Former Ballet East dancer Madison Russo has soared to new heights with the Houston Ballet organization.
In June 2015, Russo, under the direction of Chelsea Nasby, attended the Indianapolis International Ballet Competition in Indiana. At the event, she was awarded the Jury Award for Contemporary, and was approached by the former director of the Houston Ballet Academy, Shelly Power, who extended an invitation for her to visit their training facility. During the visit, Russo was offered a full merit scholarship to attend the Houston Ballet Academy.
Acceptance of this incredible offer meant moving away from family and friends in South Florida to train at Houston Ballet’s $46.6 million Center for Dance.
“Moving away from home at 15 was much harder than I thought it would be. I missed my friends and especially my mom and dad when times were tough,” Russo said. “I just kept telling myself it was going to be worth it.”
After six months, Russo was promoted to trainee with Houston Ballet II, the second company to Houston Ballet.
Over the last year, she has performed alongside the main company, participated in Houston Ballet public relations events and appeared on the cover of the Leapin Leotards 2017 catalog.
In January 2017, Russo was asked by the Houston Ballet Academy to represent the school at the prestigious Jacob’s Pillow Festival to be held this summer in Becket, Mass. Upon auditioning via video submission, she was one of 22 ballet dancers chosen worldwide to participate. In addition, she was granted a scholarship.
Jacob’s Pillow was founded by dance pioneer Ted Shawn and has trained many of the world’s most distinguished dance artists. Located on 220 acres, Jacob’s Pillow is a National Historic Landmark. While there, Russo premiered a new work by choreographer Bruce Wells and participated alongside nationally acclaimed companies celebrating the 85th anniversary of Jacob’s Pillow.
Additionally, in February 2017, perseverance and dedication landed Russo with a full contract to Houston Ballet II for next season. Being a contracted employee will entail more company participation, touring and community performances. Excited for the future, Russo stays focused on one day receiving a contract with Houston Ballet, America’s fifth-largest ballet company. Russo’s debut performance with Houston Ballet II hit the stage Sept. 22-24 in the production of ballet legend Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s Mayerling.
“The Houston Ballet, being such a diverse company with both its repertory and its dancers, is a place I dream of being one day,” Russo said. “I am incredibly thankful for the support of my family, and especially the wonderful training I received while at Ballet East. I know I would not be where I am today without them!”
Ballet East, formally Susan Lyle Studios, has been a professional dance training institution for the past 47 years.
Director Chelsea Nasby and her international faculty offer the highest quality of dance training to prepare children for professional opportunities. Students selected to join the program at Ballet East are trained thoroughly in technical ballet classes on a daily basis.
Ballet East is now accepting students as young as 2.5 years through pre-professional for the 2017-18 season. For more information, contact Ballet East at (561) 683-0096 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.balleteastfl.com.