Valeria Crippa, in Italy's Corriere della Sera, has been listening to the other side of the argument, as sacked dancer Mariafrancesca Garritano's accusations against the theatre and its school echoes around the world.
Luisa Vinci, director of the La Scala Academy (which includes departments of dance and music):
This scandal has hit us like a rock, and we worry about the psychological effects it may have on our students. Sadism? We have imposed a language to be used by our teachers which is particularly respectful of the feelings of teenagers. Those who did not follow these guidelines were removed.”
The children are monitored by a series of tests to ascertain their state of health, and any problems are reported to the academy's directors and doctors. Families are continuously updated via email, especially if the parents live in other regions.”
Omar De Bartolomeo, an orthopaedist:
Anorexia is a serious psychological disorder, not simply weight loss. It's intolerable to read that one dancer in five is anorexic. I've worked for La Scala since 1999 and have seen only two cases. With amenorrhea the girls are immediately reported to the Mangiagalli Clinic [a specialist clinic in Milan] and given rest from training. I see the students every day: for the girls, in particular, I regularly update the calculation of the percentile of body weight and foot size to verify that the point show is suitable.”
Frédéric Olivieri, director of the Ballet School:
Since I took office, I asked of everyone the utmost transparency. I spend my day among the children and my door is always open.”
La Scala company dancers:
We cannot support a campaign against the theater and the world of dance in general.”
The students, says Crippa, eat together in the self-service canteen, and the only dietary advice is not to exaggerate with the carbohydrates. So far the theatre has decided not to pursue legal action to claim damages from Garritano, but says that certainly damage to their reputation has been done.
Photo: from left, De Bartolomeo, Olivieri and Vinci
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.