Ballet Shoes

Meet our Instructors

Tara Martin

Tara spent her early dance training in Vancouver under the direction of Maureen Martinique, training in RAD syllabus and carried on to a professional career of teaching. 

Moving to Whistler, being mentored by Codi Dalen and then developed a community Dance Program that has enabled children from many different backgrounds to Have the opportunity to dance. 


“Dance is a hidden language of the soul.”

Tara has felt extremely blessed to have been surrounded by so many talented teachers and students over the last 30 years. Her goal is to pass on her passion for the gift of dance to the next generation. 





Natasha Sarafanova was born in Kiev Ukraine and started learning Classical Ballet at the Kiev Ballet Academy from the age of 10. When she graduated at the age of 18, Natasha started working as a professional dancer and had a very successful career for over 20 years.


Natasha is also the proud mother of world renowned principal dancer Leonid Sarafanov formerly of the Mariinsky Theatre ( Saint  Petersburg, Russia) now with Mikhailovsky Theatre( Saint Petersburg, Russia). Leonid followed his mother and fathers footsteps as well as his grandparents and is now considered to be one of the top classical ballet dancer’s in the world. Both Leonid and his wife Olesya Novikova are special guests of many major ballet companies all over the world like Tokyo Opera House ( Japan), Teatro Alla Scala ( Italy), Vienna State Opera House ( Austria).

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Lena Chizhova was born in Kaliningrad, Russia. At the age of 18, she graduated from the Kazan (Russia) College of Cultural Arts, Faculty of Dance, with a Diploma in Professional Dance and Dance Education. There she studied Classical Ballet and Character Dance. After she graduated, she started her career as a professional dancer and, in 1989, moved to the Ukraine. She then established the Ballet School“Nocturne,” which is still operating and well-known in Odessa. 


While at the Nocturne Ballet Studio, Lena served as the Manager and Head Choreographer until 2009, when she moved to Canada. One of Lena’s career highlights was the recipient of the 2007 Best Teacher and Manager Award from the Ukraine Minister of Education. Lena was also instrumental in organizing and choreographing cultural events, showcasing many of her students in Munich and Paris. Lena was also invited to judge dance competitions held in Odessa. Many of Lena’s students have gone on to have successful dance careers as dancers and dance instructors.

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Jazz, Lyrical & Contemporary

Tayla Haswell began dancing at Ingrid Green’s Academy of Ballet in Durban, South Africa. Following immigrating to Canada, Tayla trained and graduated from Vimy Ridge Academy’s Professional Dance Program in Edmonton, Alberta. Throughout her training, Tayla danced as a soloist for 4 years with the Edmonton Festival Ballet Company while earning her Advanced II RAD Ballet exam and Advanced I Cecchetti Ballet exam.


Tayla was very privileged to receive many training and performance opportunities throughout Canada and the United States, most notably with Alberta Ballet in Calgary, Ballet Jorgen and George Brown Dance in Toronto, and The Ailey School in New York City. While performing and training, both classically and commercially, Tayla earned her Bachelors degree in English and Kinesiology through The King’s University.


Tayla’s dance career has taken her to stages across North America, and she is excited to be sharing her knowledge and love of dance with the students at Sarafanov Dance Studio

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Hip-Hop & Musical Theatre

Danny Tagle was born and raised in Manila, Philippines. His professional career started at the age of 9 as one of the kids in Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Imajé intl. 1992). 


The following years were a remarkable journey, as he worked for one of the most outstanding theatre companies in the Philippines. 

- Repertory Philippines (Pinocchio 2003), Wizzard of Oz (2004). 


He continued his journey working at the happiest place on earth, Disneyland (Hong Kong-2005-2012). He was the park’s dance captain, stunt captain, and assistant to the choreographer for ‘Flights of Fantasy Parade”. His dance credits were from the show festival of the Lion King, High school musical LIVE, Disney on Parade, Cars2 and Pirates of the Caribbean shows and TV commercials. 


Danny is also a musician and directed and choreographed a couple of shows in town, such as Rock of Ages (2016 and 2017), A Charlie Brown Christmas and Little Shop of Horrors from New Vintage Theatre. 





Growing up in Calgary, Destiny trained in various styles since the age of 6 including Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Lyrical, Acro and Hip-Hop. She was a member of The Young Canadians performing arts group and has been a gymnastics, dance, and acro instructor for the past 10 years. 

She has her level 1 gymnastics certificate and her acrobatic arts teaching certificate as well.

She is passionate about dance and moving your body daily. 


Tap, Lyrical & Jazz

Josie Weightman grew up in Salmon Arm BC, training at Just for Kicks and fell in love with dance right away!  Throughout her school years Josie competed all over the Okanagan, receiving high marks and provincial qualifications. Through her training she also completed numerous RAD Ballet Exams including her Advanced 2. Josie has danced at the Joffrey Ballet’s summer program, and was a member of Team Canada 2017 where she competed in Reisa Germany.  Most recently Josie has continued her training in LA at Millenium Dance Complex, and in Toronto at Underground Dance Centre. Josie is excited to be back this summer sharing her knowledge.





My name is Mackenzie! I have been passionate about dance since I was four, inspired by my mother who danced her whole life. I really enjoy different music that inspires people to move their bodies and express dance the way it feels to them! I’m so excited to continue on to my second year of teaching, and my 18th year of dance, and can not wait to see all the little ones bust a move!


Tip & Toes

Cheyenne has danced since she was 4 years old. Has competitively competed her whole dance career, first with Dance City Academy then finishing at Sarafanov. She has been teaching since she was 18 and absolutely loves it! Tap is her favorite dance style! I try to mix fun into all my classes so that everyone has a blast!




Guest Teacher
Lyrical & Modern


Melissa began her post-secondary dance education with York University in Toronto, and continued her education with Modus Operandi in Vancouver. While living in Vancouver she performed in various dance and art festivals as well as for the closing ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Her work as a dance educator for the past 15 years has allowed her to be recognized as an important role model and mentor for girls and young women. Melissa is committed to educating dancers how to respect themselves, and align their entire being in total health and love, supporting dancers through their creative process and life journey. 


Guest Teacher
Jazz & Lyrical

Miss Charlotte is originally from Charlottesville, VA where she started dancing at 3 years old. After moving to England, she was accepted with a full scholarship to Stella Mann College of Performing Arts and gained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance Education and Musical Theatre. She holds a Classical Ballet Teaching Certificate with the International Dance Teachers Association. Charlotte spent two years living and dancing in New York City with Undertone Dance Project, fusion jazz and tap dance company. In 2001, she appeared in a commercial for the Children’s British Broadcasting Channel and danced in ‘Sunday Night Live’ at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London’s West End. Now based in Kelowna, Charlotte loves teaching at Sarafanov Ballet Studio and loves all the energy the students bring to class each week!