Our Team


The NIKA INTERNATIONAL ACADEMY  was founded in 1976 in Penza, Russia by professional dancer and choreographer Elena Zakharova. Starting as a youth dance program it has since developed into a prestigious and international dance school.  2004 was a big year for NIKA as studios in the United States adopted their program, launching their dancers into national and world competitions leading them to impressive results of US National finalists and champions, as well as World Open finalists! Since then, several of the original NIKA students have become successful professional ballroom and latin coaches and adjudicators in the United States, Russia and other countries, as well as performers and choreographers for popular TV shows such as “Dancing with the Stars” in the US and Russia, “America’s Got Talent”, “Oprah” and more. 

The NIKA alumni include… 

  • Natalia Kuzieva (Kherson, Ukraine)- International adjudicator, coach and competition organizer 
  • Alexander Muratov and Kseniya Putko (Russia)- Norway and Dutch Open champions. Kseniya is also a professional dancer on “Dancing with the Stars” Russia
  • Alexander Muratov and Elena Markelova (Russia)- Russian Open champions
  • Pavel Balykin and Maria Gershenovich (Russia and USA)- multiple US National champions and finalists. Pavel is also World Pro/Am Ballroom Champion
  • Stepan and Olga Pogorelsky (Samara, Russia)- Russian National Professional Ballroom finalists, coaches, adjudicators and competition organizers
  • Nathan Murstein and Polina Dickenson (Seattle, Washington- USA)- multiple US National champions and two time Blackpool Junior festival semi-finalists
  • Gabriel White and Lyubov Morgan (Seattle, Washington, USA) - 2015 US National representatives to the World Pre-teen Championships
  • Scott Nicholson and Evgeniya Gorobets (Seattle, Washington, USA) - 2014 US National representatives to the World under 21 10-dance Championships
  • Yegor Novikov and Ekaterina Zakharoff (Russia and USA)- US National finalists, US/UK/British Open RS Professional finalists. Ekaterina is also a choreographer and coach, her routines have been showcased on TV’s “Dancing with the Stars” and “America’s Got Talent”
  • Sergey Nekrasov (Russia and USA)- World Pro/Am Show dance champion with student Nina Nikolova 

Although we are oriented a lot towards competition and enjoy seeing our students progressing quickly nationally and internationally, we are also glad to offer all kinds of social programs for your personal enrichment. Whether you are having an upcoming wedding, anniversary, going on a cruise, or just want to dance for everyday exercise purposes, you can trust our teachers' experience. You can purchase a gift certificate for any number of lessons to give to your friends and family. Our directors Elena and Ekaterina Zakharov are available for guest coaching for competitive couples. Ekaterina is also available for an online consultation.  Our Academy is located in the heart of Bellevue, between the downtown and the Crossroads, at 13635 NE 8th St. 

We offer...

  • Group classes for beginning children ages 3-5,  6-9 and 10-14
  • Syllabus competitive classes for children age 7-14
  • Championship level classes for children age 10-14, youth and adults
  • Our weekly supervised competition rounds open to all competitive dancers on one of the largest floors in the area. Please refer to our schedule page for more information
  • Social dance courses for adults
  • A wide  range of private lessons for any age, level and occacion

Elena & Ekaterina Zakharoff

Elena is a dance teacher and competition adjudicator since 1976. Currently specializing in  high level competitive Ballroom for all ages as well as young dancers development. She was a member of The Board of Chairmen of Russian DanceSport Federation in 2000-2006 and the organizer/co-organizer of many competitions including Russian National Championships in 1995 and 1997. She coaches multiple Russian, US and European champions and finalists, who she has trained since their very first steps in Ballroom dancing. Elena is only coaching active competitors and young pre-ballroom dancers.   

Ekaterina has been a Latin dance teacher since 1994. She has had an extensive competitive career, participating in over 1,000 competitions world-wide in the span of 25 years. Ekaterina is a US National, US, UK and British Open Professional Rising Star finalist, as well as a World Cup professional Latin finalist. She retired at the top of her competitive career placing 22nd among all the Professional Latin dancers in the World Ranking list. Ekaterina has choreographed several performances on TV shows "Dancing with the Stars" and "America's Got Talent". She has published articles for magazines, such as “Dance Beat”. Ekaterina is only coaching active competitors and also offers an online consultation. 

All teachers and coaches introduced on this page are working independently in studios throughout our region. All of them grew up as dancers at NIKA Academy to become Nationally and Internationally recognized performers and coaches to successful dancers, and as their coaches we are proud of their success and desire to pursue a future Professional career in dance. We are confident you will get the highest level of instruction. To schedule your lessons, you can either contact them independently or you can contact NIKA Academy for other methods of contact.   

Alina Odintsova - Nicholson

Alina was trained to become professional dancer since the age of 5 months. Her father Dmitrii is one of the top Latin dance coaches in Russian Federal Volga region for the past 25 years, her mother Elena is a professional dancer and gymnast and is a choreographer in on of the leading Russian rhythmic gymnastic schools.

Alina was invited to represent NIKA Academy at the competitions in the US and all over the world in 2016, as an Internationally recognized athlete and together with her partner, they quickly became one of the top United States couples in Latin in  "Under 21"  division. In 2018 Alina started dancing with Scott Nicholson and later that year they have become husband and wife. Alina is available for lessons and classes in Latin, Ballroom, Ballet, Dance conditioning for ages 3+, teens, adults and seniors and can be contacted via email HERE

Michael Levenkov

Michael started his dance education at the age of 8 and currently is one of the Professional competitors in our region. In 2018 Michael with his partner placed 10th at the US National Championships in Provo, UT. Although trained in all 10 international style dances, Michael specializes in Ballroom program. In addition to his extensive dance career Michael is a student at UW. Michael is available for private lessons for children and youth. Michael can be contacted via email  HERE

Scott Nicholson

Scott began his ballroom dancing career in Portland, Oregon. In 2012, he partnered with a dancer from Bellevue, Washington and started traveling up north every weekend for lessons and practice. In 2013 he joined NIKA Academy, and one year later moved to the Seattle area to pursue his career as a competitive dancer and ballroom/latin coach.   Scott and his partner quickly became one of the most successful couples in the Northwest, placing in finals of most West Coast competitions.   Scott started teaching in 2013 and has already had great success with his students, winning top places at competitions around the US, such as the Emerald Ball and the Embassy Championships in California. Scott is competing in Adult division with his wife Alina.  Scott is available for private lessons for children and adults and can be contacted via email HERE