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Chic Spotlight: Cincinnati Ballet's Victoria Morgan PDF Print E-mail
Written by Linda Palacios   
Wednesday, 16 September 2009 03:53

Chic Spotlight: Cincinnati Ballet's Victoria Morgan
She lives every little girl's dream occupation — a ballerina. Learn how this local entertainment powerhouse works to ensure the Cincinnati Ballet's graceful presence in our city.
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Cincy Chic
: What first attracted you to the world of dance, and what does that world mean to you?

 

Victoria Morgan, Cincinnati Ballet Director and CEO: Initially, I was forced to go into dance because I was born with a stomach hernia, and the doctor told my mother that I needed to exercise. So, I started taking modern dance. “Now we’re a tree in the breeze, now we’re flowers growing.” That was my first form of exercise, and the world of movement has informed every stage of my life.

 

Cincy Chic: How did you go from your first grand plié to serving as both the artistic director and the CEO of the Cincinnati Ballet?

 

Morgan: My first grand plié was probably when I was 6 years old, and now I’m 58, so it’s been kind of a long path. The art form itself, for me, was a means of pride — a place that I could go in my everyday life where I felt that I had some control. If I worked hard, I got better. It’s not an abstract kind of learning, either. If you work hard to memorize something, it’s still a thought, not something you can touch. Dance is physical, and so you can see and feel the physical changes occurring in your body. You can feel new strength building or an extension that finds new height. You can feel the lift at the end of that third pirouette. It’s quantitative.

 

… I think that my relationship to the art form was particularly shaped when I was a performer both with Ballet West in Salt Lake City in my early years and at San Francisco Ballet where we had some of the world’s most exciting choreographers and there was a healthy but also big competition among the dancers. Technique at San Francisco Ballet was really challenging for me when the artistic directors changed and the focus was on the Balanchine speed, musicality and stamina. I felt that a lot of my dance aesthetic and my personal artistic views about dance were formed and inspired by the time I spent there.

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Evolving to the position of CEO was in some ways a very natural step. Having been artistic director for 11 years, I had experienced the company during intervals of time when there was no executive director. I also was very privy to the fact that all areas of our operations are intimately connected. For instance, when marketing didn’t reach the goal for subscribers or single tickets, or development was not able to raise funding for productions, the consistent consequence was the need to cut artistic aspects of the company such as the number of dancers or work weeks, live music, or the caliber of the choreography. I started getting very interested in the administrative side of the organization that ensures the artistic elements have financial underpinning. In so many ways, artistic and administrative are inseparable.

 

Cincy Chic: This is for the Cincy Chic Entertainment issue, so what entertains you most about your job?

 

Morgan: The dancers entertain me most. All of them are young, in their early 20s to early 30s. The average age is probably 24, so there is definitely a unique and youthful vibrancy among them. I think in part because a dancer’s career is a short career (you retire in your early to mid-30s), there is an urgency about making a statement and wanting to explore the art form, so there’s high energy amongst dancers in general. It’s not always true that this energy is positive because I see the quest for perfection and the frustration that comes with that, but dancers are full of life. They are really good at entertaining each other and the person at the front of the room.

 

My greatest joy is watching them find more advanced levels of technique or find clever ways to interpret movement ideas. I feel really lucky to be in that place where I get to see this invention and creativity all the time.

 

Cincy Chic: How can readers expect to be entertained by the Cincinnati Ballet in upcoming months?

 

Morgan: You can definitely expect to be entertained by the wide range of bold productions in our 2009-10 Season. I’m very excited about our production of "Swan Lake" coming up October 23 to 25. That is a collaboration with BalletMet Columbus, which I find thrilling because often when we do a major production like this, we have to hire additional supplemental (part-time) dancers, and they really are never at the caliber of a full-time professional dancer. Our collaboration with BalletMet will fill the entire stage with professional dancers, and the experience is undeniably exhilarating.

 

We follow with "Nutcracker," our highest attended production, which is a family tradition for many, many people. Because it’s the production where most people are touched by dance for the first time in their lives, we put a lot of effort into the overall production for sets and costumes, live music, choreography and all artistic elements so that every part of the storytelling is strong. "Nutcracker" will be at the Aronoff December 17 to 27.

 

Cincy Chic: Over the years, what have been some of the more amusing experiences you've encountered in dance?

 

Morgan: I have some crazy stories about falls and moments on stage that I have frankly only been able to view in retrospect as hysterical. One memory vividly stands out, though. When I was on tour in Hawaii with San Francisco Ballet, we performed "Beauty and the Beast," and I was a flower in the garden. I had this kind of a bud-like thing on my head. I was lifted up and put in the air surrounded by other “bulbs.” I did a turn, and my bulb hat just flew off — just flew into the air.

 

Incredibly, it landed in my fellow ballerina’s hands, who was dancing the same role, and there she was, shocked and amazed to have this flower head caught in her hand. We were onstage for a while like that! All the flowers were dancing in a circle, doing this kind of stretching thing, and every time we did it, I could almost reach my lost bulb, which my friend was doing her best to obscure even while she was dancing. She finally did an energetic jump and threw the thing off stage, wherein the audience gave her a round of applause.

 

I danced the rest of the piece in the skullcap (which managed to stay on). Mortifying. It took me a while to be able to laugh about my turn as a decapitated flower!

 

Cincy Chic: When the lights have dimmed and the dancers have left the stage, where do you go to seek entertainment?

 

Morgan: Home to my husband and my poochie, Teddy Moe.

 

Cincy Chic: What's your favorite thing about Cincinnati?

 

Morgan: Simply put, the people I’ve met here and the work that I do here.

 

PHOTO CREDITS

Photo courtesy of Victoria Morgan

 

Linda Palacios -

Linda Palacios is the editor of Cincy Chic. Send her an e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .Read More >>


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Last Updated on Monday, 21 September 2009 05:44
 

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