Kathryn Morgan Begins New Chapter at Houston's Royal Academy of Fine Arts

Kathryn Morgan teaches RAFA students. Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy of Morgan

Kathryn Morgan's inspiring, unconventional journey in ballet is entering a new chapter as she becomes the main ballet teacher of the Trainee Program at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas. Morgan, 27, was a New York City Ballet soloist until an autoimmune illness in 2012 forced her to refocus her love of ballet in different directions. She has since carved a new path for herself with a YouTube channel, online teaching, private coaching, an advice column in Dance Spirit magazine and other dance-related projects.

The Trainee Program is RAFA's pre-professional division and designed for students pursuing professional careers and college dance programs.

"Students have the choice to audition for the Trainee Program once they reach a certain level, usually around the age of 11," says Morgan. "The demands of this program are far more rigorous in terms of attendance, personal accountability, commitment to the training regimen and self-discipline."

Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy of Morgan

Morgan, who recently got married and moved to Houston, says that RAFA was the perfect fit for her as a teacher. "My goal was to find a school that I could not only be involved with but that would be willing to take me on," she explains. "I reached out to executive director Travis Kelley just to see what would happen. Things happened very quickly, and the rest is history."

For her approach to teaching the Trainee Program, Morgan says she is looking forward to challenging her students. "Every student in the program is committed—they have this demanding dance schedule by choice," she says. "Because they want to improve and want to be there, I won't be afraid to push them."

Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy of Morgan

But she isn't just referring to pushing them technically. She also wants to help them become artists—something she believes is essential to dance training.

"I think teachers need to remember, especially with pre-professional students, that it's not just about technique anymore," she says. "It's about artistry, musicality and making something more out of the steps. That's what makes you a complete package as a dancer."

Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy of Morgan

And fear not, YouTube fans: Morgan's new role doesn't mean she will put her popular channel on the back burner. Nor will she halt her online dance lessons or private coaching.

"I will still be doing everything I am already doing," she says. "But RAFA will be my home base. I am very happy to be working with a group of students on a regular basis. That will be just as important as everything else."

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