In the Loop with Misty Copeland - theloop21's Blog
In the Loop with Misty Copeland
IN THE LOOP WITH… Misty Copeland
“It’s so easy to feel like race isn’t an issue anymore because of Obama but I really still feel like it is a big issue. I feel like it’s something I see and deal with everyday in my field.”- Misty Copeland
Although her own career was severely limited due to her race, when film legend Lena Horne passed away she was credited with paving the way for countless black actresses and singers working today. But one corner of entertainment still looks very much like it did when Horne struggled to break through more than fifty years ago. According to an analysis by the New York Times there have been only two Black women in history who have achieved the rank of principal at any of America’s most prominent classical ballet companies. Widespread speculation says Misty Copeland, a soloist with the American Ballet Theatre (ABT), will become the third.
During our chat, Copeland, ABT’s first Black soloist in more than thirty years, noted that Black male ballet dancers seem to have found wider acceptance. While observers have chalked this up to the scarcity of male dancers in general, Copeland goes further.
“Black men have been principal dancers at major companies for years but they’re not the ballet. The ballerina is what symbolizes the ballet and I think it’s hard for a lot of people to see Black women, who they may consider too strong or too harsh,” in certain roles Copeland said.
“The classical ballet world is all about tradition. The families that support the ballet don’t want to see something that they’re not used to seeing and I think that a Black woman in the role of ballerina is just too much for them to take.”
But Copeland is not deterred. While her fans, (including actress Victoria Rowell) speculate that she might soon become the first Black principal dancer in ABT’s seventy-year history, Copeland already has her eyes set on other goals.
“I’m really into fashion and am in the process of launching a dancewear line in August,” and contrary to the stereotypes about ballerinas she added, “I love food,” and “my favorite CD at the moment is [the rapper] Drake.”
Claim to Fame: Soloist with the American Ballet Theatre, currently performing at the Metropolitan Opera House now through July 10th. Ticket information can be found here: http://www.abt.org/
Affiliation: American Ballet Theatre
Education: Southbay Ballet and American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company (for a year)
Currently Resides (city or region): New York, NY