She began her professional career at the age of sixteen with the Nashville Ballet. Most recently, Ms. Hakala was a principal dancer with Ballet West where she performed the title roles in many ballets such as Sleeping Beauty, Amedeo Amodio’s Carmen, Birgit Cullberg’s Miss Julie, Ronald Hynd’s Rosalinda and Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella, as well as a full range of contemporary, classical and neoclassical works.
Her experience includes the work of acclaimed choreographers such as George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, Paul Taylor, Choo-san Goh, Hans Van Manen and Jerome Robbins, to name a few. She has performed internationally in China and Europe including appearances in the 2004 Edinburgh International Festival. She also performed as the Sugar Plum Fairy in a nationally televised broadcast on PBS.
Ms. Hakala is also a certified yoga teacher, a practice she finds particularly complementary to the demands of ballet training. She has taught for places such as Ballet West and Ballet West Conservatory, and Michigan Ballet Theatre, in addition to teaching national master classes. From 2005 to 2007, she taught as an adjunct professor at Wright State University and as a faculty member of Pontecorvo Ballet School/Gem City Ballet. From 2008 to 2011, she served on the faculty of the Indianapolis School of Ballet and the Central Indiana Academy of Dance.
Her husband, Tong Wang, is currently serving as Assistant Professor of Dance at University California, Irvine.