Dear President Pogue:
We, the current members of the Orchesis Dance Company, are writing to you in a most respectful and humble manner to address our concern about the temporary loss of our Artistic Director, Dianne Maroney-Grigsby. This has the greatest affect on us and we ask that you read this letter with an open mind before determining your final decision regarding our instructor, mentor, friend, and mother away from home.
It is understood that you and other administration are concerned about the accusations in regards to hazing for the health and safety of students and to protect the University’s name and reputation. Never has Mrs. Maroney-Grigsby or members of the Orchesis Dance Company hazed anyone to be a part of our organization. If you are not aware, Mrs. Maroney’s program is the only one in the world that allows anyone, regardless of dance experience, weight, skin complexion, gender, or race to be a member without any audition or pre-requisites. Her program allows for all of us to have an opportunity to perform not only on the football field but in concert performances throughout the country.
We realize that if we had only one single audition process such as the ones that are held at Jackson State University, Southern University and other SWAC schools, that there would be a chance that many of us would have not have been selected due to the strict dance and weight requirements. We are appreciative of the program that Mrs. Maroney created that allows those of us who were not prepared in August due to our dance ability or weight to have an opportunity to audition later in the season so that we too may have a chance to perform in front of our family and friends. Mrs. Maroney teaches us technique so that when the time comes, we are ready to represent Grambling to the best of our ability. This is unlike most other schools in the SWAC that do not have the same discipline. And since Mrs. Maroney has been suspended, we have not been able to continue with our dance instruction and have suffered tremendously.
President Pogue, Mrs. Maroney-Grigsby is a trained professional dancer from the world renowned and respected Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre.
Many of us came to Grambling solely to have the opportunity to work with her directly and to gain the national respect that comes with being taught by an award winning dancer. She goes out of her way to not only be our dance director during our college years but to also prepare us for the professional world of dance. We have auditions for every game. This prepares us for the future auditions of the professional companies that most of us aspire to join. We are technically trained in ballet, jazz, and modern dance, and we are encouraged to take care of our bodies. She always stresses how important it is for dancers to eat healthy and exercise. A good dancer needs stamina, strength, a good diet, and to look the part. By practicing this regimen we are already prepared in more ways than most dancers on a collegiate level. This helps many of us have successful careers in the field of performing arts.
Being weighed on a regular basis is nothing unexpected or degrading. It is stated under the Orchesis section on the gram.edu website that dancers will be weighed in on a regular basis. “Weight will be checked each Monday.
Body weight will be determined by your height and bone structure.” It goes further to suggest helpful tips to lose weight, such as cutting back on the intake of sugar and carbohydrates. Mrs. Maroney-Grigsby has never forced extreme dieting on any of us dancers nor has she ever encouraged it.
Numerous times she has stressed to the entire dance company how important it is for us to eat before practice so that we stay energized and able to function. If a dancer has not eaten and is fatigued comes to practice, she will tell them take a seat and to not come to practice again without eating.
Any dancer that makes the personal decision to take dangerous and unhealthy methods to lose weight does so at their own free will and risk. Also, to address the comments that were stated in the Gramblinite, let us make clear, in no way does Mrs. Maroney tear down, belittle, degrade, or humiliate us as dancers and nor does she tell us to “eat in moderation” she tells us to splurge in moderation! By encouraging us to take care of our bodies builds us up to be better dancers, prepares us for the professional world of dance, and boosts self confidence.
The complaint letters you received were not filled with factual information but malicious accusations. They were created to damage the career and reputation of Mrs. Dianne Maroney-Grigsby and to tarnish the image of us as the members and dancers of the Orchesis Dance Company. The content of those letters came from a former and a present dancer’s mother who have resentment because they failed to meet the requirements of the Orchesis Dance Company. Dr. Pogue, this public accusation has been an embarrassment for us because people think that we are doing harmful things to participate in the company, which is NOT true. If Mrs. Maroney-Grigsby’s suspension is upheld it will signal to the world that we, as members of the company, participate in such harmful practices and this also is NOT true.
We all have worked hard to have healthy and fit bodies and it is upsetting to all of us that the administration thinks that we are taking shortcuts to fitness by participating in unhealthy weight loss methods. This accusation undermines and diminishes our hard work and is not appreciated.
In conclusion, we ask that you review the facts and our requests before tarnishing the reputation of someone who has helped Grambling State University make history since 1983. Our requests are that Dianne Maroney-Grigsby is given back her title as the Artistic Director of the Grambling State University Orchesis Dance Company and Faculty Instructor for dance and that the Orchesis Dance Company is removed from the Division of Student Affairs and placed under the Division of Academic Affairs in the area of Speech and Theatre. We feel that this is a more appropriate place for our group to be managed because several dancers are receiving the minor in dance which is in that department. This includes the members receiving a scholarship from the Orchesis Dance Company with the requirement of being trained under Mrs. Maroney. Because of this requirement they are at risk of losing this scholarship if Mrs. Maroney is not reinstated. We also feel that we would get better support from a department that understands and more importantly supports us and the arts.
We also request that Mrs. Maroney be reinstated immediately, within 48 hours, and that a public letter is submitted to us and the Gramblinite clearing her and us of any wrongdoing in this manner. We thank you for reading this letter in advance and taking all into consideration.
The Orchesis Dance