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See what the local papers have to say about Melissa.
Local Girl Makes Magic On Stage
The Trumbull Times
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Most people think of magic as card tricks, white rabbits popping out of top hats and flowers appearing out of black wands. Trumbull magician Melissa Russo combines the classic magic acts of yesterday with dance routines, white doves and balloon art to create a distinctly 21st Century show.
Melissa, 12, has been performing magic for only a year but has already achieved high honors in her craft. She was the opening act on July 16 for the Society of American Magicians National Convention show, "The Stars of Tomorrow," in
Buffalo. For Melissa, the show was an amazing experience and one she'll never forget. Such an unforgettable experience took months of planning for both Melissa and her mom and manager, Michele Russo. "We
even rented the stage at the Trumbull Library because our living room did not provide enough space for Melissa," says Michele.
The path to the "Stars of Tomorrow" show was not an easy one. Throughout the school year, Melissa had to take on the task of training brand new doves for her act. The time-consuming task of bird training forced Melissa to put her homework on flashcards so the birds could learn to trust her as she fed them from the palm of her hand. It's a demanding activity, but Michele Russo says, "She just loves it so much. Although she's in demand, we always make sure she balances her time." The
dynamic of a mother-daughter team has allowed Michele to ensure Melissa has enough time to be a normal kid.
A typical manager with no relation to their client would probably say, "Sure, why not, we can do two parties in one day, but since I'm not only Melissa's manager, I'm her mom. I can make sure that she balances her performance schedule while she makes time for her friends and family as well."
The art of magic has become a passion for Melissa. "For my whole life, magic was always interesting to me, and I love going on stage and the illusions and performance aspects of it all," she says. The
production of a magic act requires not only practice and concentration but revision as well. "I
started with an act that had a spy theme and used jazz and tap dances in it," Melissa said. "When I realized that the act was not successful, I created a new act and for it I began taking hip-hop classes. My teacher helped me learn dance moves and choose music and I worked with my teacher to make a dance segment for my act."
Everything was fast-paced and exciting when Michele and Melissa arrived in Buffalo for The Society of American Magicians National Convention. "We
started setting up at 10 a.m. for "Stars of Tomorrow" and did not stop until Melissa went on at 3 pm.," says Michele. Melissa
recalled the fun she had setting up for the show. "I got the chance to meet a lot of the other performers and we were all really supportive and watched each other practice and told each other", "Oh, you'll be awesome, your show is so good," she said.
Melissa's show itself was an overwhelming success, according to Michele. "Older magicians were whispering to others as Melissa performed, Wow, who is that girl? Who is she? and it was the absolute best she has ever performed since taking up magic." While
Melissa says she loves magic and the thrill of performing, her favorite thing about her craft is being able to give back to other people. She
recalled a memorable moment, "I was practicing my balloon art as I saw a girl with special needs being pushed by in her wheel chair by her aide. She couldn't move and I felt badly, so I walked over to her and gave her the balloon I was practicing on. I saw her look toward the balloon, and then looked up at me and smile. It just warmed my heart to know that what I did made someone else happy."
Melissa continues to perform year round and is available for parties. For more information, visit her website at www.magicbymelissa.com
ABRACADABRA - Young Magician Gets Into The Act
The Connecticut Post
Monday, July 13, 2009
Summer couldn't come fast enough for 12 year old Trumbull resident and magician Melissa Russo. In fact, she's been waiting and entire year for it. That's because on Thursday she will perform at the National Convention for the Society of American Magicians in Buffalo, NY.
The show, called "The Stars of Tomorrow," features seven magicians, ages 11 through 17, chosen from hundreds of children who auditioned. The performers hail from across the country and come from as far away as England. Melissa was also given the coveted spot of opening the show. In her carefully choreographed four-minute act, she combines her love of music and dance and makes white doves appear from her top hat, feather boa and even a balloon.
Melissa is also an award-winning balloon twister and keeps busy performing and entertaining at area parties. She's looking forward to next March, when she will open the show at the New England Magicians Conference in Cromwell. There she'll set another personal first, becoming the youngest performer ever to grace their stage.
"I want to play Vegas by the time I'm 15," she says.
Spirits lifted by Trumbull girl's balloon art
By Susan Silvers
Updated: 03/28/2009 12:20:39 AM EDT
TRUMBULL -- There was plenty for Melissa Russo to lug as she swept into a local medical building last week. There was the black bag hanging from her shoulder, the pump nearly 3 feet tall. And
then, there was the sculpted palm tree. A recent creation, the palm tree, with its woven trunk and two attached monkeys, was an immediate hit as Russo, her long hair falling gently below her shoulders, arrived at the Oncology Associates of Bridgeport and passed it to a nurse. Though
she was greeted like a VIP by staff, Russo is no medical luminary with a collection of thermometers, stethoscopes or a drug sales representative toting samples. It
was because she is a 12-year-old who mesmerizes spectators by twisting balloons into all kinds of creative shapes and fantasy creatures. "It's
hard to believe a little girl can make that," said Marcia Burkitt, a nurse, as she admired the palm tree and set it down in a nearby room for the enjoyment of a half-dozen or so patients who sat beside poles that held bags of cancer-treatment drugs that dripped into their arms. Their
eyes fell on Melissa, who followed Burkitt and placed the pump, which weighs less than 3 pounds, in the center of the room. Melissa set down her bag stuffed with hundreds of balloons sorted by color and size, and quietly began to tell her audience what she could create for them.
For the next two hours, the Madison Middle School sixth-grader would captivate the rotating roster of patients with her sensitive personality and her ability to take bits of flimsy latex and turn them into little works of art -- bumblebee and ladybug bracelets, flowers, a tiger, an angel, a teddy bear -- they could show off to their loved ones afterward. "Why
did you decide to take this up?" wondered Harry Zylinski, of West Haven, explaining he was once a part-time clown who couldn't get the hang of balloon-twisting himself. Coincidentally a Sikorsky Aircraft employee like Melissa's dad, David, Zylinski said he managed to form a few simple shapes years back, but gave up when "I couldn't do the animals."
Melissa began fashioning art from balloons barely a year and a half ago, when she tagged along with her mother, Michele, a television producer working on a story about the Society of Young Magicians Bill Andrews Assembly No. 42 in Stamford. Melissa was hooked. "I gotta do this," she said. She
began attending monthly sessions with the group and then privately, with Dave Reid, a magician from Shelton she met there. He told her if she started performing at parties in the future, she should learn to twist balloons creatively as well. But
she didn't start becoming what she considers a "balloon artist" until forced by an invitation to do magic for her Middlebrook Elementary School Spring Fair. Realizing that her doves would fly away during the outdoors show, she instead got out a book and learned to make a dog, flower and a sword, using regular commercial balloons. Kids clamored for them. Even
as she pursued her magic career -- performing at the first ever SYM Magic Convention in Rhode Island last summer -- Melissa continued with her balloons. She
studied videos on the Internet. She made balloons for a Salvation Army backpack giveaway. She appeared at the Monroe Police Department's Tip a Cop event.
Then, by chance, last September she met a clown from Norwalk named Paul Mordoff who was twisting balloons at a local McDonald's and became her "balloon mentor." At his suggestion, she took part in the annual construction of a 10-room Halloween House in Rochester, N.Y., called "Balloon Manor." By October, she was also visiting the oncology center, where her grandmother would bring a friend for treatment. Melissa made the friend balloons, until her grandmother said it would make others feel bad because they didn't
have one. So Melissa filled large plastic bags for delivery and has visited herself on days off when she could, such as last Monday when local schools were closed for teacher training. "She's
a godsend," said Dr. Laurie Harrold, one of the specialists, noting how Melissa, who worked without instructions to guide her, lightened the atmosphere. "You see smiles," Harrold said. Florence
Williamson, of Shelton, a retired Bridgeport public school nurse, was one of those who was enthralled. "It's nice to see kids like her," said Williamson, adding that most youngsters are too wrapped up in video games. She proclaimed her new ladybug bracelet "the cutest." "You
have no idea how much joy you've brought into this room," said Vera Rozarie, of Stratford, a retired school administrator who was admiring her balloon angel, crafted with white for the dress, a brown head, and a yellow halo.
Melissa has also attracted other acclaim. At Senor Pancho's in Monroe, which is owned by a family friend and which she started going to regularly on Saturday nights, the customers flipped for her balloons. She
now receives tips that help cover her growing expenses for professional supplies. She hopes to increase her earnings by performing at birthday parties and other events when time permits. But
she's not resting on her already considerable accomplishments. Last week, she joined a class of 15 people in Stamford at workshops run by an expert "deco-twister," Robbie Furman. Melissa
struggled a bit with weaving a palm tree trunk, a technique this week's presentation to the oncology center indicated she's since mastered. But she held her own with the class otherwise composed entirely of adults, many professional event decorators. "She's
the youngest person I've ever seen at any of these classes," marveled Cindy Greenfeld, whose Party Creations is based in Brookfield. Fernanda
Nunes, of Stamford, another decorator in the class, said early learning helps. "I think the younger, the more creative you are," she said.
Although she considers it a nice avocation, Melissa doesn't see balloon-twisting or magic as a full-time career. "I've always wanted to be a veterinarian," said Melissa, whose menagerie now includes a dog, four doves, and a newly-arrived rabbit. She also studies tap and jazz, which she incorporates into her magic routines, and plays the flute. Her
family can't believe how the otherwise quiet pre-teen has blossomed with her new skills. "It's taught me to be confident in myself," Melissa said. But, she added, she's still quiet in school, and that her other life hasn't really registered with her classmates or teachers. For
all Melissa's gifts, Williamson said the one she was most impressed with was something that no magician taught her. "I
think her biggest talent is being able to relate to people," she said.
People interested in booking Melissa may reach her by phone at 257-9662.