Sunday, April 20, 2008

A dancer's life

I've been reading Matthew Murphy's blog, Ranting Details, for about six months. I'm not sure how I found it, probably through a link from someone else's blog, but I quickly became a fan. He has a very personal, easygoing writing style and he's a pretty good photographer, too.

But writing and photography aren't Matt's first loves. By training, he's a dancer. He left his hometown of Missoula, Mont., when he was 13 to study at the North Carolina School of the Arts. Since 2004, he's been a member of the main company of the American Ballet Theatre in New York City - or at least he will be a member for a few more months.

For the past year, Matt's dance career has been on hold as he's battled the energy-sapping effects of Epstein-Barr virus. He returned home for a few months to try and improve his health, but apparently the progress has been slow. He's back in New York City now, and this weekend, he announced that as of July, he'll be removed from the ABT roster.

Here's a brief taste of what he wrote:

"With the absence of ABT, in many ways, I will be the most lost I’ve ever been. But as is typical with the universe, it has mysterious ways of teaching us lessons. EBV has informed my spirit in a way that I never would have thought possible a year ago; it has grounded me and taught me about what I want in life. Every change it has initiated has been more drastic than I ever could have anticipated, but I’m still soldiering on and defining myself by my strength of character and not by my profession for the first time in my life. No choice but to brush off the dust and start anew...I'm sure it won't be the last time."

Since I've been following his story all these months, the new really shocked and saddened me. Matt is only 22, but dancing has obviously been a big part of his life for such a long time. To have to give up something you love, something you've trained for, right at the moment when you've begun to achieve some success, well that's a level of frustration I can't even begin to imagine. I can only imagine that he's feeling a terrible sense of loss.

But Matt's not the type of person to wallow in self-pity, at least not from what I've read in his blog. He's written openly and honestly about how he feels, but he writes with humor and insight about many other topics as well, including theatre, movies, politics, and just the joys of hanging out with his friends and family. (He had a great interview earlier this month with Nick Blaemire, who's making two Broadway debuts - as a cast member in Cry-Baby and as the composer of the new musical Glory Days.)

I know Matt has parents and a sister who are terrific, and along with some great friends, they're helping him through this rough patch in his life. Through his blog, I've gotten to know some of the people who are close to Matt, and he's got a good support system in place.

I'm hoping this is only a temporary setback and Matt will find a way to dance again. In any event, I know he'll be fine. He's a talented young man, and whatever his future holds - writing, photography, choreography or something else entirely - he'll perform with passion and wit and grace.


M said...


Words cannot express what I am feeling right now after reading your "tribute."

When I started "Ranting" two years ago, I never could have imagined it having an impact outside of my close circle, and to know that you've enjoyed seeing my world, or even if I've made you smile just's been worth it.

The sense of loss, while I hope temporary, is pain like I have never experienced before. Yet it has been a time of growth in my life, and you are right to observe that I have a tremendous group of friends to love and support me through this.

I am also fortunate enough to have an extended group of cyber-friends, like you, who have stuck with me through this.

To put it most simply, and most sincerely, thank you.


Esther said...

Hi Matt,
It's my pleasure! I've been incredibly moved by your story, and I'm glad I can lend you some support. One of the things that struck me when I was looking through the profiles of the dancers on the ABT web site is how young they were when they started. So I know how much passion and energy and hard work you've put into your art. And I always look forward to seeing what you have on your blog. You've definitely made me smile more than once!