During a visit to Cincinnati Ballet, DDP founder Liza Yntema filmed a moment of rehearsal. Victoria Morgan was coaching Principal Melissa Gelfin for an upcoming production: Bold Moves. Morgan’s new Dancing to Oz is a feature of the triple bill, and is based on The Wizard of Oz. The video shows the great amount of trust, joy, and collaboration that goes into this process between two women.
The journey of Dorothy is a familiar one. Gelfin must embody an independent girl, journeying to a new land (though the story begins in the studio) and defying all odds. In the novel, the villain is a woman (The Wicked Witch of the West); the hero is a woman (Dorothy); the comfort of home is represented by a woman (Aunt Em); and the primary aid of the hero is a woman (Glinda). The predominant role of women remains in Cincinnati Ballet’s Oz.
Victoria Morgan certainly has women on her mind. The artistic director is outspoken when it comes to women’s roles in dance. The Cincinnati Business Courier recently highlighted this, examining Morgan’s rare opportunity as a woman leading a significant ballet company in America. “Now in her 22nd season with Cincinnati Ballet, the Covington resident is one of just three female artistic directors of American ballet companies with budgets of more than $10 million. Despite avenues that have opened for women in other industries, it is still unusual for a woman to hold a leadership role in dance.” Janelle Gelfand then quoted Morgan, who said, “’It is rare, and it was rare when I became the artistic director. I just assumed that things would change…I think it’s a little bit better – there are women at the head of Washington Ballet and Miami City Ballet. But of companies with an operating budget of $10 million and above, there’s just the three of us. In those top-tier companies in the upper echelon, it’s all men.’”
The women leading in and out of the studio should be empowered to use their voice and be heard. DDP hears Morgan loud and clear.
Watch Morgan and Gelfin rehearse below:
Read the Cincinnati Business Courier feature here.