A native of Athens, Greece, Ms. Lyras received her training at the School of American Ballet under the guidance of Alexandra Danilova, Felia Doubrovska, Helene Dudin, Andrei Kramarevsky, Richard Rapp, Elise Reiman, Suki Schorer, Muriel Stuart, Antonina Tumkovsky and Stanley Williams. While studying at the School of American Ballet from 1967-1976, she performed numerous roles with the New York City Ballet.
At age 17, Barbara Weisberger selected her for the Pennsylvania Ballet where she rose through the ranks to soloist and principal dancer. During her association with the Pennsylvania Ballet, Ms. Lyras danced principal roles in the Balanchine repertoire: Stars and Stripes, Donizetti Variations, Divertimento No. 15, Western Symphony, Who Cares?, and Tarantella, in Benjamin Harkarvy’s Time Passed Summer, Madrigalesco and Grand Pas Espagnol, John Butler’s Carmina Burana, The Woman In His Past in Antony Tudor’s Jardin Aux Lilas, Emilia in Jose Limon’s The Moor’s Pavane, Paul Taylor’s Arden Court, Swanilda in Coppélia and created roles in Peter Anastos’ Domino, Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s Ordinary Rhythms, and Dane LaFontsee’s Underlight. Ms. Lyras also danced the roles of Snow Queen and Dew Drop in the Pennsylvania Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker.
She performed on many occasions with Edward Villella and Dancers, dancing Odette in Balanchine’s Swan Lake Act II and the Stars and Stripes pas de deux partnered by Mr. Villella. During her career, she toured and performed as a freelance guest artist and master teacher throughout the United States. For the 1994-95 season, Ms. Lyras was a principal dancer with American Repertory Ballet. In 1996, she joined the professional staff of Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers in New York City where she directed the ballet program exclusively created for figure skaters. She later founded “Lyrical Designs,” her company that designs and executes competitive skating dresses, tutus, ballet costumes and headpieces.
Ms. Lyras started the Indianapolis School of Ballet in August 2006. Since opening, the Indianapolis School of Ballet has performed 13 seasons of repertoire choreographed or staged by Ms. Lyras. The school’s distinguished production of The Nutcracker features the magnificent Victorian parlor from the Historic Morris-Butler House Museum in Indianapolis for its Act I Party Scene setting, Robert Rodham’s Snow Scene and has included the “Grand Pas de Deux” from Mr. Balanchine’s production of The Nutcracker.
In May 2017, Lyras joined the ISB’s Board of Directors in announcing the launch of Indianapolis Ballet, the first professional resident ballet company based in Indiana’s capital city in over a decade. After conducting auditions for its company, apprentice program, and Professional Level Program across the last half of 2017, the full company began rehearsals in early January 2018 and marked its main-stage debut that February with three sold-out performances of The Firebird at The Toby at Newfields. Last April’s sold-out production of Swan Lake concluded IB’s first full artistic season, notching yet another milestone for this timeless art form in the Circle City.
Ms. Lyras has taught the ballet majors at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music as Adjunct Lecturer with Michael Vernon, Chair – Ballet Department and the late Violette Verdy, Distinguished Professor of Music (Ballet). She also teaches company class for Dance Kaleidoscope. Ms. Lyras was a 2015 Creative Renewal Fellow through the generous support of the Arts Council of Indianapolis. In May 2018, Lyras was named the recipient of the 15th Annual Starkey Entrepreneurial Woman Award, which recognizes Indiana businesswomen who display courage, tenacity, selflessness, and determination as they establish their organizations in the Hoosier State.