Founder and Director of Bodiography Contemporary Ballet and Chair of the Performing Arts Department at La Roche College, Maria Caruso is well known for her leadership as well as her choreographic strength in focusing on humanity in dance. Nominated in 2012 by Examiner.com as one of 25 finalists in the "America Inspired" contest, she continues to utilize dance as a means of expression capable of raising awareness about significant subject matter. Featured in the Carlow University Journal ("Gotta Dance: Maria Caruso," 2008) and recognized by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as a "Young Pittsburgher to Watch in 2009," Caruso has truly made an impact in her community and beyond. Acknowledged at the 2016 Future Health Technology Summit at MIT as a genius of choreography, selected as a 2016 Pittsburgh Business Times Fast Tracker, and invited to lecture at TEDxYouth Squirrel Hill in 2016, she has been a force in the cultural landscape. More recently, in 2017, she was honored as a Squirrel Hill Treasure for her leadership, promotion of inclusivity in dance, and mentorship of aspiring young dancers.
A native to the city, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in performing arts and dance from Florida State University at age nineteen and shortly after earned a Master of Science Degree in Professional Leadership with an emphasis on management for non-profit organizations from Carlow University. Throughout the years, she has had the great opportunity to study and perform with numerous choreographers and renowned companies and has had an active performance career with Bodiography since its inception.
Her teaching career began in Florida where she took part in the development of dance curriculum in the Florida public schools while directing a ballet/modern program at a leading academy in South Georgia. Upon moving back to New York City, she became a teacher at Ballet Academy East and began laying the foundation of her company. The concept of a ballet company that encouraged numerous body types began when Ms. Caruso grew weary of the body conflicts of the ballet world. Her experiences inspired her to find success in a professional career that would allow dancers to eliminate this problem. She believed that the technique and artistry of the art form was the most important aspect rather than how well the body molds itself to the ensemble. With this in mind, Bodiography was born and contemporary ballet was adopted as a style that would diverge from the classical ballet.
As Caruso's movement developed into its own distinctive style, she moved towards codifying it as a language. In 2011, Bodiography was trademarked as a movement vocabulary and it formed the basis of Caruso's unique research-based choreographic process. This process has played a significant role in the development of her full-length ballets and has provided her with a platform for artistic philanthropic endeavors and a voice as a social activist. Her passion for athleticism within the confines of dance further defined her now successful Bodiography® Fitness and Strength Training Program, a mat-based fitness format that is expanding across the United States. Following the success of her fitness program, she furthered the development of her choreographic process through the creation of a dance therapy program titled Bodiography® Dance Movement Therapy System. This system outlines a distinct class that supports physiological, psychological, and emotional breakthroughs for a variety of populations in need of assistance in finding balance in such realms. With the success of her artistic, fitness, and dance movement therapy endeavors leading the organization in its growth, Caruso was fortunate to have the opportunity to lead the performing arts department at La Roche College. There she fulfilled her passion for education through the growth and restructuring of the dance program where she is able to offer young artists the opportunity to earn college credit in high school for coursework in dance studies through the partnership between Bodiography Center for Movement and La Roche College. The uniqueness of unifying her work at La Roche, professional dance company, fitness program, community outreach, and independent dance conservatory and programming led to the 2013 expansion of her home studios in Squirrel Hill.
To date, Caruso's choreography and ballets have been well received throughout the United States and continue to receive immense acclaim with every passing performance. She has choreographed numerous ballets for the company's repertoire and has been commissioned to produce works for Mercyhurst University, Warped Dance Company, Winthrop University, Northwest School for the Arts, the Charlotte Dance Festival Repertory Ensemble, Westmoreland Choral Society, Fallingwater's 70th Anniversary Celebration, Fluidity Dance Company, Laurel Youth Ballet, brooks and company dance, Off Broad Street Center for Dance Arts, North Allegheny High School, Butler Community College, The Garrett Lakes Arts Festival, The Dollar Bank Three River's Arts Festival, the Frick Art Museum, and the Elsie Awards honoring director Rob Marshall. In addition to her choreography, she is proud to have commissioned original works for Bodiography's extensive repertoire from such distinguished choreographers as Johann Renvall, Ze'eva Cohen, Anjali Austin, James Martin, Ilana Suprun Clyde, and Lynne Taylor-Corbett. Ms. Caruso has had the great opportunity to showcase Bodiography Contemporary Ballet and her solo work by touring through New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Florida, South Carolina, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Colorado, Georgia, as well as Israel and England where she has presented her work and engaged in many outreach programs and lecture demonstrations. She has conducted master classes and lectures at University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Point Park University, Slippery Rock University, McDaniel College, Mercyhurst University, University of Pittsburgh, West Virginia University, Desayles University, Elon University, Duquesne University, the Boston Conservatory, MIT, The Charlotte Dance Festival, Caroline Calouche and Company, and the University of Salford in the UK. She has designed movement programs for The Yeshiva Girls School of Pittsburgh, Shaler Area School District, Carnegie Mellon University's Cyert Center, and Community Day School. Her catalog of over 100 full-length works is now beginning to be celebrated by companies and educational institutions across the country.
Every day, Caruso is excited to watch the growth of her multi-genre conservatory Bodiography Center For Movement where Caruso prepares young aspiring artists for collegiate and professional careers in dance. Her graduates continue to flourish in the top university dance programs and dance companies across the country. Additionally, she is proud to watch her college graduates thrive in prominent dance companies, and she is thrilled to watch the development and growth of her company artists and faculty.