Madonna Louise Ciccone was born on Aug. 16, 1958 in Bay City, Michigan.
As a teenager, she was known both for her rebellious antics and for her excellent performance in school. She rejected her conservative upbringing and acted out against her stepmother after her mother’s death, while maintaining a perfectionist drive and desire to make herself known. She became a cheerleader and developed an interest in ballet and dance.
After graduating high school early, she won a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan. After winning another scholarship with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, she decided to drop out in 1978 and head straight for New York City.
There, she performed in a few dance troupes and made ends meet with odd jobs, including waitressing and modeling for nude art classes.
Here, the 20-year-old dancer poses for photographer Michael McDonnell in the spring of 1979. That same year, she traveled to France to perform as a showgirl, where she added singing to her repertoire of skills.