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That Ballerina Fired For Being Too Tall? She’s Headlining A New Ballet Company That’s Making Diversity Its Focus

Apr 25, 2017

Pennsylvania Ballet principal dancer Sara Michelle Murawski will be dancing next season for the American National Ballet in Charleston, S.C.

Sara Michelle Murawski, the ballerina fired from the Pennsylvania Ballet in December because she was too tall, has been hired by a new company -- one that plans to highlight diversity.

The American National Ballet will open its first season in the fall in Charleston, S.C., and Murawski was its first dancer announced.

The Pennsylvania Ballet had notified her on the day after her final performance as the Sugar Plum Fairy that she was not being kept on here. Her contract runs out in May.

She will join the Charleston company for the 2017-18 season as a principal dancer.

“They want to do a lot of different [things and be] more supportive of dancers,” Murawski said about American National Ballet, “so that we will have a better lifestyle and standard of living than most of the dancers everywhere do. And the thinking behind that is so that we will be inspired to the highest level we can attain.”

American National Ballet executive director Ashley Benefield, who is 5’9”, said she felt empathy with Murawski, who is 5’10”.

“I was also a tall dancer,” said Benefield. “I dealt with literally the exact same thing in my career, and it was really hard.

“It doesn’t have to be that way,” she said. “Balanchine had it right: Tall, leggy dancers can be absolutely stunning, and Sara really is. We can showcase what America is really about: diversity, a melting pot.”