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Bolshoi Ballet Master Teacher with CBSF student backstage of Nutcracker

Faculty & Staff

Guidance is a crucial ingredient for success in any career, and requires communication and trust between the instructor and student. We empower our mentors to not only share the secrets of their wisdom, but also instill a love for the art form of classical ballet and other forms of dance within our students. Our instructors are equipped with experience from the top companies around the world, such as the Bolshoi Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Nederlands Dance Theatre, and more.

Galina Alexandrova
Galina Alexandrova, Artistic Director and Master Vaganova Teacher

Galina Alexandrova

Artistic Director

Galina Alexandrova is a world renowned ballet master. Having both danced in the top companies around the globe and trained countless professional dancers, Galina is a force to be reckoned with in the dance community. She has been featured in Dance Teacher Magazine, Pointe Magazine, and Dance Magazine, has judged for international competitions, and has also been named outstanding teacher 8 times by the Youth America Grand Prix.

Galina was born in Moscow, Russia to parents who were principal dancers with the Moiseyev Dance Company (Mikhail Alexandrov, her father) and the Stanislavsky Ballet (Svetlana Afanasieva, her mother) in Moscow for over 20 years. Following her parents’ footsteps, she was accepted to the legendary Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow at the age of ten.

Upon graduating from the class of N.V. Zolotova, Galina was personally selected by Artistic Director, Yuri Grigorovich, to become a member of the Bolshoi Ballet company. Galina danced there for seven years, performing many soloist roles in all of the Bolshoi's repertoire. She worked directly with ballet legends such as Vladimir Vasiliev, Ekaterina Maximova, Marina Kondratieva, Leonid Nikonov, Nikolai Simachev, Galina Petrova, Raisa Struchkova, Vasily Vorokhobko, with daily inspiration and mentorship from these ballet stars.

After meeting her American husband Ken, Galina immigrated to the U.S., where she joined the San Francisco Ballet. With the company, she performed many soloist roles in works by George Balanchine, Lew Christensen, Helgi Tomasson, and many more. She also worked directly with world-class choreographers such as James Kudelka, David Bintley, and Glen Tetley. After leaving San Francisco Ballet, she continued on to dance with San Francisco Opera Ballet, Lawrence Pech Dance Company, finishing her dancing career with Smuin Ballet.

In 2003, the opportunity to become Artistic Director of City Ballet San Francisco (CBSF) presented itself. Already equipped with vast knowledge from her own training and career, Galina was further mentored in the art of teaching the Vaganova syllabus by her mother Svetlana Afanasieva, a master teacher at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. Over her tenure as Artistic Director, she has built an international reputation for the school as being one of the finest Vaganova training facilities in North America. Many of Galina's students have gone on to dance professionally in companies such as American Ballet Theatre, Dutch National Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Semperoper Ballett (Germany), San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, Austin Ballet, Alberta Ballet, Colorado Ballet, as well as many more around the world.

Nikolai (Boys'/Men's Director, Ballet Technique, Partnering, Character)

Nikolai Kabaniaev

Boys'/Men's Director

Nikolai Kabaniaev has been in the field of classical ballet for over 45 years, sharing his passion for it and making a name for himself throughout his career. Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, he is a graduate of the prestigious Vaganova Ballet Academy. Nikolai went on to dance with the world renowned Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet where he danced for seven years, performing various soloist and principal roles in ballets such as Giselle, Les Sylphides, Cinderella, Paquita, Nutcracker, Napoli and Fountain of Bakhchisarai.

Upon immigrating to America in 1989, Nikolai served as Associate Artistic Director, choreographer, and men's technique and partnering instructor for three years at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington DC. He represented the academy as a judge at the 2011 Youth America Grand Prix New York Finals and 2012 Japan Grand Prix in Tokyo. 

Throughout his career, Nikolai has choreographed over 30 original ballets for numerous companies around the United States and abroad including Miami City Ballet, Maximum Dance Company, Kirov Academy of Ballet, New Orleans Ballet Theater, Faruk Rusimatov Touring Company in St. Petersburg, Russia, Nevada Festival Ballet, Maui Ballet, Ballet Fantastique, and many more. Nikolai has also staged classical repertoire such as Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, La Bayadere, Paquita, Nutcracker, Chopeniana, La Sylphide, Le Spectre de la Rose and La Vivandière, to name a few. 

Nikolai has passed on his love and knowledge of ballet, teaching ballet classes for San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, Maui Ballet, Mazatlan Ballet (Mexico), Reiko Ivache Ballet (Japan), Diablo Ballet, San Francisco Ballet School, Contra Costa Ballet and Company C Contemporary Ballet in Walnut Creek, California.

Since joining City Ballet San Francisco as the Boys’/Men’s Director, Nikolai has trained many young students into professional dancers, serving not only as their teacher, but also a mentor. His alumni have gone onto dance professionally in top companies around the globe, such as Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet, Norwegian National Ballet, and Joffrey Ballet.


Svetlana Siplatova

Ballet Technique, Variations, and Character

Svetlana Siplatova has over 13 years of experience as an accomplished ballet dancer and highly qualified teacher. She completed her ballet training at the Vaganova State Academy of Russian Ballet, having studied under such world-renowned figures as Altynai Asylmuratova, Ulyana Lopatkina, Irina Sitnikova and Lyudmila Kovaleva.

Svetlana began her ballet career at the prestigious Mariinsky Theatre. From 2008 to 2011, she distinguished herself in numerous featured roles in famous classical ballets, performing at theaters all over the world. Svetlana then moved to the Polish National Ballet in Warsaw, where she occupied the position of soloist, where she expanded on her repertoire of featured roles in both classical and neoclassical ballets. In 2015, Svetlana was offered the position of senior soloist at the Béjart Ballet Lausanne, one of the most respected and famous modern dance companies in the world.

Svetlana also received her Master’s in Pedagogy (with Honors) from the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet and has since, in parallel to her dancing career, taught a variety of age groups at schools in Switzerland, the UK, and the USA. Notably, Svetlana prepared the corps de ballet at The London School of Classical Ballet for a performance of Giselle that was attended by hundreds at London’s Cadogan Hall Theatre. After dancing countless leading roles in esteemed international theaters, Svetlana decided to retire from the Béjart Ballet Lausanne in 2020 and relocate to California, where she now passes on her knowledge to young ballet students.

Ruzana Iremashvili.jpg

Ruzana Iremashvili

Ballet Technique, Variations & Character

Ruzana Iremashvili graduated from the V. Chabukiani’s Tbilisi State Choreographic School as a Ballet Artist. She then joined the State Ballet of Georgia, whose Artistic Director is Nina Ananiashvili - a famous Prima-Ballerina of the Bolshoi Theatre and contemporary of Galina's.


With the State Ballet of Georgia, Iremashvili danced solo roles in Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Laurencia, Don Quixote, Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, working with renowned choreographers such as Giorgi Aleksidze, Michael Lavrovsky, Yuri Grigorovich and many others.  Iremashvili also attended the Tbilisi State University of Culture where she majored as a Ballet and Character Dance teacher/choreographer and earned her Bachelor Degree in Dance.


From 2010-2017, Ruzana taught at the Vladimir Issaev School of Classical Ballet as a Ballet and Character Dance Teacher-Choreographer. She choreographed numerous pieces for students of Vladimir Issaev’s School of Classical Ballet, and worked at its Summer Intensive Program with renowned guest teachers such as Elena Zabalkanskaya, Andrey Bossov, Larissa Ponomarenko. From 2016-2017, she doubled as a Ballet teacher/choreographer and judge for student choreography at the Miami Arts Charter School. Before joining CBSF, Iremashvili guested as a Ballet and Character teacher at numerous Summer Intensives and was a full-time teacher/choreographer at Soo Dance Company and Academy.

Brett Conway (Contemporary Teacher and Choreographer)

Brett Conway

Contemporary Teacher & Choreographer

Brett Conway is a dancer, choreographer, educator, and Artistic Director of SFDanceworks.


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 since 2017, he has also been on faculty with the LINES Dance Center and LINES Ballet’s education programs. 

Svetlana Scherba (Stretch and Strengthening)

Svetlana Scherba

Stretch & Strengthening

Svetlana Scherba trained in Artistic and Rhythmic Gymnastics at Zaporozhye Gymnastics School in Ukraine, where her ballet training was an organic part of the program. Later, Scherba continued her rhythmic gymnastics training in Minsk, Belarus, under the tutoring of the Belarus National Team coaches. She received a Master of Sports of the U.S.S.R. in Rhythmic Gymnastics Achievement Award, and has won numerous national and international competitions. Scherba also graduated from the Belarus Institute of Physical Education and Sports with a Bachelor of Science in Gymnastics Training and Exercise Therapy, given with distinction.

Featured Guest Teachers
Yuri Possokhov, World Renowned Choreographer and Ballet Master

Yuri Possokhov

World Renowned Choreographer & Ballet Master

Suki Schorer, Balanchine Ballet Master/Repetiteur

Suki Schorer

Balanchine Ballet Master

Ashley Wheater, Artistic Director of Joffrey Ballet

Ashley Wheater

Artistic Director

The Joffrey Ballet

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Marina Alexandrova

International Ballet Master

Kimberly Marie Oliver - Contemporary Teacher

Kimberly Marie Olivier

Contemporary & Neoclassical

Kimberly had a 12-year career with the San Francisco Ballet (2009-2021) before transitioning to her current role as a freelancing performing artist and dance instructor. Kimberly trained at Studio Maestro (2004-2006) before attending San Francisco Ballet School in 2007 becoming a Trainee in 2008-2009. Originally from New York, New York, she was a long-time student at Ballet Hispánico (1994-2006) where she trained in multiple dance forms including Flamenco, Horton, and Salsa. Kimberly performed with Ballet Hispanico’s Student Ensemble from the age of 11, during which she experienced her first tour with the company performing at the Hispanic Heritage Awards at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Kimberly credits much of her ballet development to her coach Charla Genn (2006-2021). Her modeling career began at the age of fifteen and she’s a signed model and actress with STARS agency & management. 

Nikolai Kabaniaev
Behind the Scenes
Ken Patsel, Executive Director CBSF

Ken Patsel

Executive Director

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Katia Patsel

Operations Manager


Kathy Brown

Head Costumer

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