Faculty & Staff

Irina Cowles — Artistic Director, Ballet


Irina Cowles, Artistic Director and owner of LIFT is a wife and mother. She enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom for a number of years, and has been active within the homeschooling and local Mom’s club communities.  She and her family are members of Grayson Bible Baptist Church in Sherman.

Irina majored in Business and Marketing at Indiana Wesleyan University, and worked in the corporate world before becoming a mother.

She began taking ballet lessons at age 4 in St. Petersburg, Russia under the tutelage of Nicholai Petrov, one of the Vaganova Ballet Academy graduates, and received many years of intensive Vaganova style ballet training.  She performed in numerous concerts, theater productions, competitions, and choreographed successful dance routines.

Irina is grateful for the opportunity to serve Van Alstyne and the surrounding areas and work with children and adults teaching dance.

Madame Suzelle Poole — Guest Instructor — Youth, Adult Ballet

Madame Suzelle Poole

We think that Madame Poole is the most interesting woman in the world! She has lived, studied, and worked around the globe and was trained by some of the ballet world’s brightest stars.

Besides performing professionally in both opera and ballet, she has been in an award winning film, and even done radio dramatizations and pantomime. She holds an Association Montessori Internationale diploma and was the head of a Montessori school in South Africa. Madame Poole has been a professional ballet soloist and teacher of classical ballet in Toronto, Montreal, London, Glasgow, Munster, Stuttgart, Cape Town, Houston, Dallas, and now, Van Alstyne. She continues to teach, choreograph, and perform in various venues in the Dallas area.

Madame Poole teaches pre-ballet, beginner, intermediate, and advanced ballet for children and adults up to the professional level.

Vicky Rutledge — Youth Dance, Tumbling Instructor

Vicky started dancing when she was two years old. She graduated in 1981 from the University of North Texas with a Bachelor’s degree in Dance. Since then she has been teaching dance and tumbling programs at the YMCA, Allen Community Education, and Princeton Community Education. In 1999 she took over the Dance Time studio in Anna where she has taught dance and tumbling to multiple generations. She and her family are long-time residents of New Hope, TX.

Grace Battle — Ballet & Aerial Arts Instructor

Grace fell in love with dance at a homeschool co-op in 2011. At the age of 13 she committed to classical ballet at TYBC taking up to 6 classes a week.

In the summers of 2016-2018 she attended Ballet Magnificat’s
SDI in Jackson, MS (2016-2017) and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet in Carlisle, PA (2018).

She began subbing at her home studio (TYBC) and at Joy of Dance in 2018. She is attending Ballet Magnificat’s Teacher Training (2019) to continue developing her teaching skills. She has a passion for sharing her love of ballet with others. She hopes to continue teaching for years to come.

Andrea Moog — Yoga & Aerial Arts Instructor

My name is Andrea Moog. I have always had a passion for movement and athletics. I trained in ballet and tumbling for 10 years. As an adult I decided to combine my love for graceful movement and strength in my practice of Yoga. I became a certified Yoga Instructor in 2011 and have been practicing and teaching yoga ever since. I’m currently pursuing 500-hour yoga training and I look forward to teaching classes at LIFT to kids and adults.

Megan Huff — Yoga and Aerial Arts Instructor

Graduate of Texas A & M University, Megan enjoys being a wife and mother, she found herself on a yoga mat for the first time in 2011 after a friend said it might be good for her.  In a matter of a few years Megan was not only in a regular practice, but teaching kids yoga and eventually adults.  Most days you can now find her hanging upside down in the aerial yoga studio and teaching kids and adults to do the same. Megan is certified in not only kids yoga and aerial yoga, but is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) – 200 Hour and a Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher (RPYT).

Kollyndi Jill Rutledge — Tumbling, Ballet & Tap Instructor

Kollyndi has always worked with children as an assistant in her mom’s dance studio in the evenings and as a Social Worker advocating for children during the day. She has a master’s degree from A&M university. She started dance at the age of two in her mom’s studio, and at the age of twelve she began assisting her mom in dance and tumbling classes. She loves helping children discover a love of movement and be part of our dance studio family.

Kayla Schaeffer — Ballet Instructor

Kayla has trained in ballet since she was six years old. She fell in love with performing and continued to pursue dance while attending a university in Utah. Kayla trained and performed modern dance in several settings before returning to Texas. Kayla took a break from dance when she got married and had a baby, but continued to share her passion of the art of dance with her daughter.
Kayla then got back into ballet, attended classes at TYBC, and taught the younger classes. Kayla has continued to teach ballet and has trained in other aerobic exercises. She loves sharing her passion and joy of dance with others and taking any opportunities to perform and choreograph.

Mme Suzelle Poole choreographed a ballet on pointe that Kayla performed in Christmas Impression in 2021. And, Kayla also choreographed her own modern dance piece. Kayla continues to learn and grow through dance while pursuing a degree in psychology and neuroscience.

Bethany Battle — Tap & Aerial Instructor

Jami Williams — Ballet & Aerial Instructor

Jami Williams took her first dance class when she was just 2 years of age and continued dancing through her college years and into adulthood with many wonderful opportunities to learn, grow and share the gift of dance along the way. Jami’s foundation for dance movement was established at Northwest Florida Ballet Company in 1994 where she trained and performed with the dance company during her elementary years. Jami went on to dance competitively during middle school and high school in various forms of dance including classical ballet, lyrical and jazz. In 2002 Jami began instructing dance classes for children at church and eventually began a dance program offering ballet and creative movement classes and performance opportunities in the community. Through the years, Jami has embraced a creative form of worship through the art of dance movement. Jami finds great joy in celebrating what God has created and sharing how He faithfully pursues our hearts by bringing Him glory through dance.

After moving to Grayson County and enjoying adult exercise classes with Ms. Irina at Lift, Jami decided to slip on those ballet shoes and take the stage once again after being at home focused on caring for her children for 10 years. Jami currently teaches ballet and lyrical classes as her specialty at Lift.  After watching her own school-aged children enjoy aerial fitness classes at Lift, Jami gave the silks a spin and began training to teach and is very excited to be working in this creative capacity as well now. Jami believes aerial silks are a wonderful way to explore creativity and enjoy the gift of movement while building strong and healthy bodies and minds.

Jami studied at the University of West Florida and completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology to go along with her passion for connecting with others in meaningful ways and encouraging them along their uniquely designed pathway of life. Spending time with her husband and children, especially a day of roller coaster fun or a trip to visit family at the beach in Florida are two favorite activities of enjoyment. Having lived in North Texas for 8 years now, Jami appreciates calling such a fine state home.

Jami is delighted to be a part of the teaching team at Lift!