Irina Ushakova was born in Chelyabinsk, Russia, and trained at the Perm State Choreographic College. Upon receiving her Diploma with Honors she became a soloist with Chelyabinsk State Opera and Ballet Theatre (Russia). Shortly after joining the company, she danced the roles of Maria (Fountain of Bakhchisarai), Aysha (Gayane), and Giselle (Giselle) before being promoted to principal dancer. She was awarded the Best Role of the Season prize for the role of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet. In 1986 and 1988, she became a bronze and silver medalist at the International Ballet Competition “Arabesque” in Perm, Russia. In 1989, she toured the United States with the Donetsk Ballet, followed by a tour of Israel and Turkey with the Bolshoi Ballet. She was invited to join the Donetsk State Opera and Ballet Theatre (Ukraine) as a principal dancer in 1989. Ms. Ushakova was a finalist in the 1990 International Ballet Competition held in Jackson, Mississippi.
Since her arrival in the United States in 1990, Ms. Ushakova has been a principal dancer with both Ballet Mississippi and Tulsa Ballet. She has performed leading roles in many classical ballets such as Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, Nutcracker, Coppelia, La Sylphide, and others, as well as neoclassical works such as Andre Prokovsky’s Anna Karenina, Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias, Ronald Hynd’s Rosalinda, George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations, Four Temperaments, Concerto Barocco, and Who Cares? She also has danced contemporary and modern works. In 1997, she returned to Russia as a guest artist to dance the role of Anyuta in Vladimir Vasiliev’s Anyuta with the Chelyabinsk State Opera and Ballet Theatre.
Since 2002, Ms. Ushakova has been a faculty member of the Dance Department at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities in Greenville, South Carolina. In 2007, she graduated from Chelyabinsk State Pedagogical University (Russia) with a Master’s Degree in Dance and Education.
Ms. Ushakova teaches A & B Ballet Technique, Pointe, Senior Ladies Ballet Variation, Historical Dance & Character, Repertoire, Methodology, is an Audition Preparation and Senior Showcase Mentor, and the National Honor Society for Dance Arts Coordinator.