Reviving the Cincinnati Ballet

When Victoria Morgan joined the Cincinnati Ballet as artistic director, she never expected that 11 years later she would take on the additional role of CEO to confront a challenging fiscal deficit. She led a drive to raise $800,000, which included pledges from board members, a dynamic marketing campaign and a unique collaboration with BalletMet Columbus. One year later, Cincinnati Ballet was debt-free. This month, celebrating its 50th season, the company collaborates with BalletMet to perform Swan Lake in Columbus and Cincinnati.

Partnering with BalletMet: “When Gerard [Charles, former AD of BalletMet] and I started this collaboration, it was a logistical nightmare. But when we got to see the process, it was obvious that there was such stimulation in the studio. There was an influx of spirit, talent and energy. And the dancers were thriving because they’re innately in love with the competition. Finally, the performance arrived, and instead of having 12 lovely corps de ballet swans, we had 24! It was spectacular.”

The logistics: “We divided and conquered. When corps de ballet sections were set, we had CB2 dancers and Academy students step in for the slots in which BalletMet dancers would eventually appear. We’ll go to Columbus first to perform, and their principals will be highlighted on opening night. But we’ll have a second cast, so their community will be able to see some of our principals. And when the production comes to Cincinnati, it’s the reverse.”

Balancing AD and CEO duties: “I have a lot of conversations with myself. ‘Do you really need that costume? It’ll cost this much in the budget.’ ‘Oh yes, I do! It’s so beautiful, people will remember it!’ I think that because I’m the executive and financial head, our company’s vision is more unified. There used to be so many conflicts—the executive director would send a message to staff, looking only at the numbers, and the AD would be unwilling to even look at the numbers. Now our message about the artform and making it relevant to the community is on the same page with our strategy.”

Her accomplishments: “I’m proud of our financial stability, but also that we’ve been able to link

to the community with education outreach and CB2 performances. We’re stretching the artform

to be more inclusive, so that our city feels this company is important to it. I don’t know that they felt that way before.”

DT

Education: BFA and MFA in dance from University of Utah

Performance Career: principal dancer with Ballet West (1969–1978) and San Francisco Ballet (1978–1987)

Choreography: resident choreographer at San Francisco Opera for nearly a decade

Leadership: artistic director of Cincinnati Ballet since 1997 and CEO since 2008

Photo by Peter Mueller, courtesy of Cincinnati Ballet

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