow” and choreographed and performed in “Carmen” with Fresno Grand Opera. She is an Honor Graduate from UC Davis and MFA from St. Mary’s College, California. She was a lecturer with CSU Fresno, Fresno City College, and Clovis Community College until her relocation to San Francisco Bay Area in June 2019.  She is the heard of the Dance Department at Mercy High School, an all-girls private school in Burlingame.