Lirena Branitski, Ballet Instructor
Lirena was born and trained in the former Soviet Union. She was first soloist of the Kiev State Theatre of Opera and Ballet and a frequent guest performer on the stage of the famed Bolshoi Theatre. She has performed on stages throughout Europe, Canada and South America and has a vast performance repertoire of soloist and principal roles in both classical and contemporary ballets performing under all the master Russian choreographers, including the world-renowned Peter Gusev, Vakhtang Tchabukiani, Raisa Struchkova and Alexander Lapauri. After emigrating to the U.S. in 1980, Lirena taught at her own school as well as Minnesota Dance Theater. From 1989 to 2006 she taught and choreographed at Ballet Arts Minnesota and was instrumental in the careers of many dancers working in professional companies today. In 2012, she was the recipient of the Special Citation at the 2012 Minnesota SAGE Awards for her contribution to local dance.