The Rarest Ballerina: The Story of Donna Russo and Her Dance

May 22, 2016

 by Choreographer/Director Tam Warner and Donna Russo.

I was born with Turner Syndrome.  Some women with Turner’s have a very short stature, “U” shaped kidneys and can even have heart problems.  I was fortunate enough to only have the height issue. I am 4’3”.

You can read more on Turner Syndrome  by visiting the web site at  Because information about TS was scarce when I was a child, I was not diagnosed until I was ten years old.   It was at this time, though small, I started dance classes beginning with ballet, tap and acrobatics.  As I got older I added jazz, modern dance and acting.  I have a BA from Mercyhurst University.

At age 14, I went to an audition for the Pennsylvania Ballet and was told I was too small to audition.  It became apparent that no matter my ability I would be considered too small for ballet and for most dance jobs. Though it was devastating  I persevered and in time I found a niche for myself as dancing characters onstage and in television and film.  I also joined a modern dance company.

In my late forties I was diagnosed with FSH muscular dystrophy, which slowly robs your muscles of strength yet, I am a dancer still. I recently began taking a wheelchair dance class with Infinite Flow Dance.  One way or another I will dance.

In 2014 Director/Choreographer Tam Warner created a dance piece on me which we then had filmed.  It has now received  over 51,000 views on youtube. See my story in the video below:

We are hoping to continue to present this valuable message to all people with challenges. This can apply to anyone as life brings issues to one and all.  Because of our success Tam and I have been inspired to create a new dance piece that expands the horizon for others as we plan to include dancers of all ages and abilities, both disabled and able bodied.  By using the skills and abilities that  each dancer brings to the table we want to create a second video that combines these abilities and becomes something of great beauty.

Funding is essential in order to make this happen.  Our next goal is finding a way to do this so that we may inspire others to follow their dreams.

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