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Kathryn Morgan is Dancing Again

In 2012, Kathryn Morgan seemed bound for stardom: The New York City Ballet soloist dazzled in prominent roles, earning fierce love from critics, audiences and her director alike. (Peter Martins later  that she was one of the greatest talents he’d ever seen.) But then her hair began falling out, her energy disappeared and she quickly gained 30 pounds, all due to an under-functioning thyroid. She quit NYCB and returned to her hometown in Mobile, Alabama. But she wasn’t done dancing. Today, she’s finally healthy again and is taking her first steps back to the stage. We chatted on the phone last week about her highly-anticipated return.

 

Morgan in rehearsal with her To Dance co-star, Jesse Carrey, and director Donald Garverick (in back).

Tell me about the projects you have coming up.

Next month, I’ll be in a new ballet musical called To Dance The Musical at FringeNYC. It’s about two dancers, Valery and Galina Panov, who lived in cold war Russia. I’m singing, which is slightly terrifying. But my favorite thing in my dance career was always the acting bits, so it’s a great opportunity. Jason Fowler, a former City Ballet soloist, is producing it.

I’ll also be performing in Cleveland in September, Detroit in November and possibly Denver in 2016 with Ballet in the City, formerly known as Ballet in Cleveland. I’m doing the Black Swan variation, Kitri’s variation from Act I, and a new variation that will be created for me, The Red Shoes.

 

What does coming back feel like?

Incredible. To know that I’ve beaten this… Because for a very long time I was so ill, so out of shape, I was sitting there looking at my hair falling out and looking at myself blow up like a balloon, and I thought I would never get past it.

 

Morgan photographed by Lauren Woods

How hard has it been to get back into shape?

My body’s actually re-adapted really quickly now that I’m well. It was when I was fighting it while I was still sick that it was not working. Those last couple of years at City Ballet, I don’t know how I got through a rehearsal day because my muscles were wasting away and I had no energy. Now—I can’t believe I’m saying this—but it’s been pretty easy. I feel strong, I feel healthy.

 

Tell me about your YouTube fame.

I started a channel last year because I wanted to get back into the business somehow. There were no dancers on YouTube, and I didn’t have any company to answer to or be approved by. I wanted to give the next generation of dancers the tools they need because when I was a student everyone was so secretive. It was really miserable. I remember not even having people help me learn how to tie my pointe shoes.

What’s next?

I’d just like to perform as much as I can. A lot of people ask, Are you going to join a company? I don’t know. It would depend on the company. I’m very interested to see where this musical goes, and maybe I’ll look more down that route. I’m really enjoying the dancing, the acting and the singing. I’m just grateful for what I have right now.

What advice do you have for other dancers who’ve experienced setbacks in their careers?

Looking back, I thought for sure that I wasn’t going to get through it. But I did. The thing that really helped me was to remember why I loved dancing in the first place. Find your motivation, why you love to do what you do. And if you decide not to keep dancing, that’s okay. Dancers often feel like they’re a failure if they stop. But don’t compare yourself to other people—life never goes the way you think it will.

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