Meet the Faculty

piarusso_smPia Russo | School Principal

Ms. Pia Russo is a renowned Master Teacher, who has worked with the most important Italian companies. Following a distinguished career as Leading Dancer, she co-founded one of the most successful private companies in Italy, Fabula Saltica. Her experience as a teacher has given her a special insight into the needs of young dancers. And her background of Italian artistry, Russian classical ballet, and contemporary American dance adds a unique flavour to her teaching.

Her career as a dancer spans over twenty-four years, beginning in Reggio Emilia with the Così-Stefanescu Ballet Company performing most roles of the classical ballet repertory including Don Quixote, Coppelia, and Raymonda. In 1986, she established the Fabula Saltica Company where she was featured in works by Gheorghe Iancu, Thierry Parmentier, Gabriella Borni, Orazio Messina, Robert North, Robert Cohan and many other leading choreographers.

In 1996, after two years of intense studies at the Teachers’ Academy of the Teatro Alla Scala in Milan, she graduated in Ballet Pedagogy as Master Teacher of Classical-Academic Ballet.

Since her graduation she has served on the faculty of the La Scala Dance Academy, one of the most prominent dance academies in the world. She was also the director of the Professional Dancers’ Workshops, financed by Region of Veneto, and continues to be a Guest Master Teacher and Guest Ballet Mistress with the top Italian ballet companies, such as the Fondazione Arena di Verona, Balletto del Sud in Lecce, Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, Balletto di Roma, Teatro Massimo in Palermo and Balletto di Milano.

Her students dance in some of the most important Italian companies: Teatro San Carlo in Naples, Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Teatro alla Scala in Milan and Teatro dell’Opera in Rome.

Daniil Gaifullin | Faculty

Daniil Gaifullin was born in Okha, on the island of Sakhalin, Russia. He is a graduate of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, Russia. His teacher, Vladimir Koshelev, was a former Soloist of Bolshoi Ballet Theatre. During his eight years of ballet training and studying academics he performed the school ballet repertoire, in addition to performing children’s roles in Don Quixote and The Sleeping Beauty with the Bolshoi Ballet Theatre.

Upon graduation in 1987 he toured to England with the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. Throughout his dance career he was a Principal dancer with Donetsk Ballet Theatre in Ukraine, Ballet Mississippi, Charleston Ballet Theatre, Ballet de Santiago in Chile, and for 11 years he and his wife Stephanie Murrish, were the Principal ballet couple with Sarasota Ballet of Florida directed by Robert De Warren and coached by Pavel Fomin.

He has had the opportunity to work with V. Shumeikin, I. Nagy, S. Vikarev, T. Tichonova and Boris Eifman. He was a competitor in 1987 Ukraine ballet competition, a non-competing partner in 1990 USA IBC, and Semifinalist in 1994 USA IBC in Jackson, Mississippi.

He has performed a wide variety of classical and contemporary ballets including selections of pas de deux, and some character leading roles in Don Quixote, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Chopiniana, Coppelia, La Fille Mal Gardée, Paquita, Raymonda, Prokovsky’s The Nutcracker andVespri, Cinderella, Walpurgis Night, Ocean and Pearls, Robert De Warren’s The Nutcracker, Madame Butterfly, Alice in Wonderland, Firebird, Carmina Burana, Bolero, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Zal and Rudebah, Balanchine’s Apollo, Serenade, Rubies, Tarantella pas de deux, Vadim Fedotov’s Romeo and Juliet, Forever Mine pas de deux, Jimmy Gammonet’s Nous Sommes, Christopher Flemming’s Rock Opus,Romeo and Juliet, Fleming Flindt’s The Lesson, Robert North’s Troy Games, Vincente Nebrada’s Our Waltzes, Harold Lander’s Etudes, Natalia Makarova’s La Bayadere, Hilda Riveros’ Piaf, John Cranko’sRomeo and Juliet, Eifman ‘s Two Voices, Ricardo Bustemante’s Dvorak American, Stephen Mills’ Naughty Ones, Jill Eathorne-Bahr’s Dracula, Pavel Fomin’s Homage a Chopin, V.Shumeikin’s Franceska da Rimini.

He has performed in many galas and tours within the USA and abroad. As former Artistic Directors of the Lone Star Ballet and owners of the Ballet Amarillo Academy, he and his wife have staged/choreographed ballets such as The Nutcracker, Paquita, Firebird, Gala of Stars, Aurora’s Wedding, Swan Lake and La Traviata with the Amarillo Opera and numerous outreach performances within the community. He choreographed pieces for his students that competed in YAGP.

In 2003 he accompanied his wife to the 20th Anniversary gala of the N.Y.I.B.C., choreographing her solo “Forgotten Moment” which was reviewed as being exquisite. He has also guest taught for various schools in the USA and was part of the guest faculty in 2010 International Ballet School of the USA IBC that is held every 4 years in Jackson, Mississippi. He and his wife Stephanie reside in Tulsa and have a wonderful son, Nikolas.


Stephanie Murrish | Faculty

Stephanie Murrish was born in Jackson, Mississipi. She grew up in New Orleans where she began her training with Harvey Hysell, Gayle Parmelee and studied privately for one year with Maestro Vincenzo Celli, the last student of the legendary Maestro Cechetti. She is an alumni of the Nutmeg Ballet. As a result of the Prix de Lausanne, she was the first American to train on full scholarship at the Stedelijk Instituut voor Ballet, directed by Madame Jos Brabants in Antwerpen, Belgium with Maria Metchkarova from Kirov Ballet.

As a student she had the opportunity to work with Madame Joy Newton from the Royal Ballet while performing the role of Princess Aurora in the Sleeping Beauty and toured with the Royal Ballet of Flanders. She also received private coaching from Donna Bonasera, Xenia Kosorukov, Sasha Banderenko, and Bella Kovorskaya.

At the age of 16, she was an apprentice with the New Orleans Ballet, has been a Soloist with the Cincinnati Ballet, Principal Ballerina with the Ballet de Santiago in Chile, directed by Ivan Nagy, Charleston Ballet Theatre, directed by Jill Eathorne-Bahr, and for eleven years she and her husband, Daniil Gaifullin were Principal couple with the Sarasota Ballet of Florida, directed by Robert De Warren and coached by Pavel Fomin.

Her repertoire includes the principal roles in Don Quixote, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Chopinana, Coppelia, Paquita, Raymonda, Walpurgis Night, Natalia Makarova’s La Bayadere, Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella, The Nutcracker, Four Last Songs, Chang Shu pas de deux, Robert De Warren’s Madame Butterfly, Firebird, Carmina Burana, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Echo and Narcissis, The Nutcracker, Zal and Rudebah, Jill Eathorne-Bahr’s Dracula, Balanchine’s Apollo, Rubies, Serenade, Four Temperaments, Fleming Flindt’s The Lesson, Harold Lander’s Etudes, Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Concerto,Jimmy Gammonet’s Nous Sommes, Vadim Fedotov’s Romeo and Juliet, Forever Mine pas de deux, Christopher Fleming’s Rock Opus and Romeo and Juliet, John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet, Vincente Nebrada’s Our Waltzes, Hilda Riveros’ Piaf, Ricardo Bustemante’s Dvorak American, Stephen Mill’s Naughty Ones, and Pavel Fomin’s Homage a Chopin and various Pas de Deux.

She has performed in various galas, tours within the USA and abroad. She was a finalist in the New York International Ballet Competition, during which a documentary was made following her throughout the competition. It aired on the CBS show, “Dancing with a Dream” with Charles Karault. She is in the edition of Who’s Who in Entertainment, received the award for “Artistic Achievement” from Personalities of America, competed in the USAIBC, and is the 2007 recipient of the YAGP ‘Outstanding Choreographer’s Award’. As former Artistic Directors of the Lone Star Ballet and owner’s of the Ballet Amarillo Academy, she and her husband have staged/choreographed ballets such as The Nutcracker with the Amarillo Symphony,Firebird, Paquita, Gala of Stars, Alice in Wonderland, Aurora’s Wedding, Swan Lake and La Traviata with the Amarillo Opera and numerous outreach performances within the community.

She has also been guest teacher with various schools within the USA and was part of the guest teaching faculty at the 2010 International Dance School of the USA International Ballet Competition that is held every four years in Jackson, Ms. Joining the Tulsa Ballet Center for Dance Education in 2010, it is a privilege for Stephanie to be a part of passing on the great tradition of our art form to the next generation of the future.

Additional Faculty