Dancer hopes to grace Radio City Music Hall stage – The Rider News


By Amethyst Martinez

Marissa Stellato’s biggest fear is not being enough for the world. But it is far from being the case.

Stellato grew up in Nyack, New York, on the outskirts of Manhattan. Born to a music teacher mother and an urban planner father, she had two older brothers making her the youngest and only daughter. She had a relatively simple childhood with everything she needed always available.

When she was young, she went to Radio City Music Hall in New York, home of the Rockettes, where she and her family saw the band perform. A stranger approached her afterwards and asked her if she wanted to be a Rockette one day.

“I said very enthusiastically, ‘yes,'” Stellato said.

This was the start of her greatest passion in life: dancing. From the age of 4, Stellato was enrolled in dance lessons.

She always knew she wanted to dance. As a child, she walked around the house, dancing until her feet hurt. It was for the artist to find his medium. Her grandmother was also a dancer, which encouraged her mother to enroll her in dance lessons whenever she could.

Stellato never questioned her dance background, except once in middle school when her parents made her choose between dancing and basketball. “Who knows if I chose basketball,” Stellato said with a chuckle.

Going into high school, she had a constant feeling that she was different from most girls her age. At 16, she came out as bisexual, but now identifies as a lesbian.

During one of her after-school dance practices, a girl was sitting on the sidelines visiting another friend from the dance program. She caught Stellato’s attention. “I kept making eyes, and she kept making eyes at me,” Stellato said. Over the next few weeks, the girl appeared at all of her practices. Stellato was in love without even knowing the girl’s name.

They were both interested in each other and she ended up being Stellato’s first love. This relationship instilled Stellato’s greatest fear: never being enough.

She hid the relationship from her parents, so they rarely saw each other. Stellato and his girlfriend were caught kissing by her father one day, which led to her being revealed to her entire family.

“It was like I walked out, and the next day my mom was like, ‘You’re not allowed to see her,'” Stellato said of looking back at the relationship. “They honestly thought it was a phase.”

She claimed she broke up with her girlfriend.

They kept their relationship a secret for almost two months. Stellato quipped, “Well, technically we’re on hiatus. We never officially broke up.

While Stellato was in high school, she decided to pursue a career in dance.

She never looked back.

“Dancing was the only thing that made me happy,” Stellato said. She is now attending Rider in second grade to study dance.

Lindsay Sherman, a second-year elementary education student, is Stellato’s dorm roommate.

Sherman said: “I really hope to see [Stellato] on Broadway one day, or maybe as a Rockette…. I know [Stellato] really wants to continue dancing, and I really believe in them and I think they could go a long way.

Through a Rider organization called “We Are Queens,” which helps dance students meet people with similar interests, Stellato was able to connect with his now mentor, Laura Jakowenko, a Rockette.

Becoming a Rockette has always been her career goal, and that hasn’t changed. She braided a keychain in the colors of the lesbian flag while talking about her hopes and dreams of one day taking the stage at Radio City Music Hall. The stage is Stellato Square, New York in front of an audience that knows his name.

Stellato was enough for the world; she didn’t know it yet.


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