Photo Credit: @mikofogartyfan on Facebook
Miko Fogarty fell in love with ballet at the young age of 4, and as she grew up it consumed her life. By age 9 she was already competing in international ballet competitions, and when she was 11-years-old her parents enrolled her in a homeschooling online program to accommodate her training and travel schedule. At 17-years-old she received her first company contract, although she knew that a career in ballet was not her destiny. When injury struck Fogarty, she used her recovery time to really discover who she was and what she wanted to do with her life. Now, Fogarty is telling her brave story of reinvention in a new TEDx Talk at the University of California-Berkeley, where she is currently a biology student.
In Fogarty’s TEDx Talk opening, she recalled her experience seeing the Mariinsky ballerinas 17 years ago and said the performance caused her to immediately fall in love with ballet. Ballet quickly became Fogarty's main focus, and after years of intense training, she was featured in the 2011 ballet documentary First Position. She then went on to win top prizes at competitions in Moscow and Varna at the Youth American Grand Prix. Perhaps her defining moment as a ballerina was when she was 16-years-old and won gold at the Moscow Ballet Competition, which is held every four years and considered an equivalent to the Olympics.
As pressure mounted for Fogarty, and her social media following increased tremendously, her passion for ballet was secretly dying. She received a company contract at 17-years-old with the Birmingham Royal Ballet in London, but knew ballet wasn't her dream career. She didn’t enjoy having a job where only her physical attributes were judged. Unfortunately, her unhappiness led to a serious eating disorder, and thoughts of self-harm became more appealing to her than dancing.
A year after Fogarty began dancing professionally, she broke her foot while taking a class in Japan and was forced to take two months off from ballet. This break allowed her to step away from the ballet bubble and finally discover herself. Fogarty recalled receiving a book titled “The Healthy Dancer” at a training she attended at the American Ballet Theatre and it made her realize that instead of a career in ballet she would rather help people recover from injury and illness.
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On August 23, 2016, Fogarty attended her first college class and immediately felt like she was in the right place. Now, as a student at the University of California-Berkeley, she is in fact living her dream and is set to graduate next year in biology.
Although Fogarty gave up her professional dance career, ballet is still very much a part of her life. She teaches private lessons and master classes and even still takes classes on her own. Fogarty says that she’s very grateful for ballet because it allowed her to travel all over and taught her hard work at a very young age. It also taught her how to be disciplined and how to push past her comfort zone.
The biggest takeaway from Fogarty’s TEDx Talk is that it’s never too late to reinvent yourself if you aren’t happy with your life. “Be true to yourself and don’t be afraid to switch careers just because you’ve done ballet for so long or worked so hard at it. You can have as much ballet in your life as you want- you can have a lot or a little,” Fogarty said in an interview with Pointe Magazine.
On behalf of ballet fans everywhere, I have to thank Fogarty for sharing her journey of rediscovery and reinvention because it will most definitely touch the lives of many aspiring ballerinas. Thank you Miko for your honesty, your bravery, and your perseverance.