Founder and Owner, Marshall Ellis Dance School
Artistic Director, Dance Theatre of Orlando
Marshall Ellis is a driving force in the burgeoning Central Florida arts community, creating an environment where professional dancers and students alike can cultivate their talent and artistry, and where innovative approaches to dance inspire growth in the arts and entertainment.
The founder and owner of Marshall Ellis Dance School and artistic director of Dance Theatre of Orlando, Ellis has trained, traveled and danced around the world, performing solo and principal roles throughout Europe, Asia and the United States. He is a former principal dancer for Orlando Ballet, dancing under the direction of the renowned Fernando Bujones and serving as Company Representative. After his years at Orlando Ballet, Ellis became the principal dancer for Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba, where he performed the company’s premier ballet role. He also became an Equity dancer and principal dance captain at Walt Disney World, performing in “Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage” and “Festival of the Lion King.”
Ellis’s credits include performing with NSYNC in the NFL Pro Bowl Halftime Show and dancing with Neil Patrick Harris in the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade.
A native of Alabama, Ellis began dancing at age 6, winning regional and national titles in competitions. At 15, he enrolled in the Alabama School of Fine Arts and begin studying ballet under the direction of Therese Laeger. Upon graduation, he received the Prix D’Excellence de Danse, ASFA’s premier award.
From there Ellis joined Ballet Austin, and subsequently was invited to dance under full scholarship at Images of Dance, London Studio Centre’s classical ballet company. During his time in London, he received the coveted Dave Rymer Trust Prize.
Throughout his career, Ellis has worked as a teacher and choreographer at organizations including Alabama School of Fine Arts, Orlando Ballet School, STEPS Program for at-risk children, Walt Disney World Resort and Dance Masters of America. His choreographed works for students and companies have been performed and awarded in Youth American Grand Prix, and his professional work has been performed by ASFA, Arova Dance Company, Cirque du Soleil, Orlando Ballet and ME Dance, Dance Theatre of Orlando. He has served as a guest teacher at organizations throughout the United States and currently works as a guest choreographer at Rollins College.
When Ellis formed his professional company in 2011, his vision was to introduce innovative ideas that would enrich the arts community and provide an outlet to feature artistic talent. To that end, he has mounted numerous original productions, and he became the founder and producer of the popular I Dance Orlando Festival and Orlando Tap Festival, both annual events offering instruction and performance opportunities for dancers. Ellis is also Artistic Director for the ME2 pre-professional dance company and Creative Director of the ME1st junior dance company. He owns and operates ME Theatre, a performing arts venue that gives local and international artists a platform to create and showcase artistic talents.
He built on his success by opening ME Dance School in 2014, with the goal of providing students with an environment where they can cultivate their talent and artistry to its fullest potential. There he has developed his unique Fusion program, featuring a blend of classes in ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, hip hop, contemporary, aerial and tumbling. In 2017 he introduced the Elite Training Program, an intensive, full-time ballet program designed to train the next generation of dancers.
In addition to dance, Ellis has a longstanding passion for media design and created his production company, WME Design, in 2008. He has self-produced more than 40 shows and events and served as lead designer on many more for client organizations. WME Design offers graphic design, videography, photography and music editing.
Ellis is married to Alex Schudde-Ellis, who is an Equity dance captain at Walt Disney World Resort, a dancer at Universal Studios Florida and a teacher at ME Dance School.