The story of the Albany Berkshire Ballet stretches back to the mid 1950s with the foundation of the Cantarella School of Dance in Pittsfield, Mass, by Artistic Director Madeline Cantarella Culpo. From this grew the Berkshire Ballet Guild in 1960, originally intended as a performance outlet for the school’s advanced students. Over the course of the decade this rapidly evolved into a professional company, and by 1969 the “Berkshire Civic Ballet” (-Later “Berkshire Ballet,” then “Albany Berkshire Ballet”) had fully emerged and established itself as a recognized 501 nonprofit and performing dance company. In 1989 the company expanded by establishing an additional studio in Albany, New York.
The Albany Berkshire Ballet is nationally recognized for its versatility in performing both classical and contemporary dance works. The company’s classical repertory rivals that of any large company performing today. With works created by some of ballet’s greatest choreographers including Igor Youskevitch, Michel Fokine, and Antony Tudor. The Albany Berkshire Ballet performs many full-length ballets, such as Giselle, Cinderella, Coppelia, The Nutcracker, and Romeo and Juliet, delighting audiences of all ages.
The Albany Berkshire Ballet is highly acclaimed for its support of newly emerging artists while working with esteemed contemporary choreographers such as Phillip Jerry, Francis Patrelle, Gus Solomons Jr., Mary Giannone Talmi, Bill T. Jones, and Paula Weber.
Alumnae have gone on to perform with many major American ballet companies, such as American Ballet Theater, Boston Ballet, and Joffrey Ballet.
In 1993, the company held the distinct honor of premiering its Rockwell Suite, choreographed by Artistic Director Madeline Cantarella Culpo, for the grand opening ceremonies of the new Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Other highlights include performances at the prestigious Riverside Dance Festival in New York, and also opened the 46th annual season at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival with its full-length production of Coppelia.
The Company has appeared in numerous First Night Celebrations in Albany, Pittsfield and Boston. In 1995, the Company’s most popular production, The Nutcracker was featured on a special presentation of ABC’s “Good Morning America”.