In June of 2015, Ballet East (under the direction of Chelsea Nasby) student Madison Russo, attended the Indianapolis International Ballet Competition in Indianapolis, Indiana. At this 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 this visit, Russo was offered a full merit scholarship to attend the Houston Ballet Academy in the fall.

Acceptance of this incredible offer, meant moving away from family and friends 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”, states Madison. “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 Madison has performed alongside the main company, participated in Houston Ballet public relations events and appeared on the cover of Leapin Leotards 2017 catalog. 

In January of 2017, Russo was approached by Houston Ballet Academy to represent the school at the prestigious Jacob’s Pillow Festival to be held this summer in Becket, Massachusetts. Upon auditioning via video submission, Madison was one of twenty-two ballet dancers chosen worldwide to participate, and in addition, 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 the Pillow.

Additionally, in February of 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 5th largest ballet company. Russo’s debut performance with Houston Ballet II hits the stage September 22 – 24, 2017 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,” says Miss Russo. “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 is now accepting students as young as 2.5 years – Pre-Professional for the 2017/2018 Season. Please contact Ballet East to inquire how to sign up your aspiring dancer. Inquires accepted at 561.683.0096,,

Photos © Brooke Trisolini, taken at Jacob's Pillow, Becket, MA.