Albany Berkshire Ballet is proud to announce that Founder and Artistic Director Madeline Cantarella Culpo has been selected to receive the LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD at the 2nd Annual Berkshire Nonprofit Awards, on May 21 at Berkshire Hills Country Club in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
“This is a well-deserved honor for a teacher and artist who has so dramatically impacted thousands of young people, myself included,” said Alison LaRocca, Board President of Albany Berkshire Ballet. “Her nurturing approach has changed countless lives, elevated generations of dancers, and brought a warmth and humanity to the practice of ballet that has resonated powerfully through whole communities.”
The Berkshire Nonprofit Awards are presented by the Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires, in conjunction with media partner The Berkshire Eagle. The awards breakfast on May 21, at 8A.M. at Berkshire Hills Country Club is sponsored by Berkshire Bank, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Lee Bank, October Mountain Financial Advisers & Triplex Cinemas; State Representative William “Smitty Pignatelli” will emcee the event, with a welcome speech by WAM Theatre founder Kristen van Ginhoven.
Madeline Cantarella Culpo is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Albany Berkshire Ballet, now in its 50th year as a nonprofit professional ballet company, as well as the Cantarella School of Dance (est. 1955) in Pittsfield, MA and the School of the Albany Berkshire Ballet (est 1989) in Albany, NY. With incorporation of the company as the Berkshire Civic Ballet in 1969, Madeline became one of the first female Artistic Directors of any regional ballet or performing arts company in the country, as well as one of the youngest, and is now one of the longest-serving Artistic Directors in the world today.
Having performed onstage since the age of 4, she studied at Jacob’s Pillow (where she later taught and served on the Board) with Margaret Craske at age 16, then attended the Juilliard School in NYC as part of its inaugural class. In 1955, at the age of 21, she founded the first dedicated dance school in Pittsfield, and continues to instruct youth there and at her Albany school weekly. She is a nationally recognized dance teacher, having taught throughout the United States; A recipient of three choreography fellowships from the NEA; she has choreographed many of the works in ABB’s extensive repertoire, including The Rockwell Suites, Nutcracker, and Mushabiuyyah.
Albany Berkshire Ballet has presented the finest in classical and contemporary ballet for audiences around the Northeast for over 50 years, and its two associated dance schools, Cantarella School of Dance and School of the Albany Berkshire Ballet serve a combined 300-400 students per year, and more than 10,000 over the course of the years. Hundreds more youth across the northeast perform alongside professional dancers in ABB’s Nutcracker tour, performed annually since 1974. Alumnae have gone on to perform with many major American ballet companies, such as American Ballet Theater, Boston Ballet, and Joffrey Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, and many others.
Artistically, ABB has been nationally recognized for its versatility and excellence, and celebrated for its efforts to promote the work of diverse choreographers and initiate new repertory. It has also provided a robust program of outreach and education about ballet for over 45 years, with extensive programs in schools (over 3500 served in 2018) and participation in community events throughout western Mass and parts of New York and Vermont.