Mariafrancesca Garritano, a soloist with the La Scala Ballet Company, wrote a book in 2010 exposing the eating-disorders which afflict one in five dancers, she claimed. “La verità, vi prego, sulla danza!” (The Truth, Please, About Ballet) made international waves, and when The Observer newspaper picked up the story just before the glamorous opening of La Scala's season on 7 December 2011, the company's management had had enough, and fired Garritano, who writes under the name, Mary Garret.
This week it was announced that her appeal against La Scala's action has been unsuccessful, with the courts upholding La Scala's position in the case.
Garritano, who has not been dancing with the company since 2012, now finds herself, at 35, without a job, having started at La Scala's Ballet Academy when she was 16. A wounded Garritano said,
They teach you when you are a child to believe in justice and in ideals, they teach you to tell the truth and not to be afraid to fight for what is right.I spoke some important truths, I believed in fighting to improve the situation, and I was hopeful that this could come about. Now I have great difficulty in believing in a justice system that should have helped and protected me.
Not everyone agreed with what Garritano was saying about the state of affairs in the company, and some big names spoke out against her, but there is no doubt that she believes 100% in what she has said and written.
The career of a dancer has been halted unjustly, but not her powers of reasoning.
She is convinced that she was singled out to ‘teach a lesson' to any others wishing to rock the boat, and she makes it clear that she is not going to keep quiet and disappear:
The time waiting for the legal decision is over, now it is time for the truth and I intend to pursue this to the very end. I may have lost my job, but not my dignity.
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.
I am sorry to learn that Marifrancesca Garritano (Mary Garret) was fired from La Scala for her book and her views. Unfortunately, anorexia and eating-disorders is not exclusive to any single ballet company, in Italy or elsewhere. While upset to be looking for a job at 35, I would think that with her wealth of experience and passion, that she would be able to find employment somewhere very quickly. Buona fortuna!