Mariaelena began her studies in Caracas, Venezuela; where she was trained and coached by Prima Ballerina of Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, Nina Novak.
At age 14, Mariaelena became the youngest member of the Ballet Nacional de Caracas, under the direction of Vicente Nebrada. Soon after, she won 3rd place Junior Division at the Jackson USA International Ballet Competition and received a full scholarship to continue her studies at the School of American Ballet in New York. She won the Best Couple award and 3rd Place Senior Division at the Varna International Ballet Competition and also won at the Prix Volinine in Paris.
Over the next seven years, Mariaelena performed principal roles at Bay Ballet Theater, Cleveland San Jose Ballet, and Ballet Hispanico; and as a guest artist for many other companies in the US and Europe. Between 2000 to 2006 Mariaelena danced an all Balanchine repertoire in the Suzanne Farrell Ballet at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
In 2000 she began teaching part-time at The Rock School for Dance Education and became full-time Ballet Master at The Rock School in 2006. In 2015 she started building and directing her new Professional Training Program at Cary Ballet Conservatory (CBC) where she continues to coach and train the next generation of outstanding dancers. During her time as director, the CBC was awarded the Outstanding School Award YAGP and ADC. In April of the same year, Mariaelena was featured in the cover of Dance Teacher Magazine with a featured story titled: “Mariaelena Ruiz works her magic at Cary Ballet Conservatory.”
Mariaelena has been a judge and guest teacher for YAGP and has also worked with the New York International Ballet Competition. She was featured in the award-winning documentary First Position and in the WHYY Philadelphia documentary made about the first Curtis Institute of Music and Rock School Collaboration in 2009. In 2016 Mariaelena was named outstanding teacher at the ADC International Ballet Competition and was a judge at the Danzamérica Competition in Villa Carlos Paz, Argentina.
She has coached medalists for major competitions including Moscow IBC, Jackson USA IBC, Boston IBC, Prix de Lausanne, Youth America Grand Prix, and American Dance Competition. Her former students are dancing professionally all over the world in companies such as National Ballet of Canada, American Ballet Theater, Het National Ballet, Sutch National Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Charlotte Ballet, Washington Ballet, New York City Ballet, Houston Ballet, Ballet West, and on Broadway.
Mariaelena is now looking forward to even greater success as a teacher and coach. Her most recent award was the 2019 YAGP NYC Finals Outstanding Teacher Award.
“The more we work, the bigger the reward. When people like Mariaelena Ruiz bring that work ethic to the professional world, there is no stopping them.”
Karen Hildebran, Editor in Chief – Dance Teacher Magazine