Our Staff


Lotta Lysaya Burton

Owner, Artistic Director, Choreographer

Lotta studied choreography at the St. Petersburg Institute of Performing Arts in Russia. She then was a soloist in the Moldovenyaska Dance Company, with whom she toured Europe and Asia, and performed on Russia's most prestigious stages: Kremlin Palace, Bolshoi Theater, Luzhniki Hall, and others. Following that, she began her teaching and choreography career at Sperantza, one of the top five children's dance ensembles in the former USSR.

In 1989, Ms. Burton immigrated to the US and studied Ballroom and Latin dance at the Arthur Murray Academy of Dance under Terry Leone, dance colsultant to major Hollywood films Salsa and Mambo Kings. Lotta then toured the US with the show, Kings of Mambo and taught at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio, where she was consistently on the elite list of Top 20 teachers in the Country.

In 1994 she joined her mother, founder of Firebird Dance School, Roza Lysaya, and began teaching and choreographing at the school. Lotta has been Firebird's artistic director since 1999, and her choreography has won the admiration of countless audiences around the world, including mayors, members of Israeli Parliament, and fellow directors and choreographers from Boris Eifman of the Eifman Ballet to Pavel Brun of Cirque du Soleil's "O".


Igor Harea


Igor Harea studied dance and choreography at the Chisinau Institute of Performing Arts in Moldova, with an emphasis in folk and classical dance. He received his teaching credentials in 1991. He danced professionally with Moldova's Chora Mare, touring the US and Europe extensively. Igor also taught dance technique at the Pedagogical University, before moving to the US. Since 1999, he has been Firebird's rehearsal director, much-loved principal instructor, and a soloist in Firebird Dance Theatre.


Maria Malyarchuk

Instructor, Ballroom & Latin and Contemporary Dance

Maria graduated with honors from the St. Petersburg University of Arts and Social Sciences — majoring in Ballroom and Contemporary Choreography — as well as studying under many of Europe’s top trainers in various dance forms, gaining excellent skills in Contemporary Dance, Classic Dance, Barre technique and Jazz. She's won many Ballroom & Latin championships, including multi-time Polish Open and Slovenian Open Champion, and a finalist in the Austrian Open Grand Slam, among others. Maria has choreographed in the Netherlands ATG British Theater, where she also trained Dutch Junior Chamions in Ballroom Dance. In Moscow, she was choreographer of the Moscow Children's Dance Academy, and a soloist dancer in Russia’s best contemporary companies including “BDDS”, “Buy Buy Ballet” and “Far For”.


Irina Ushakova

Instructor, Ballroom & Latin and Hip Hop Dance

Irina Ushakova graduated from the prestigious Saint Petersburg University of Arts and Social Sciences as an Artistic Director and Choreographer. She collaborated with Cirque Du Soleil artists as a choreographer on “The Amphibian Man” show. Irina continued her career as a principal dancer of the world famous Russian State Music Hall in Moscow. She’s performed over 1000 shows on stage and created more than a hundred shows for children, among which she's won Grand Prix at multiple Russian and International Festivals. Irina is a versatile dancer, with years of vigorous training in Ballroom, Latin, Hip-Hop, Popping, Jazz, and Folk dance.


Inga Lysaya


Inga Lysaya studied at the St. Petersburg Cultural Institute, majoring in choreography. In the 1990's she was a soloist in San Francisco's Khadra Folk Dance Company, before joining Firebird as an instructor. Since 2000, she has been teaching both group and private lessons to all ages at Firebird, performing in Firebird Dance Theatre shows, and of course, being Firebird's beloved, iconic clown character winning over the hearts of all our students, and countless audience members around the world.


Anna Burton


Anna Burton has been dancing with Firebird since she could walk. She is a soloist in Firebird Dance Theatre and was also a soloist in the Bearcat Ensemble from 2009-2013. She has travelled to New York for intensive workshops with Broadway Dancers including Adam Perry, and she has years of formal training in world dance, contemporary, jazz, tap, and ballet, studying under Lotta Lysaya Burton, Firebird Instructors, and Robyn Tribuzi, among others.


Ilya Vasilyev

Instructor, Ballroom & Latin Dance

Ilya Vasiliev received rigorous Ballroom and Latin training since age 7, studying under top European trainers and coaches, and at the Russian State University. He's won numerous Ukranian and International championships including being 2-time winner of the Polish Open Championships, winner and repeated finalist of the Slovenian Open Championships, and a finalist in the Austrian Open Grand Slam, among others. He's had ample experience training dancers and performing.