What if somebody "” say, a really good dancer who bowed out when her arabesque became creaky "” turned her ballet brain to setting the stage for other dancers? She'd probably remember what nudged her into her best performances. She'd probably know the most talented people. She'd have a nice touch for the oldies and the nerve to try new things.

She'd be Victoria Morgan, artistic director for the Cincinnati Ballet, who began her ninth season with a new interpretation of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." "There are other versions, but this one is truly our own." Our own. When she says "our" and "we," it's not the imperial collective. It's a reflection of her collaborative nature that continually deflects praise to the dancers, to the other choreographers, to the ballet board, to the audience itself.

It's a willingness to share expenses with other ballet companies, to pull off a "Come Together Festival" blending Bach with African rhythms, to each out to school children with the same enthusiasm she has for already conscripted balletomanes.

"It's the people," Morgan says when asked about Cincinnati Ballet's steady growth. "My dancers don't roll their eyes when you ask them to do something new, something difficult. They roll up their sleeves."

She steps lightly around a dog's bed in her office in the Cincinnati Ballet's building at 1555 Central Parkway in Over-the-Rhine. "Teddy Moe," she explains. Her apricot pound poodle. Built more along the lines of a whippet herself, she does have a pouf of curly apricot hair atop her lithe five-foot-eight frame.

The light steps are a good sign. Hip replacement surgery in March is a success. She shrugs it off as a byproduct of the rigors of ballet. She has been a dancer, more or less, since she was 2 and a doctor prescribed exercise to help heal a stomach hernia. She danced until her body signaled it was time to do the work with her head.

She tried "” briefly "” other pursuits, going so far as to get a real estate license. But her love for "telling a story" hauled her back. When Cincinnati Ballet was looking for a new artistic director, she applied with impressive credentials. After an MFA at the University of Utah, she danced for Ballet West in her hometown of Salt Lake City, and then was a principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet for a decade. She followed that with another decade as resident choreographer for the San Francisco Opera. When she came here for an interview she says she got "that lovely first zinger in my stomach" when she caught sight of the city from the cut in the hill on I-75.

Shortly afterward she made the move to Cincinnati. Her husband, Mark Jones, a wind turbine developer, eventually transferred his office here.

She dedicated this season to Blanche and the late Jack Maier of the Frisch restaurant family, long-time ballet supporters and sponsors of the beloved holiday "Nutcracker" (see the Cincy Life nonprofit calendar listing for details). She said seeing Mrs. Maier's delight "was my favorite moment of the entire [opening] weekend."

That's because, to Victoria Morgan, at the helm of an excellent dance company that gets better with every season, it's always about the people.