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The Sugarless Plum: A Ballerina's Triumph Over Diabetes

Release date: February 06, 2011

Photo by Mark Harmel

Zippora Karz — an educator, former soloist with the New York City Ballet, and spokesperson in the fight against juvenile diabetes — will come to Goucher College as a Dance Department's guest artist in residence on Sunday, February 6, from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Hyman Forum of the Athenaeum.

She will conduct a lecture and discussion on her personal journey through the world of professional dance, the challenges she faced as a high-level athlete with Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes, and her work advocating for healthy living. She also will sign copies of her memoir, "The Sugarless Plum: A Ballerina's Triumph Over Diabetes."

These events are free and open to the public, but reservations are appreciated. Make a reservation online at http://tickets.goucher.edu. For more information, contact the Goucher College Dance Department at 410-337-6390.

After learning to dance in Thailand during her father's army tour, Karz studied at George Balanchine's School of the American Ballet, the training ground for the New York City Ballet.

At 20, she danced as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, and at 20, she danced in company co-founder Jerome Robbins' Goldberg Variations. Karz was devastated when she was diagnosed with diabetes at age 21.

Failed attempts at self-healing were followed by insulin injections and blood tests throughout her demanding routine of classes, rehearsal, and evening performances — all in secret to conceal the severity of her illness. After six years of touring internationally, despite frightening fluctuations in blood sugar levels, she remained in the corps de ballet and then was promoted to soloist and performed with the New York City Ballet until 1999.

Upon retiring after 16 years of performing, Karz now serves as a teacher and repetiteur for the George Balanchine Trust, rehearsing and staging Balanchine's choreography for a host of national and international dance companies. She is also a diabetes spokesperson and educator who regularly addresses major diabetes conferences and organizations worldwide. 

Diabetes organizations with which she is affiliated include Children with Diabetes, the American Diabetes Association, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and Taking Control of Your Diabetes.

Karz also works with the Malibu Compost LLC, a California-based company specializing in biodynamic composts and mulches designed to repair and replenish the earth, to promote healthy foods and sustainable farming methods.

She has written frequently for the Huffington Post and has published a chapter opening for Conquering Diabetes by Dr. Anne Peters and "Dancing with Diabetes" for Dance magazine.

Her appearance at Goucher is sponsored by the college's Dance Department.