When Morgan Crum was going to Kindermusic at Highlands Ballet School, she saw the ballet dancers in the studio and decided that she wanted to dance as well. “I loved watching the big girls dance and wanted to be just like them,” she says.
Since then, she has held leadership positions in the dance company, such as fundraising coordinator, treasurer and captain. She takes ballet, pointe and contemporary classes.
“I love ballet because it combines both athleticism and the arts. Not only does dance take incredible strength and control, but it also requires grace and poise. While on stage, dancers perform difficult steps and sequences while making it look effortless. That is what sets it apart from other activities.
“Additionally, the amount of steps and positions ballet requires one to know can seem intimidating. However, there is something beautiful about always finding something new to work on. There is no point where one stops learning or has mastered everything there is to master.
“Don’t get me wrong, the requirements of being a dancer can definitely be overwhelming, but I love that there is always room for improvement and a challenge.
“Dance is also an amazing way to tell a story. Like Martha Graham once said, ‘The body says what words cannot.’ Dance is a universal language. A person could travel to many different ballets in various countries with their own languages and still understand the story of a ballet. This makes dance a beautiful form of expression that everyone can understand,” Morgan says.
She has been in numerous productions with Highlands Ballet. Some include “The Nutcracker,” “A Christmas Carol,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Alice in Wonderland.” Her favorite show is “Gershwin by George.”
“There are so many different styles and attitudes in ‘Gershwin,’ and the music is unmatched. I loved having different emotions and styles every time I come on stage. I also love all the roles in ‘Nutcracker,’ there really is no bad one. Performing ‘Nutcracker’ almost every Christmas has become such a large part of my life that it really doesn’t feel like the holiday season without it. Even though performance time is stressful and taxing during Christmas time, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“But one of my favorite roles ever is the Ghost of Christmas Past in ‘A Christmas Carol.’ I really embodied my character, and I loved everyone I danced with. With the characterization, the choreography and the costume, the Ghost of Christmas Past was a fun and gratifying role to dance.
“I have had many different influences on my dance career. As a little girl, I always marveled at the older senior girls at the company. When class was challenging, I would picture them and remember what I was working for.
“I owe so much to Deidre and Deanna Cole for teaching and shaping me into who I am today. Miss DeeDee always gives her students both the tough love and inspiration that we need to become talented dancers. She focused on teaching her students to compete with ourselves as individuals, always striving to be better than we were the day before.
“Amanda Johnson was also a great influence on me. She always comes into class prepared and ready to improve and target exactly what the company needs to improve. She showed me my potential by believing in me, and overall helped the company grow by bringing us together as a group. Both Miss Amanda and Miss DeeDee taught me to approach problems from angles you may not suspect and to think objectively.
“Dusty Button, Tiler Peck and Misty Copeland are also huge influences for me. Each is incredibly talented in their own way. I have many more idols in the dance world, which I am lucky to have access to via the connectivity of social media and internet platforms,” she says.
Morgan just graduated from Abingdon High School, Abingdon, Virginia, and will attend Virginia Tech in the fall. She is an Explore Science (undecided) major but hopes to go into either the Wildlife Conservation or Environmental Conservation field. She plans to continue dancing and joining The Ballet Project, a company at Virginia Tech. She is the daughter of Matt and Lisa Crum.