Mariafrancesca Garritano (aka Mary Garret) who denounced anorexia in the La Scala school and company, and was sacked by the Milanese theatre two days ago, hasn’t been backed up by all her colleagues. Eleonora Abbagnato, who is also 33 like Garritano, told La Repubblica newspaper,
Nothing of what she says is true. I have worked with many theatres up and down Italy and have not seen anorexics, or instructors and directors who made ballerinas obsess about excessive diets. Your physique is important, even fundamental, but how can you not eat when you are training for seven or eight hours a day?
If they called her names like Mozzarella, it means she had problems with muscle tone. Maybe she should have tried another profession.”
Abbagnato certainly doesn’t mince her words.
Garritano’s negative experiences at La Scala’s ballet school, which she left fifteen years ago, were continuing with today’s students, she claimed.
I talk to people coming through the system and it seems nothing has changed.”
Carlo Maria Cella, head of La Scala’s press office, responded yesterday,
Saying that La Scala is similar to what Garritano says she experienced 15 years ago is false. Educational methods used then are not used today and the school now has a course on nutrition.”
He also commented on Garritano’s statement that many dancers were unable to have children because of excessive dieting.
As for not having children, nine of Garritano’s fellow dancers have become pregnant in the past year-and-a-half.”
On Garritano’s side however is her close friend, and former colleague, Michele Villanova. He contacted The Observer yesterday,
One in five of the ballerinas of that generation from that school had eating disorders, and continue to experience serious consequences. I saw it in the mood swings, when people would go into deep depression after gaining weight. It is absurd the La Scala fired her before carrying out an in-depth investigation.”
Dancers are afraid to speak out, and what happened to Garritano shows why.”
which is strange coming from a member of a company famous for letting its dancers oust the company’s directors (six changes in the last twenty years), and its union decide on aspects of casting.
Villanova though talks to parents of his students about why their children want to enter the ballet world,
The parents are often just concerned their children get a place to study. What they don’t understand is that the first years of studying are hugely important from an emotional point of view.”