Madeleine Gardella

Madeleine dancing a variation from
Coppélia, Act 1 (I. Siggul/Visual Arts Masters)

With perfectly arched feet and a petite frame, 14-year-old Madeleine Gardella looks like a jewelry box ballerina. She stands just 4 feet 11 inches tall, but exudes the confidence and maturity of a seasoned professional. Her port de bras is unmannered; her musical phrasing is both crisp and lilting. “Most people think ballet is exacting,” says Madeleine. “But there’s so much artistry. I’m enjoying that part of it.”

Her love of dance started in preschool, when a friend asked her to join a tap/jazz/ballet class. “It snowballed from there,” Madeleine says. She studied at The Dance Academy, a competition studio in Holland, PA, until she decided—at 12 years old—to focus on ballet. “Not that jazz and contemporary weren’t exciting,” she says. “It’s just that ballet was the most fun for me.”

Madeleine had previously tried The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia for a summer (“I loved ballet even more after that!”) and later stayed for the year-round program. By age 13 she was dancing full-time and getting her education online via the 21st Century Cyber Charter School. Unlike many of her friends who board at The Rock, Madeleine lives with her family outside the city. Her mom drives her to classes every day.

Though she spends most of her time in Philly, Madeleine has starred as Clara in NYC’s Radio City Christmas Spectacular. She also recently worked on the Broadway workshop of Little Dancer (alongside New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck!) with Susan Stroman after attending a casting call in NYC. She learned the entire show in 10 days—all the lines, music and choreography—and did a studio performance for investors.

As for the future, Madeleine is open to everything. She’s preparing for the Youth America Grand Prix finals in NYC (after winning first place in the Junior Age Division, Classical Dance Category in Philadelphia) and listening to Broadway tunes on Pandora internet radio. “Don’t be afraid to try new things,” she advises DS readers. “Push the boundaries a little and explore.”


Birthday: November 5, 1998

Favorite food: Indian

Who would play you in a movie? Audrey Hepburn

Dream dance roles: Kitri from Don Quixote or Swanilda from Coppélia

Favorite dancers of all time: Maria Kochetkova, Alina Cojocaru and Natalia Osipova

Strangest things in your dance bag: “I have these weird hair clips that look like little jellyfish. They don’t even hold my hair, but I like to keep them in there.”

Favorite dance movie: First Position

Dance BFF: Juliet Doherty (“We did Radio City together in NYC”)

Dance crush: Marcelo Gomes

Three words that describe you: “Petite, smart, comical”

Latest Posts

Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by Jamayla Burse

Catching Up With Christian Burse, Comp Kid Turned Complexions Rising Star

With her nearly limitless facility, well-timed dynamics and incredible control, Christian Burse's future as a dancer was guaranteed to be bright. A student at the renowned Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, and at Dance Industry Performing Arts Center in Plano, TX, Burse has consistently made waves: She won first runner-up for Teen Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals in 2019, received a grant for summer study at Juilliard from the Texas Young Masters program in 2020, and was named a YoungArts finalist for dance in 2021.

So, it wasn't all that surprising when Burse announced that, at just 17 years old, she would be joining Complexions Contemporary Ballet as an apprentice for the company's 2021–22 season.

Dance Spirit caught up with Burse to hear all about her first season with Complexions ahead of the contemporary ballet company's run at the Joyce Theater in NYC this month.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search