Misty Copeland is now a principal dancer for the American Ballet Theater:
“Even as her promotion was celebrated by her many fans, it raised all-too-familiar questions about why African-American dancers, particularly women, remain so underrepresented at top ballet companies in the 21st century, despite the work of pioneering black dancers who broke racial barriers in the past. And it showed how media and communications have changed in dance, with Ms. Copeland deftly using modern tools — an online ad she made for Under Armour has been viewed more than 8 million times — to spread her fame far beyond traditional dance circles, drawing new audiences to ballet.”
It took individuals both within and outside of ballet to publicly support Misty Copeland for this to happen, imho.
And let me also add: IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME. For more ballet trailblazers of color, please see this post: http://wikkidsexycool.com/2015/02/11/dance-trailblazers/
So, as I ready HUI for release, an ebook that features a fictional African American ballerina going for the Holy Grail like Miss Copeland, please take note that at this moment, Misty is the one and only. That’s right. For whatever reason, Miss Copeland is the only black woman in the role of principal dancer in a major US ballet company.
Outside of Meredith’s office a number of dance students lingered in the hallway, waiting for their classes to begin. Some used the walls to support their weight as they stretched. Others utilized the comfort of the crowded floor. Making her way among the maze of human parts, Imani was almost mowed down by a younger group of students bursting out of one of the classrooms. Their excited chatter and giggles reminded her of the tiny dance academy she’d once attended. It was encouraging to see the diversity of the group and their excitement at seeing her.
“That’s Imani,” she heard one little girl whisper to the others as if Imani was on the cusp of greatness. “She’s so beautiful! I wanted to come here after I saw her perform at my grammar school,” the same little girl said, apparently not realizing how far her voice carried.
While that statement put more spring in Imani’s step, inwardly she berated herself. Just because her personal timeline didn’t match up with the Graham Company’s picks it didn’t mean she was a total failure. If she really wanted her ego stroked then just calling home would do it. Imani never got tired of how often her mom and dad gushed about their little girl landing with a professional ballet company. They were so supportive, even though the holidays didn’t afford her the time off to fly back for a visit. For most ballet companies the holidays meant more performances. At twenty-six Imani had a lifetime of advice from a mother who’d dreamed of joining Alvin Ailey’s dance troupe. So she knew exactly what her mom would say if she decided to pack it in and gave up on her dream.
“Imani, you’ve got to visualize what you want and then claim it.” Her mom always started off with this advice whenever she’d call home to complain. “I didn’t decide on Sojourner for your middle name just to be trendy. Do I have to remind you of everything your namesake accomplished?”
“No Mom,” Imani would answer. “I know all about Sojourner Truth.”
“Well then you better act like it. Don’t make me have to get on a plane and come up there to kick your ass in gear, ‘cause you know I’ll do it.”
Imani couldn’t help laughing to herself. Her mom would act so bad ass at times. And though Tamar Fairchild wasn’t imposing in height or weight, she always said what she meant and meant what she said. Ballet lessons, pointe shoes and tutus weren’t cheap, and with three other siblings somehow her mom managed to convince the whole family that Imani’s dream was attainable. Squaring her shoulders, Imani made a beeline back to the rehearsal area, vowing to channel some of her mother’s can-do spirit.