Olga Yaroslavtseva Gershanok was born in Riga, Latvia (the former Soviet Union). At age nine, she started her professional training at the Riga Ballet Academy, where she was trained in all aspects of ballet, with a strong emphasis on traditional classical techniques. During her school years in the Academy, she performed at the Latvian National Opera House. After graduation in 1982 she became a member of the Latvian National Ballet, and in 1985 was promoted to principal dancer.
She performed leading roles in the full classical repertory including Swan Lake, Le Corsaire, The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and many others, touring internationally.
In 1989, while on tour, she defected from the Soviet Union, and became a member of the American Ballet Theater under Mikhail Baryshnikov. Over her eleven years with ABT, she performed a wide variety of soloist and leading roles, including Pas de Trois in “Swan Lake”, Harlots and Friends in “Romeo and Juliet”, Bathilda in “Giselle”, and Madame Vyrubova in “Anastasia”, as well as many others. Olga toured extensively with the company throughout the United States and around the world.
Upon leaving American Ballet Theater, she then went on to teach at the Y.M.C.A. Performing Arts School in Wycko , NJ. As teacher and choreographer, she worked with students ranging in age from 7 to 18 years, and taught all aspects of ballet from beginner to advanced, including pointe, variations, traditional and contemporary. She was the choreographer for award winning competitions and yearly recitals, as well as head choreographer for “The Nutcracker” performed at the YMCA in December 2010.
In the summer of 2011, Olga began teaching at the Greenwich Ballet Academy, and is very excited to be part of the faculty.