Magazine article Pointe

What's in A Name?

Magazine article Pointe

What's in A Name?

Article excerpt

Cynthia Gregory on being a "ballerina"

Former prima ballerina Cynthia Gregory doesn't like the word "ballerina."

A principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre who was celebrated for her technical virtuosity, the range of her repertoire and especially her interpretation of Swan Lake, she danced professionally for 31 years. At a time when Soviet dancers were considered the best in the world. Gregory rivaled them in ability.

Gregory began studying ballet at age 5 and joined San Francisco Ballet when she was just 15. In 1965, she went to ABT, quickly becoming a soloist and then a principal. By 1985, when ABT mounted an unusual gala performance in her honor. Gregory had received numerous awards and performed as a guest artist with the world's major dance companies. She retired in 1991 at 45. Gregory has written two ballet books and continues to exhibit her drawings, yet she once described herself as "just an all-American girl" and today calls herself a stay-at-home mom.

On August 13, Gregory will be a part of "The Ballerina in the 21st Century," a symposium presented by Pointe and the Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts in Torrington, CT. She'll be joined by principal dancers Alexandra Ansanelli of New York City Ballet and Cynthia Quinn of MOMIX. Former principal dancers Eleanor D'Antuono (ABT) and Lourdes Lopez (NYCB) will also take part.

In addition to attempting to define "ballerina"-past and present-the panel will also discuss the business of being a ballerina. A common sentiment in the industry is that dancers today must be better equipped to manage their lives, because companies are less involved.

Gregory disagrees. "Companies never took care of you," she says. Nor do most dancers have good managers, "unlike rock stars and actresses, because there's no money in it. Though it's better than being an actress. They have to keep auditioning. At least with a company, if the director thinks you're good, they will use you. …

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