Monterey County Dance Foundation President Teri Storelli (left) hands a scholarship certificate to dance student Ashley Madrid before her trip to Washington, D.C., to begin training at the Kirov Academy. (Sean Roney/Staff)

KING CITY — King City student Ashley Madrid left last Saturday to begin her yearlong studies at the Kirov Academy of Washington, D.C., in order to pursue the art of ballet.

Monterey County Dance Foundation awarded Madrid a $3,000 scholarship that has made it possible for her to secure a deposit to attend the school, but she still needs to raise the rest of an estimated $40,000 to pay for her tuition.

Madrid, 15, also qualified for financial aid and a work-study program.

“She’ll actually be working at the school and pulling some of her own weight, but the remaining tuition is still pretty steep,” said Teri Storelli, the foundation president.

Storelli noted the tuition covers not only the classes, but also boarding while in D.C. and training for both ballet and piano.

After arriving over the weekend on the East Coast, Madrid met with international students for orientation day on Monday.

“It’s one of the most prestigious schools in the world,” Storelli said about Kirov and its international draw of top ballet students. “It’s the Harvard of ballet schools.”

Madrid said she was excited but also nervous, as she has never been away for an entire year. In the past, she has spent summers away from her family and town in summer intensives, typically six weeks of ballet training.

“It’s going to be fun and hard work,” Madrid said. “Eight hours a day of dance and school at the same time and work. I’m very fortunate. I think that through the summer intensives that I’ve taken, it’s prepared me for the outside world.”

Madrid, who has been dancing since she was 3 years old, also is a concert pianist and speaks multiple languages, including Russian, Spanish and English.

“She’s definitely mature beyond her years,” Storelli said. “When she started dancing, most kids only take one dance class, but she begged to take two dance classes. She’s always had an insatiable need to dance and to grow her craft.”

Monterey County Dance Foundation raises money to assist local dancers, particularly those participating in the programs hosted by the Monterey County Dance Theatre in King City.

The foundation covers the costs for two annual productions, “The Nutcracker Ballet” and a spring show, so students don’t have to pay to participate, which is what typically happens in other cities.

“In our community, that would exclude a lot of dancers, so what the foundation was formed to do was cover those costs,” Storelli said.

Madrid’s GoFundMe is titled, “Talented Ballerina Needs Your Support,” and can be found at

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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