Amanda Morgan

Ballet Dancer, Choreographer, Activist
A woman in a leotard adops a dance pose.

Pacific Northwest Ballet corps de ballet dancer Amanda Morgan. Photo © Lindsay Thomas

Music Credit: “NY” composed and performed by Kosta T, from the cd Soul Sand, used courtesy of the Free Music Archive.

Amanda Morgan: I think I realized that the basis of everything that I have always wanted to do is being there for my community, making art for my community, speaking out for my community

Jo Reed: That is ballet dancer, choreographer and activist Amanda Morgan and this is Art Works, the weekly podcast from the National Endowment for the Arts, I’m Josephine Reed.

Amanda Morgan is in the corps of the prestigious Pacific Northwest Ballet based in Seattle—it is one of the largest and best-regarded companies in the United States with a deep commitment to racial diversity. But although its dancers are comprised of 26% of people of color, Amanda is its only black female ballet dancer--add to that her height of 5 foot ten inches and you have someone who stands out. But Amanda decided long ago that “if you don’t see what you want to see around you, create it…” and so she has. Finding herself not picked by choreographers, she began to create dances herself, she co-founded a mentorship program between company dancers and students at Pacific Northwest Ballet School, she began The Seattle Project an interdisciplinary artist collective that presents performing art to the community, and she spoke at protests in Seattle about pervasive racism—calling out the ballet community for its lack of racial equity. Amanda is talented, determined and outspoken. She also loves ballet and loves being part of the Pacific Northwest Ballet family and it does feel like a family to her —but she’s also forthcoming about some of obstacles she’s faced as a black ballet dancer--for example, as much she was thrilled to be in the Pacific Northwest Ballet School, she was troubled when as a student she watched the company perform and saw no one who looked like her….

Amanda Morgan: It was during “Swan Lake” specifically, which already is such a classical ballet, everyone’s in white so it’s just very <laughs> obvious if someone stands out, and I didn’t see anyone that looked like me and everyone-- in the intermission all of the girls in my class they were saying, “Oh, she’s this one” or “I- I’m like this dancer on stage” and I literally went to the bathroom by myself and cried because I was like “I’m not like anyone. I don’t think I’m going to end up being able to be in this company because it always seems like you have to be similar to someone in order to kind of get to that level” or at least that’s what I saw at the time, but luckily Karel Cruz who’s in the company he was one of the first dancers I saw and I definitely saw part of myself in him, him being someone that is Cuban and Afro-Caribbean. So I- I’m lucky that I had him and also Lindsi Dec because they are both tall too, I’m also very tall, so I was trying to not let it get too much in my mind but there was definitely hard moments.

Jo Reed: You have been dancing since you were a child. What was it about ballet that not only drew you in but made you stay?

Amanda Morgan: So <laughs> I started dance when I was two and a half, which is quite young, but my mom tells me ever since I could basically walk I was always just dancing and super active, super hyper, so she thought to put me in ballet because when she was younger she did ballet but then it inevitably stopped so she’s like “Ballet’s a good thing for her to start in” so I went and I just loved it and I stayed in it ever since.

Jo Reed: It is an enormous commitment for a child who moves into a professional track as you did, such a commitment not just for you but for your mom as well.

Amanda Morgan: Yeah, definitely. I think anyone that does this profession really has to kind of sacrifice certain things when they’re-- when they get to be a certain age so in high school I wasn’t always going to the football games or all of the little hangouts that I would maybe want to have during that time. I was going to ballet class instead and taking the city bus every day, going to school-- high school at like six thirty in the morning--

Jo Reed: You grew up in Tacoma, Washington. Correct?

Amanda Morgan: Yes, I did, proud to be from Tacoma, born and raised there,

Jo Reed: You ended up at school at the School of American Ballet during the summertime.

Amanda Morgan: Yeah. Basically my friend that ended up moving to New Jersey-- I was still at my old dance studio during this time, I was about 13 years old, and my friend was like “I have an audition for the School of American Ballet” and I was like “Oh. I don’t really think I know what that is but I know it’s in New York” and so all my family’s actually-- lives-- they all live in New York, they all immigrated there from Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic, so I always wanted to go to New York, always wanted to dance in New York. So I heard the fact that it was in New York and I auditioned and it turned out my friend didn’t get in and then I got in and I was like “Well, I think I should go” <laughs> and then I went and it was really an-- such an amazing experience. It was so great to just be in the city and also be at such a high-caliber school. I ended up meeting-- a few of my suitemates/roommates in summer course were from Pacific Northwest Ballet School so they told me that I should go and audition for the school because they knew my mom wasn’t going to let me stay year round at the School of American Ballet so right after that, I guess a month after the summer, I auditioned for Pacific Northwest Ballet and got in and started at the school.

Jo Reed: You apprenticed at Pacific Northwest Ballet and then you were asked to join the company. Can you tell me about that moment? That must have been so big.

Amanda Morgan: Yes. Honestly, with my apprenticeship-- getting my apprenticeship was-- it’s an insane story because <laughs> the day that Peter told another colleague of mine that she got her apprenticeship I broke my foot and that--

Jo Reed: Peter is the artistic director.

Amanda Morgan: Yes, Peter Boal. So Peter Boal told another colleague of mine after a school matinee show that we were doing as professional division students that she got hired and I was like “Oh, well, there is the apprenticeship contact and I’m getting it,” and that same day I actually broke my foot so I was like “I think I’m going to have to quit” so I was like “All of this work and for what? I just think that nothing is going to work out because I would-- I had a broken fifth metatarsal and I really-- I landed it really, really badly. So they thought they were going to have to do-- put a screw in my foot and all of these things and they put me in this red cast <laughs> so that’s kind of what happened in-- around March in 2016, and that same day I decided to walk on a broken foot and go see Bernie Sanders speak because I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity <laughs> but-- it’s just a funny story to me-- but I-- basically I e-mailed Peter and Denise Bolstad who’s in charge of the school and asked them, “Is there a way that you can talk to artistic directors for me or see if I-- there’s a possibility that I could get a job somewhere?” because there are other companies interested in me at the time. And so then I went in a week later to Peter’s office, cast on my foot <laughs> on his desk and he said that he was going to save an apprenticeship contract for me and that he was just waiting for the right moment and that he would let me start when I healed up, which was honestly the most amazing thing especially because there were so many people in my class that were so talented-- so, so talented. So to take that risk of hiring me even though I was injured, not knowing when I would get back-- when I’d be able to start with the company he still did it and so it’s one thing that I appreciate so much about him and I know that he believes in me because of that moment especially. And then with the corps contract I think it was just-- at PNB we have a-- he’s a little bit more-- you’re not going to just fire an apprentice I think. Peter is very-- I don’t know-- he’s just very kind and really wants-- people that he hires he’s intending for them to stay in the company. He’s not intending to fire them; he’s not testing them like that. So I think that I wasn’t as scared to hopefully get a corps contract but once I finally saw it in front of me it was kind of just this “Okay, whoo. Now I can kind of calm down. I can kind of start my career and get into it because apprentice year is kind of-- it can be all over the place for some people kind of trying to figure out where you fit in and how you’re going to do and just learning the law of the place <laughs> so-- yeah.

Jo Reed: How was it for you fitting in because while 26 percent of the dancers at PNB are people of color you’re the only black female dancer--

Amanda Morgan: Yeah, that—

Jo Reed: --and you’re five foot ten.

Amanda Morgan: <laughs> Yeah. It was definitely a process and around that time I wasn’t five foot ten; I was I think like five foot eight and a half but I grew an inch and a half in my apprentice year so I was falling all over the place <laughs> my first year in the company. It was so embarrassing but I was like “You know what. I’ll just have to let it go.” I kept getting taller and I was like “All right. We’re going to just have to honestly retrain everything.” There were definitely moments I wasn’t cast as well as the other two girls that got in with me because they were shorter and they fit in the corps more; they fit in with the other dancers. I stood out a lot so I think that was hard for me because I was like “I’m-- I joined this company and I’m not really dancing that much. I want to dance” so that was certainly hard but I was really grateful. My apprentice year I was even closer to Lindsi Dec and Karel Cruz. I even went to their house for Thanksgiving and things so they really just-- really supported me and looked out for me in the company and it’s something that I really appreciate in the beginning of my career.

<crew talk>

Jo Reed: It seems to me that you join the corps and you have two tasks. You obviously want to be the best dancer you can be and in order to dance you need to fit in as part of the corps so I wonder if those two things are not always aligned.

Amanda Morgan: I think for someone like me it’s definitely not. <laughs> I think eventually I learned how to tone down my dancing in a way that didn’t necessarily tone my artistry down but it just made me look cleaner so that I would fit in a little bit more with my lankiness, but then when it comes to just looking different and choreographers coming in there were a lot of times that choreographers didn’t even cast me at all because I just stood out too much and they said I wasn’t right for the part; I wasn’t right for this. So that was kind of what I was experiencing the first two years in the corps. Even now to this day I still experience it but especially during that time it was just hard because it was-- I kept getting all of these nos or you’re not enough this, you’re not enough that, and I kept seeing other people who have passed me and I was like “I don’t know if I’m going crazy but I think I’m really talented and it doesn’t-- it’s not adding up to me why I’m not getting these opportunities when I finish a show or something and I have audience members coming up to me and saying, “Oh, you were so wonderful. I could pick you right out of the corps. It really just made my night.” And so I was like “If I’m able to do that for audience members, why don’t they want to give me more featured roles or why don’t they want to showcase me more?” and I think it was from there that I kind of started thinking if people aren’t going to make stuff for me I can’t lay around. I know I’m young but I’m going to just make it myself.” That’s kind of where I was at. <laughs>

Jo Reed: You didn’t waste any time. You became a member of the company in 2017 and in 2018 you choreographed your first work for PNB.

Amanda Morgan: Yeah, definitely. That work is-- holds a big place in my heart because I think that-- it was titled “Cages” and it kind of just-- I made it with a lot of PDs but I was only a year older than them-- some of them so a lot of them I kind of either grew up with or they were my friends so I kind of got to really make a piece on my friends and showcase them, and something about that experience felt so good and so fulfilling because I’d wished that someone would have really done that for me being in the company. And there’s been moments but I don’t think to give someone a narrative and say “I want you to put yourself into this and what is it that you kind of want to tell an audience” it hasn’t happened to me yet. So it- it’s a fulfilling thing to be able to do that for other people, especially people younger than you.

Jo Reed: What’s a PD?

Amanda Morgan: A PD is a professional division student so basically the school goes from level one to level eight and then after that there’s the professional division, which is students from all over so it’s not just the PNB School, so usually it’s about 40-some students and from there that is the pool of people that Peter picks who will get hired into the company. So for me there were four out of about eighteen people in my level-eight class. There were four of us that were chosen to be in the professional division and the rest were people from all over the country-- all over the world, and then after that I did that program for two years and within the second year he hired me and another one of my colleagues out of the 40 people.

Jo Reed: Can you describe the difference in the way you feel when you’re creating a dance and when you’re dancing a work created by somebody else?

Amanda Morgan: That is a great question. <laughs> I think that I feel somewhat more fulfilled because I know that even though the audience is not necessarily seeing me when I’m creating a work, they’re not seeing me on stage, I-- they’re seeing what I want to say; they’re seeing my ideas, my brain, the way I think. I think a lot of people were somewhat shocked with my pieces at first because they can be a little bit more toned down; they’re not as kind of wild as I can be in the roles I’ve been given. And so people are like “Oh, it’s a little bit softer or a little bit less movement-wise” and I was like “Well, I’m a multifaceted human, I’m not just this wild dancer that attacks everything,” but also with being a dancer I think that it’s wonderful-- it feels wonderful to have someone look at you and want to make something on you; that is-- I think every dancer can agree with that. So when that time happens it feels great but I would love eventually to have someone want to make something on me that shows my more vulnerable side, my softer side, my more feminine side. I think that black women especially we tend to get kind of pulled in in being strong and fierce and all that and then we can’t break out of that so that’s part of the reason why choreographing feels really nice too because I can work around anything I want. I can have it be more harsh or more soft or whatever it is.

Jo Reed: How do you work with the dancers that you make work on?

Amanda Morgan: Aah. Okay. So I’ve always done this: Whenever I start a piece I have an interview session so when I say “interview session” it’s basically I just ask them questions about either something that’s on my mind, a topic, whether it’s “What does it feel like to be an adolescent during this time?” That was one thing I asked all the students and I asked them well, how they were feeling, how they felt like people saw them and how they wanted people to see them and we kind of just talked about that, exchanged ideas that way. It was very collaborative in that sense because I think that a lot of times especially in ballet companies or in companies that you kind of have to rush and just learn the work or just make it there’s not enough talking about what we’re actually doing and why we’re doing it and the ideas that are there, at least the dancers. They don’t get enough time to really always talk about that type of stuff and really indulge in that so I wanted to be able to give my dancers a space to talk about that and to do that as much as they could because I think that really takes a piece from being good or great to being excellent.

Jo Reed: You wrote very shortly after you began your first work as a choreographer that, and I’m quoting you, “Life has shown me that if you don’t see what you want to see around you create it”-- and you’ve done this in various ways both in and out of dance.

Amanda Morgan: Yeah. I’m just trying to do what I would have wanted when I was younger, what I would have wanted to see and also all of us being artists even though it is very much a personal individual thing when it comes to our careers I think that we have to really think about the community, the arts community, the community in general especially during hard times; the arts is what always brings a community out of hard times in a way. It gives them hope, it lets them contemplate what’s going on, it lets them reflect on what’s going on, and so personally I want my career to be that for whoever and whatever I can.

Jo Reed: You’re an artist and you’re an activist. I think that’s fair. Correct?

Amanda Morgan: Yeah. It’s so weird hearing “activist” because I’ve always-- I think I’ve always just grown up-- I’ve been the type person that I get in trouble when I stand up for other people like in school or-- I’ve always been the one <laughs> so when hearing “activist” I was like “I guess I am but it just feels like”-- I’m like “I just feel like it’s important to stand up for people that can’t necessarily stand up for themselves and to really believe in justice and all of that.” <laughs>

Jo Reed: You’ve spoken at rallies and you’ve also called out the ballet world for a lack of racial inclusion.

Amanda Morgan: Yeah.

Jo Reed: Has PNB been supportive of you in your outspokenness?

Amanda Morgan: No. Honestly, they- they’re probably the best company that’s doing this work in the United States at least ballet company-wise I will say because I-- in the beginning I was a little disappointed, I’m not going to lie. After George Floyd’s death and all the protests, there was a hesitation before PNB responded. I think they didn’t know what to say, they didn’t want to offend anyone or people were thinking too much about the donors or what people are going to think. And I remember I yelled. I yelled at Peter Boal, I yelled at Ellen Walker because I started a whole mentorship program for the school with one of my colleagues, Ceci Iliesiu, so we were talking to students almost every day for an hour, different levels, just checking in on them, checking in on their mental health, giving them any resources that we could. And so for me to be doing that and volunteering so much of my time and this was during lay-offs at PNB; it was honestly a slap in the face for them not to say anything, and it took me going out into the streets for the first protests when literally everything was on fire basically <laughs> for people to even contact me and ask me if I was okay. But luckily, there’s people in the organization that are part of the DEI committee, which I am also part of, but they’re doing a lot of great work. They’re reaching out to not just people with NPB but community members that actually do D&I work and they’re listening-- they’re actually listening. They’re not speaking on behalf of, they’re listening, and I don’t think I can say the same-- that that’s happening in the same way in other ballet companies. I don’t think it is.

Jo Reed: I’m sure you’ve thought about this. What do you think ballet companies need to do going forward to address issues of diversity, of inclusion, of equity?

Amanda Morgan: Yeah. The thing is it’s so layered, right?

Jo Reed: Yeah.

Amanda Morgan: So I think everyone just keeps thinking oh, we’re thinking we need to have more dancers of color and I was like “That’s not enough honestly.” It’s not enough. It’s not enough to just have a D&I coordinator or whatever. I think that’s a good start—

Jo Reed: And that’s diversity and inclusion.

Amanda Morgan: Yes, diversity and inclusion, but I think that we need to actually have people of color in the front of the room. How are dancers of color that are coming into these companies going to feel when everyone in the front of the room, everyone that is either choreographing on them or telling them what to do is still not a person of color? Nothing is going to really change because still all those people that are there are upholding white supremacy in a way, not directly obviously, I hope not, but you know what I mean. There’s not going to be a big enough shift. There needs to be a bigger shift.

Jo Reed: Instead of white being seen as normative.

Amanda Morgan: Yes, exactly. So I think that obviously we need to have more board members of color. We need to have artistic directors of color, executive directors of color—

Jo Reed: Choreographers.

Amanda Morgan: Oh, choreographers I think is probably one of the most important ones in my opinion because I think still the majority of people creating work are white men; even if it’s about-- even if it’s work that’s about a different type of person or culture or whatever it’s still usually made by a white man, and I find it really odd because I’m like “How do you have the-- how can you make a work about something when you have- haven’t even experienced that, haven’t even done research on it?” So I think it’s so important to have just a very diverse group of choreographers and not just-- I think a lot of people they’re like “Oh, we just need more women choreographers” but at the end of the day most of the women choreographers are still white” so is that really-- yes, that’s a little bit going ahead but it’s still holding back so many other people, still not giving the opportunity to so many other people. So we need more women of color choreographers, we need more men of color choreographers, queer men, queer women, all of it. <laughs>

Jo Reed: It really strikes me, and I’d really love to know what you think, that we’re in this moment of pause because of the pandemic and we all know the way it’s been devastating to the performing arts because that’s what we’re talking about, but it’s also a moment of pause and obviously things are going to have to shift even when we get to the other side of this. I think things are going to look very different so I think it can be a really fertile moment to address these concerns.

Amanda Morgan: I definitely agree. I just think that because of this pause, because of the fact that we’re not able to just go and do whatever we want, it’s helping us rethink how we approach everything, what type of work we’re making, what we were even doing in the past-- thinking about what we were even doing in the past. I think ballet companies especially they’re just always rushing, getting out all these different works or works that they’ve already done, well-known works because it’s what makes them money. Obviously, it’s also-- they’re also great works but I just think they do what works for them and when this happened it kind of shut all of that down and I think when we get back they’re not going to be able to do that same thing because we have to think about what is this next generation going to be like, even my generation. We have TikTok; we have social media. We have all of these access ports to social media in a way that a lot of the generations before us never even had so if we continuously make works that are just straight white narratives or are just old classics all the time we’re going to lose money. Ballet’s going to slowly die; it’s not going to become relevant because every other art form-- literally every other art form has adapted. They have a broader sense of stories and narratives and ballet doesn’t; they’re still so far behind other art forms and there’s no reason that we should be when we have all the resources to be.

Jo Reed: You have choreographed work that was performed onstage in front of an audience but then you’ve also choreographed a piece like your piece “Musing” and that was choreographed to be filmed so I’m very curious about how that changes the way you conceptualize and work.

Amanda Morgan: Yeah. I think that’s something I’ve really been realizing a lot in this pandemic but even before the pandemic so a show that I had at Northwest Film Forum in February of 2020 I also-- I had live dance but I also had a dance film in the middle of the live dancing because it was in a theater so I just kind of had the screen rolled down and then this dance film was played so that was-- it was really fun to play around with that but I actually realized through that that I really liked making dance for film because I think there’s actually more freedom in a way of getting the audience to feel a certain type of way because there’s so many tricks that a camera can do and so many ideas that a camera can convey that sometimes being on a live stage you can’t. So that’s been a really fun process to kind of just learn and work and kind of explore that type of world that a lot of us aren’t used to at all. Also film I think it just reaches more people so that is part of the reason why I- I’m more drawn to film because I want more people to see it and not necessarily have to pay as much money <laughs> to go to a theater like looking back in the past because then I had all of these different people from different communities reaching out to me and saying, “Hey, I saw your work. Thank you so much for making that” and I was like “I’m just happy you were able to see it. I’m happy you were able to see dance in a different way, in a way that you feel that actually represents you” because I think it’s super important.

Jo Reed: Also with “Musings” I was wondering with that piece you were overtly expressing your activism and your politics through that dance.

Amanda Morgan: Yeah. I I think I realized that the basis of everything that I have always wanted to do is being there for my community, making art for my community, speaking out for my community. With “Musings” it was-- especially in the time <laughs> that we were in I felt I couldn’t make any other type of piece. I couldn’t just make something that was pretty for no reason; it just didn’t seem right to me to do that. And I specifically wanted to work with Nia Minor because I had never choreographed on a black woman; I’d never worked and collaborated with a black woman because PNB doesn’t have any other ones. So it was such a great moment to be able to really collaborate with her and she’s honestly just amazing, so incredibly smart, so incredibly talented, equally as talented with dance as she is with film and all of that so it was just a great process.

Jo Reed: You also created an organization called The Seattle Project.

Amanda Morgan: Yeah.

Jo Reed: Tell me about that.

Amanda Morgan: Yeah. So it all started actually when I was 17, turning 18 so my first year in the professional division program. I was with my roommate and I was like “We should just make some works in different places in Seattle and make a video and share it with everyone” because at the-- a lot of professional division students they don’t get to perform all the time because it’s-- usually you perform corps roles with the company but only a few people do so I was like “I’m going to just-- let’s just dance-- let’s just go out and dance and show people dancers because” I was like “I’m not seeing enough live dance in the streets. It would be good to see it in public places.” And luckily the studio that I grew up at, which is Dance Theatre Northwest, so it’s in University Place right outside of Tacoma, we used to dance at farmers’ markets, at nursing homes, at schools so my teacher was very, very-- saw bringing the arts to the community as a very, very important thing and I think-- I’m happy that I grew up in that kind of environment because that’s still instilled in me, that idea of bringing the arts to the community and making sure that every type of person feels welcome in the arts and can see themselves and can see it as a career, can see it as important-- just as important as any other career. So that’s kind of where the budding started but then it wasn’t until I took an art-history class in I guess that was 20-- late-- December of 2018 and I just kept thinking about-- I worked with making a piece-- a small piece off of a painting in class because we had an assignment that we could do and my teacher allowed me to just make a choreography piece instead so I just did that and I realized how fun it was to kind of think about-- be inspired by other forms of art and also share with people that process. And I was like “What if I actually worked with different types of artists in Seattle and kind of interviewed them and just created this type of project that there’s new work being made that can be shown live outside for people hopefully for free and then on top of that then it’s also highlighting all of the incredible artists that we already have in Seattle and not just showing the major companies or the mainstream type of artists.” So that’s kind of where that idea came and it’s budding slowly. I feel like I have a lot of work to do to try and build it especially during this pandemic obviously.

Jo Reed: Your first presentation was in February 2020.

Amanda Morgan: Yes. Yeah, and that was great honestly. It was really such a special moment for me and I’m really grateful that I was able to kind of have that happen before the pandemic because none of us knew that that was going to happen obviously so it made me even treasure that moment even more so.

Jo Reed: In the fall, you were in a virtual performance of “Red Angels” at PNB but you also danced that on the stage in front of an audience three years ago and I’m so curious to know what the difference in those experiences was.

Amanda Morgan: Oh, man, it’s different. <laughs> I think well, for one “Red Angels” the first time I did it around-- it was my first year in the corps so that was the first major principal role I got to do and it was amazing to even be considered for it. I think I was fourth cast and I wasn’t sure if I was even going to get a show so I got one show but only and I got to perform it with my best friend, Chris D’Ariano, and we did the whole thing through so there was the duets and then there was the four of us dancing together at the same time and then it was the solos, but this time around it was just the solos. So three years later, we did it virtually, just the solos, but I like the way I approached it more this time because I felt like I had the same type of energy but it was more this kind of controlled energy, not giving it all away, and I think my focus was a little bit more intensified on one thing because I knew that it was going to be on a camera rather than focusing out somewhere and trying to focus on all these people sitting in chairs. Some dancers say that it’s a little bit sad because at the end there is no one out there in the audience and you hear maybe a couple claps but you’re just bowing in silence, which is sad for sure, but I also think about this kind of moment of reflection and experience within myself during that time not having the audience there, which has been nice to kind of revisit in a way that’s remembering why I really love what I do and why I’m doing what I do.

Jo Reed: That’s a great place to end it, Amanda. Thank you so much and thank you for all the great work you do.

Amanda Morgan: Oh, of course. I mean thank you for talking to me

That is ballet dancer, choreographer and activist Amanda Morgan—

You’ve been listening to Art Works, produced at the National Endowment for the Arts. Subscribe to Art Works and then please leave us a rating on Apple because it helps people to find us. Kept up with the arts endowment by following us on twitter @neaarts or by checking out our website at For the National Endowment for the Arts, I’m Josephine Reed. Stay safe, and thanks for listening.

Amanda Morgan is in the corps of the prestigious Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) based in Seattle. PNB is one of the largest and best-regarded companies in the United States with a deep commitment to racial diversity. Although people of color comprise 26 percent of its dancers, Morgan is its only black female ballet dancer—add to that her height of five foot ten inches, and you have someone who stands out rather than fits in.  But Morgan decided long ago that “if you don’t see what you want to see around you, create it." And so she has. Finding herself not picked by choreographers, she began to create dances herself; she co-founded a mentorship program between company dancers and students at Pacific Northwest Ballet School; she began the Seattle Project, an interdisciplinary artist collective that presents performing arts to the community; and she spoke at protests in Seattle about pervasive racism—calling out the ballet community at large for its lack of racial equity. Morgan is talented, determined, and outspoken. In this podcast we talk about her love of ballet—both as a dancer and a choreographer, her appreciation for being part of the PNB family, her belief that ballet has to change and embrace real inclusion from the studio to the boardroom in order to thrive, and the work she’s done to help bring that change about.