Madison Sugg has been dancing ballet for almost two decades, having begun at age 2.
The years of training have paid off as Sugg, now 21, has joined the Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) as a member of the corps de ballet.
“I love PNB. I don’t see myself anywhere else,” the Gig Harbor native said.
The corps de ballet are permanent dancers with a ballet company who are not soloists, but work as a group to provide a backdrop for the production.
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Sugg began her training in Gig Harbor, moving between different studios through grade school while she explored other dance forms and various sports.
“I always went back to ballet,” she said.
When Sugg was 11, a favorite teacher at Harbor Conservatory, Joyce Hurley, recommended a move to Tacoma City Ballet.
“I trusted my teacher and she said I had potential,” said Sugg, adding that the move across the bridge was daunting. “It was pretty intense,” she said of the strictly ballet studio.
In the summer of 2011, she got her first taste of professional ballet life after attending a four-week summer training course with the American Ballet Theater in New York City before her senior year of high school.
That summer she also participated in an open class with the PNB School, where she was encouraged to audition for the school’s year-round program.
“At this point it was either college or ballet. I figured, why not give it a shot?” Sugg said.
Sugg’s mother, Jolene, agreed to drive her up to Seattle for training every day after school.
“She was all on board,” Sugg said.
It was the following spring, April 2012, before she received any feedback from her instructors.
“I didn’t know what they were thinking. I had accepted admission to the University of Washington until I could find out,” she said.
The conversation began immediately with her moving to the PNB School’s professional Division, designed to prepare students to be professional dancers. Sugg deferred her UW admission for a chance at a career in ballet.
Through this program she also received the chance to train internationally, unique for most students. Sugg left in September 2013 for Dresden to study and perform for a five-week an exchange program between the PNB School and Palucca University of Dance.
In Dresden, she also had the opportunity to rehearse and perform with the Dresden Semperoper Ballett.
“It’s a really outstanding, internationally-known company. It was intense going in as a student,” Sugg said. “It was unique. It was a great experience.”
Sugg accepted an apprentice position in 2014 with Ballet West in Salt Lake City, Utah.
After a year with Ballet West, returning to Seattle, and PNB, was Sugg’s goal. She earned her most recent spot in the corps de ballet after an audition for Peter Boal, artistic director of PNB and director of the PNB School.
Returning to PNB is a dream come true for Sugg, who first fell in love with the company years ago as an audience member. But that moment falls short compared to her first performance with the company in the 2012 production of Maurice Sendak’s “Nutcracker.”
“I’d never experienced anything on that large of a scale,” she said. “I remember thinking ‘I don’t want this to stop.’ It was magical.”
Sugg’s next performance is in “Emergence,” a contemporary piece featuring four different ballets, set to run Nov. 6 to 15. Sugg will dance in three of the four pieces.