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Program III: Firebird, Rodeo, NSS.


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Does anyone know what's going on with Kathryn Morgan? There has been such a big publicity push with her return to the stage and now she's on the cover of Dance Magazine as well as a big write-up in Pointe Magazine. Yet it seems she's barely dancing, especially in Firebird which she was training for. I'm starting to wonder if this was just a big PR stunt. I hope she gets back into tutu shape so we can see more of her. Does anybody know??

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No idea @jessa_sissonne according to IG she's currently in NYC in some mystery trip. I think she said (was that yesterday or the day before that?) that she can't share details yet. No sure what she's up to.

I don't think joining MCB was a PR stunt. I think she legitimately wants to dance full time professionally again. As for MCB, I'm sure her social media popularity was a big part of the reason they gave her a soloist contract after almost 10 years of not being on stage with a company and almost 8 years not being part of a company at all. I think if she weren't big on social media she'd have a corps contract (at best) after such long break. In a smaller company, I can see her getting the soloist nod, but not MCB. She did an interview in a podcast recently where she mentioned that the reason she injured her calf was because she was learning too many roles. She mentioned she was learning Mercedes in Don Q, so maybe she'll end up dancing AND it'd be interesting to see if she's also Queen of Dryads (does MCB do dual roles or do they cast two separate dancers?)

In my opinion, and my opinion only, her comeback is legitimate but she tried too hard too quickly and is just now finding out how much her body can truly handle at this age and after so much time away from the professional ranks. 

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13 hours ago, LadyBubbles said:

No idea @jessa_sissonne according to IG she's currently in NYC in some mystery trip. I think she said (was that yesterday or the day before that?) that she can't share details yet. No sure what she's up to.

A new Instagram story says the Today Show is doing a segment on her.

But has anyone seen her dance? @cubanmiamiboy did you see her at the beginning of the season in Slaughter on Tenth Ave.? 

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4 hours ago, Syzygy said:

A new Instagram story says the Today Show is doing a segment on her.

But has anyone seen her dance? @cubanmiamiboy did you see her at the beginning of the season in Slaughter on Tenth Ave.? 

@cubanmiamiboy - I would love to hear if you have seen her dancing and what your thoughts are?

@LadyBubbles - Do you recall the name of the podcast she was interviewed on?

Thanks guys!

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On 2/25/2020 at 11:11 PM, LadyBubbles said:

No idea @jessa_sissonne according to IG she's currently in NYC in some mystery trip. I think she said (was that yesterday or the day before that?) that she can't share details yet. No sure what she's up to.

I don't think joining MCB was a PR stunt. I think she legitimately wants to dance full time professionally again. As for MCB, I'm sure her social media popularity was a big part of the reason they gave her a soloist contract after almost 10 years of not being on stage with a company and almost 8 years not being part of a company at all. I think if she weren't big on social media she'd have a corps contract (at best) after such long break. In a smaller company, I can see her getting the soloist nod, but not MCB. She did an interview in a podcast recently where she mentioned that the reason she injured her calf was because she was learning too many roles. She mentioned she was learning Mercedes in Don Q, so maybe she'll end up dancing AND it'd be interesting to see if she's also Queen of Dryads (does MCB do dual roles or do they cast two separate dancers?)

In my opinion, and my opinion only, her comeback is legitimate but she tried too hard too quickly and is just now finding out how much her body can truly handle at this age and after so much time away from the professional ranks. 

For what I saw in "Slaughter..", she's definitely NOT in tutu shape yet. 

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On 2/26/2020 at 4:42 PM, jessa_sissonne said:

@cubanmiamiboy - I would love to hear if you have seen her dancing and what your thoughts are?

@LadyBubbles - Do you recall the name of the podcast she was interviewed on?

Thanks guys!

I only saw her as the Striptease girl in Slaughter, which is a minor, heeled, non tutu role. MCB is a company of petite ballerinas, so her weight looked quite disproportionate from the rest of the cast. Dancing wise, that role is just all about grand battements, and she showed very adequate extensions.

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1 hour ago, seallen said:

Brava Kathryn Morgan!  for bringing the full spotlight on body shaming in dance.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD0xB8VNzSk

 

Thank you so much for posting this and welcome!  This video touches me quite personally because at age 12 I had my first of 4 hospitalizations for anorexia and I was also a serious ballet student.  My situation was different because I was never told to lose weight.  At the Washington Ballet School, I was not allowed to audition for the Nutcracker until I put on some weight and at the Academy of the Maryland Youth Ballet I was asked to leave until I gained weight.  Luckily these 2 ballet schools acted responsibly in my situation.

 

This is a really tough issue because ballet does have certain aesthetics.  If a dancer really is having an issues with too much weight there needs to be a better way to address it and to help them.  Ballet involves scrutinizing every inch of the body in front of a mirror every day so that alone can cause issues.  Many ballet companies employ beautiful dancers who aren't stick thin and hopefully more companies can catch on.  Today's choreographic demands require a lot of strength and an undernourished body will not be able to keep up.

 

Thank you Kathryn Morgan for shedding some light on this situation so we can try to come up with better solutions.

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1 hour ago, ECat said:

Thank you so much for posting this and welcome!  This video touches me quite personally because at age 12 I had my first of 4 hospitalizations for anorexia and I was also a serious ballet student.  My situation was different because I was never told to lose weight.  At the Washington Ballet School, I was not allowed to audition for the Nutcracker until I put on some weight and at the Academy of the Maryland Youth Ballet I was asked to leave until I gained weight.  Luckily these 2 ballet schools acted responsibly in my situation.

 

This is a really tough issue because ballet does have certain aesthetics.  If a dancer really is having an issues with too much weight there needs to be a better way to address it and to help them.  Ballet involves scrutinizing every inch of the body in front of a mirror every day so that alone can cause issues.  Many ballet companies employ beautiful dancers who aren't stick thin and hopefully more companies can catch on.  Today's choreographic demands require a lot of strength and an undernourished body will not be able to keep up.

 

Thank you Kathryn Morgan for shedding some light on this situation so we can try to come up with better solutions.

ECat thank you so very much for sharing your story -  it is so powerful for us individually and collectively to speak our truth. This is ballet's greatest opportunity to heal and thrive as we move into the future. 

I also have a story of body shaming beginning at age 11 as I entered training in a professional program in NYC.  I was a student in the 60s, just as the 'body type' for ballet was under the influence of Balanchine and SAB was actively sorting and selecting accordingly...this influence took hold at other schools, where I also studied and danced, as the Balanchine body became the ideal in the late 60's and 70's.  

My memories, while 50 years ago, are still so fresh and alive: looking up to the 'older' girls (12 and 13) who would offer tips for what we now know is disordered eating, listening to girls in the dressing room bathroom stalls suffering with bulimia, having a teacher suggest I eat one container of yogurt and if I was hungry to have a small piece of cheese in order to get into the costume (I was 5'4" growing to almost 5'5" and weighed 104 lbs), I watched and participated in humiliating weigh ins and the celebration and praise when we had starved ourselves to reach weight.

I have been a fan of Kathryn Morgan throughout her early rise, her illness and now as an exceptionally gifted dancer, teacher and advocate for health in ballet (physical and mental).  While old enough to be her mother, her powerful video speaks to me - speaks to that confused and emotionally abused little girl, still inside, who was told that I was so talented but my body was so "wrong".

It is time to embrace new standards of what is aesthetically pleasing in dance - other aesthetic forms are beginning to embrace body diversity. It is my hope that together, with our love of the art form, we will create a movement that as Morgan states, "stands up" and "talks about this more".  We will no longer stand for "ruining the joy" as we become advocates mental health and body image in the ballet world.

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40 minutes ago, seallen said:

ECat thank you so very much for sharing your story -  it is so powerful for us individually and collectively to speak our truth. This is ballet's greatest opportunity to heal and thrive as we move into the future. 

I also have a story of body shaming beginning at age 11 as I entered training in a professional program in NYC.  I was a student in the 60s, just as the 'body type' for ballet was under the influence of Balanchine and SAB was actively sorting and selecting accordingly...this influence took hold at other schools, where I also studied and danced, as the Balanchine body became the ideal in the late 60's and 70's.  

My memories, while 50 years ago, are still so fresh and alive: looking up to the 'older' girls (12 and 13) who would offer tips for what we now know is disordered eating, listening to girls in the dressing room bathroom stalls suffering with bulimia, having a teacher suggest I eat one container of yogurt and if I was hungry to have a small piece of cheese in order to get into the costume (I was 5'4" growing to almost 5'5" and weighed 104 lbs), I watched and participated in humiliating weigh ins and the celebration and praise when we had starved ourselves to reach weight.

I have been a fan of Kathryn Morgan throughout her early rise, her illness and now as an exceptionally gifted dancer, teacher and advocate for health in ballet (physical and mental).  While old enough to be her mother, her powerful video speaks to me - speaks to that confused and emotionally abused little girl, still inside, who was told that I was so talented but my body was so "wrong".

It is time to embrace new standards of what is aesthetically pleasing in dance - other aesthetic forms are beginning to embrace body diversity. It is my hope that together, with our love of the art form, we will create a movement that as Morgan states, "stands up" and "talks about this more".  We will no longer stand for "ruining the joy" as we become advocates mental health and body image in the ballet world.

Thank YOU for sharing your story.  Much like you, my eating disorder started a long while ago (early 1990's) and it would have been so helpful if we had someone like Kathryn Morgan who spoke openly about this sort of thing.  For me it felt like suffering silently and alone and I thought it was normal.  Kudos to people who are opening up and starting discussions about this.  I am sorry that you had to go through that.

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Even with what we have gone through as young dancers, ballet continues to bring such deep joy.  Ballet training and dancing brought me so much that is good in my life and that has contributed to my happiness and success as an adult beyond the professional dancer option.

Thanks, as well, to this forum where I have taken so much delight in the musings, opinions, and sharing of diverse and passionate ballet lovers.

We may all not agree, all the time,  but we all share deeply, in the love of 'the ballet' !

 

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Wow - what a moving video. So brave of Kathryn Morgan to come out and discuss this at the same time she's going through this in her current company. I hope speaking about this publicly doesn't jeopardize her position in MCB and any of her current roles.  I'd wondered if her weight was a factor in not getting that Firebird role, especially since Miami has sooo many petite women and she doesn't quite fit that mold.  I'm so sad to hear it was, in fact, the case.  (fwiw I think Mercedes in Don Q is a perfect role for her)

It really touched me - I have such a complicated relationship with ballet.  I love ballet so much and will always look forward to seeing ballets and following dancers on Instagram, etc, but as a student who was lucky enough to train at a serious school and travel to various summer programs, it was so easy to see students fall into the trap of losing weight and extreme calorie restriction, especially while away from home and fighting for top roles.  Those habits follow a person well into adulthood.

Even as merely a ballet viewer now, at my home company SF Ballet, so many of their top dancers are shorter, petite women, and I worry that it's hard for management to break the mold and bring in more dancers with unconventional bodies.  I'm not sure when the ballet world will be able to break the cycle.  SFB has one or two prominent women who aren't the typical skinny minnie, but other than that I'm not sure there's any impetus for real change.

I'm so glad Morgan is using her huge platform for something good and I think she'll be able to bring about some change.

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Posted (edited)

I think it is wonderful to be the voice against anorexia, bulimia and body shaming. I think it is fair to be upset because you were pulled out of a role at the last minute. To think that with the evident weight difference with that of the rest of a whole company you won't be challenged to change it-( which I believe there are many healthy, comprehensive ways to do it)- is delusional.

Exposing problems within the enclosed world of ballet-( just as Kirkland did with drugs, Volochkova with weight or Waterbury with non consensual sex stuff)- is always controversial. The one thing that I see comes up as very positive with Morgan might be getting the message to vulnerable teenagers on how to live with the fact that your body will never be the one that ballet companies look for, and still be happy.  

Morgan speaking about "unfair" casting decisions with her company on social media is not, in my book, a smart move. Remember Womack.

 

Edited by cubanmiamiboy
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Thanks for sharing. I'm glad she's able to share her own story and speak up. I don't think there will be repercussions with MCB. Lourdes knew what she looked like when she hired her. I doubt she expected her to go from her normal ballet size to super petite in less than a year.

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16 minutes ago, LadyBubbles said:

Thanks for sharing. I'm glad she's able to share her own story and speak up. I don't think there will be repercussions with MCB. Lourdes knew what she looked like when she hired her. I doubt she expected her to go from her normal ballet size to super petite in less than a year.

Agreed - Lourdes lent her full support on social media following the Today Show interview. 

The message, as I hear it, is to advocate for mental health and body image issues and to call out body shaming, in the ballet world. 

Kathryn Morgan is talking about the body shaming that contributes to "self-loathing" that happens in early training and can continue into a professional career: (consider her mentor, the beautiful Jennifer Ringer critiqued by NYTimes as Sugar Plum). 

Morgan did not complain about not getting a role, but how body shaming beats down the psyche of creative, artistic beings. 

She celebrates her opportunity to be a voice for those who have been body shamed.

She has always affirmed that ballet is an aesthetic art and has said she will never be the skinniest one in the room. 

She announced "I am ok"..."I know I am still going to dance" "I think about my 12 year old self, my 14 year old self ...or even my 21 year old self who went down a spiral when I got ill". 

And - she also declares "I am in a ballet company ... I am dancing Mercedes...and that 's going to be really fun."

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20 hours ago, seallen said:

1-Agreed - Lourdes lent her full support on social media following the Today Show interview. 

2-Morgan did not complain about not getting a role, but how body shaming beats down the psyche of creative, artistic beings. 

 

1- Wouldn't it be Lourdes herself who pulled her out of a role she very much wanted to dance....? 

2- That's not what I got from the teary video. She clearly feels she was prepared for the role. She clearly states she was pulled out at the last minute.  And she was emotional about it.

And yes...the biggest picture here is definitely her message to the vulnerable teens that the world won't come to an end if you're not selected for Firebird based on your weight. That life goes on and can be enjoyable even without that role.

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Does anyone know MCB well enough to answer two questions. 1. Who was cast in the role? 2. Are there other dancers who learned it but were not cast?

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45 minutes ago, vipa said:

Does anyone know MCB well enough to answer two questions. 1. Who was cast in the role? 2. Are there other dancers who learned it but were not cast?

I know one was Nathalia Arja who was promoted to principal:

 

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Thank you. I'm not familiar with Nathalia Arja as a dancer. I guess I'm left wondering if Morgan knows somehow, that if she was thinner she would have been cast. I am totally supportive of Morgan's message to young people. At the same time she must know there are a lot of reasons management chooses one dancer over another.  Back in the day, when I was a dancer, I didn't get a role because I didn't fit into a costume. I've also heard - I just don't see you in the role. 

One thing to keep in mind is that casting is a zero sum game. If Morgan had been cast someone else would not have been, for one reason or another.

I guess I'm just saying it's difficult to sort out, but the body image message is a great one, particularly to young dance students.

 

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Lourdes Lopez knew who and what she was getting when she hired Kathryn Morgan. She wouldn’t have been learning the role of Firebird if Ms. Lopez didn’t see her doing it. 
 

On Kathryn Morgan’s Facebook group, she says that she had had her own Firebird costume made, but it was thought she wasn’t in shape enough to wear it on stage. 
 

I am horrified by this - in this day and age!  

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