In 1991, Firebird Dance Studio — known then as the Lysaya Dance School — was born. Founded by world-renowned teacher and choreographer Roza Lysaya after her immigration to the US from the USSR, Firebird began as a small class of 6 students, focusing on traditional folk dances from Russia and around the world. Fast forward to the present, and we now have well over 100 participants ranging from the age of 18 months in our youngest group to the adults in our performing dance troupe, Firebird Dance Theatre. Under the direction of award-winning dancer, teacher, and choreographer Lotta Lysaya Burton since 1999, Firebird has continued to expand with more classes and performances, and win over larger and larger audiences locally, nationally, and abroad. Taking inspiration from different techniques and cultures around the world, our repertoire of dances and classes has evolved into a unique program with a fusion of modern, folk, lyrical, ballet, and ballroom dance. Nearly 25 years later, our horizons continue to broaden with each new dance and project that we undertake.
Dance Shows & Choreography Timeline
Firebird has a long tradition of creating original dance shows and unique choreography for our performing dance troupe, as well as for our dancers ages 3 and up. Some highlights from over the years include 2006 when, as part of our 15th Anniversary celebration, Firebird Dance Studio and Theatre premiered their unique reinvention of the classic story, Alice in Wonderland, followed by a tour to Montreal, Canada, with a performance at the prestigious Place Des Artes.
In 2007, Firebird debuted, Quintessence, a unique theatrical experience in which director Lotta Lysaya Burton created a world where Firebird dancers interacted with live performances from the world-renowned Licedei Clowns and famous Russian rock bands Ivan Kupala and Redi Elvises.
In 2008, Firebird Dance Theatre premiered Simcha, a warm and celebratory dance show, embracing Jewish heritage and family, tradition, change, and love.
In 2011, their fourth original show, Imaginarium, was born, and explored the rich and vibrant world of a vintage, travelling circus.
In 2012, as part of their 20th Anniversary Celebration, Firebird performed Best of 20, a retrospective look at their most beloved dances and shows from over the years.
Director Lotta Lysaya Burton has also created a number of beautiful, shorter dance suites, including the Rosh Hashanah Suite, Puppet Show Suite, and most recently, our namesake Firebird Suite, which premiered in 2014.
Read more about our previous original shows on the Theatre page.
Performing and Travelling
Firebird has had a rich history of traveling and performing. They've travelled to Russia's International Children’s Center, ARTEK, winning two consecutive years at ARTEK's annual dance festival. They have toured in Israel — performing at the International Freindship Festival, in Knesset, Israeli Parliament — and in Canada — including standing ovations at Montreal's massive Place Des Arts Theater. They've also performed on Las Vegas’ Fremont Street, and aboard the Carnival Cruiseship Elation.
Firebird has also organized summer workshop programs for their dancers and creative exchanges with other performing groups nationally, as well as in St. Petersberg, Jerusalem, Montreal, Puera Vallarta, and Cancun.
Recognition and Honors
Firebird has received dozens of honors over the past two decades. Most recently, in 2012, 2013 and 2015, Firebird became a three-time winner of the Best of Mountain View Award in the Performing Arts Category. In 2015 after their third Best Of award, they were inducted into the Best of Mountain View Hall of Fame. Check out an extended list of awards.
Firebird has been honored to perform for S.F. Mayors Willy Brown and Gavin Newsom, the Society of Artistic Heritage of Quebec, and the Israeli Parliament, among others. In 2004, they received the “Outstanding Performance” honor from the Quebec Society of Artistic Heritage, and in 2006 were invited back for the Quebec Folklore Dance Festival in Montreal.
They've also performed on the finest Bay Area stages including the Palace of Fine Arts, Herbst Theater, S.F. City Hall, Union Square, Zellerbach Hall, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.