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La Scala fires ballerina over frank talk of anorexia

February 6, 2012 |  7:45 am


An act of whistle blowing has landed a ballerina at La Scala in Milan, Italy, in big trouble. The famed company has reportedly told her to hand in her pink tutu in exchange for a pink slip.

Mariafrancesca Garritano, who has danced with the company for about 17 years, has  been fired following an interview with a British weekly in which she said that one in five dancers at La Scala Theatre Ballet suffers from anorexia. The interview, which ran in Britain's Observer, contains an unflattering account of how the company pressures its dancers to lose weight.

"Some dancers were rushed to hospital to be fed through tubes, others were hit by depression and still need counselling today," Garritano was quoted as saying in the publication. She also said that seven out of 10 dancers at the academy had their menstrual cycles stop as they competed to eat less.

Garritano said that extreme dieting problems aren't confined to La Scala, but are found throughout the profession.

A spokesman for La Scala told the Guardian newspaper that the company today is no longer similar to what Garritano says she experienced 15 years ago. "Educational methods used then are not used today and the school now has a course on nutrition," he said.

In her original interview with the Observer, which ran in December, Garritano said she used to get by on an apple and a yogurt a day.

"The chance of getting fired has crossed my mind," she was quoted in the Guardian. "But I love La Scala, I care about it, and that's why I really hope things can change."


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Photo: La Scala in Milan, Italy. Credit: Paco Serinelli/AFP/Getty Images