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Our History

Liv DanceArts was originally founded in 1987 as Professional Ballet School by Dutch National and San Francisco Ballet artists Carmela Peter (pictured right) and Zoltan Peter.


At the age of 12, Zoltan Peter was 1 of 10 children chosen from 5000 through a national talent search to study at the National Ballet Institute in Budapest, where he received both his academic education and Ballet training. Soon after graduation from a class which included Russian exchange student Mikhail Baryshnikov, Zoltan began performing as the Hungarian Opera Ballet’s youngest soloist.


In 1970 in pursuit of artistic freedom, Zoltan defected to Germany with his dancing partner, joining the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich. From there, in 1972, the couple joined the Dutch National Ballet as principle dancers where they performed a wide repertoire of classical roles, in addition to many works by Balanchine, and numerous original roles by resident choreographers Rudi van Dantzig, Hans van Manen, and Toer van Schayk. 


During this time Zoltan met company member and future wife Carmela Peter. In 1978, while visiting in-laws on tour with Rudolph Nureyev and members of Dutch National, Zoltan took company class with San Francisco Ballet. In immediate need of a replacement for an injured lead dancer, SFB Artistic Director Michael Smuin engaged Zoltan as guest artist for their upcoming summer tour.

After the tour Zoltan was offered a full time contract as Principal with San Francisco Ballet.  Carmela was invited to audition and was accepted as Soloist. 

The couple went on to found Professional Ballet School and Young Artists Ballet Theatre in Belmont CA where they focused on training up and coming ballet dancers on the Peninsula.

In 2010 a partnership with NYU Dance Educator Kristen Portner began a collaboration that lead to an award winning Competitive Program as well as a fully collaborative Jazz and Lyrical curriculum based on a strong Ballet foundation and focused on artistic expression and choreography. 


In 2017 Kristen stepped in as Artistic Director of the newly created Liv DanceArts, Professional Ballet School collaboration. A quality focused program based on individualized dance education. Under her direction LDA has gone on to become a highly recognized and decorated studio by multiple nationally recognized dance and dance education organizations including the National Dance Education Organization and the National Society of Dance Education.  LDA has won countless technical achievement and choreographic awards including Outstanding Studio and Choreographer of the Year, and Performers of The Year Titles throughout 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.

LDA Dancer, Julia Asher

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