Irina Akulenko is a New York City-based performer, teacher and choreographer, with a burning passion for arts of all genres. Although she discovered Middle Eastern dance purely by chance, her interest in expression started at an early age and was channeled into ballet training, in addition to piano and voice lessons as well as drawing. However, belly dance became her main addiction which she sustained by seeking instruction with numerous local teachers as well as visiting master performers. Since 2001, Irina explored both Egyptian Cabaret and American Tribal style belly dance, Odissi and Flamenco and now enjoys fusing these art forms as well as everything in between.
Today, Irina performs on various New York stages and tours nationally and internationally as a soloist and as member of various stellar projects. She completed successful tours around the world, teaching and performing in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Korea, Taiwan, Colombia, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, France, Iceland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. She released three successful instructional DVDs with World Dance New York (“Tribal Fusion Workout”, “Diamond Cut” and “Sculpted Blossom”) and two instructional series of videos with the popular website “Howcast.com”. Additionally, her performances were featured on “Fantasy Bellydance: Cult of Myth” DVD, “Fantasy Bellydance: Tarot” DVD and she could also be seen on Bellyqueen’s “Bellydance NYC: The Ultimate Fusion Experience” DVD. Irina is one of the principal dancers, instructors and choreographers with Bellyqueen Dance Theater, is the main choreographer and performer for Project “Bella Gaia” and an alumni member of Alchemy Dance Theater.
While home, she also directs her student troupe “Kiaroscuro Dance”, focusing mainly on Classical Indian fusion. She loves collaborating with other artists and has completed projects with Jillina (Bellydance Evolution project), Dalia Carella, BALAM Dance Theater, NY Gypsy All-Stars and many others. Irina is dedicated to continuing her dance education, always looking for new ways to be inspired. Furthermore, she holds a Bachelors degree in Political Science, and has a strong interest in women’s issues and visual arts.