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June 30, 2015 9:23 AM   Subscribe

Misty Copeland has been promoted to principal dancer of the American Ballet Theater, making the thirty-two year old the first Black dancer to hold such a position. posted by roomthreeseventeen (17 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
This is SUCH wonderful news. A great start to the day! Thank you.
posted by harrietthespy at 9:36 AM on June 30, 2015

YES she is so amazing!

help im having an emotion
posted by poffin boffin at 9:40 AM on June 30, 2015 [7 favorites]

With Paloma Herrera, Julie Kent and Xiomara Reyes all stepping down this year, I had a strong feeling this was going to happen.
posted by BurntHombre at 9:49 AM on June 30, 2015

Huh; somehow in my mind this had already happened.
posted by yoink at 9:56 AM on June 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

FINALLY! She's been a star (and one ABT's biggest draws) for years, and I'm so happy to see that she's now getting the official professional recognition to match her (much deserved) popular appeal. Misty Copeland photos are the go-to magazine collage materials with which my dance students plaster their notebooks and make-up cases. In a very unscientific study I conducted by glancing around the dressing room last recital, she outnumbers both Sylvie Guillem and Ashley Bouder by a ratio of 2 to 1 . So many of my students absolutely idolize her, and I am happy to encourage them to do so. She's a fantastic role model for all young dancers, and she carries the (I imagine) uncomfortable burden of being a "role model" incredibly effortlessly. So articulate and so grounded, both physically and otherwise. So refreshingly aware of what needs changing in ballet. YES!
posted by Dorinda at 9:56 AM on June 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

Oh, I love her. This is good.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:57 AM on June 30, 2015

This is great. She is fantastic, and it's long past time!
posted by rtha at 9:58 AM on June 30, 2015

I've always loved this video of her, she's so very intelligent and thoughtful about dance.

It's also really impressive to watch how (comparitively) awful her technique was when she was young, which is unsurprising given just how ridiculously late (THIRTEEEN!!!!) she started. She'd have had all the reason in the world to just shrug off technique as just more gatekeeping and move on to a form of dance that was more appreciative of her talents and potential, but instead she grasped the value of it, put in a phenomenal amount of work to get really really really really really good, and all without losing sight of what's really important and becoming obsessed by technique for technique's sake. Given how hard it is and how much dedication is required of dancers like Svetlana Zakharova or Sylvie Guillem, who have absolutely perfect bodies for ballet, what Misty has accomplished is just mind-blowing to me.

THAT SAID, she is not the first black principal dancer in ballet unless the OP means ABT specifically, although even overall there have been woefully few.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 9:59 AM on June 30, 2015 [9 favorites]

Yes, I meant ABT.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:02 AM on June 30, 2015

It's also really impressive to watch how (comparitively) awful her technique was when she was young

Who are we comparing her to, though? I mean, that's a video of her coming first in the LA Spotlight awards, and being named the "Best Young Dancer" in the LA region. If you're saying her technique at 15 is comparatively awful to her technique as a seasoned pro, then that's true but not perhaps all that surprising. If you're saying that it was "awful" by comparison to typical 15-year old dancers then you would seem to be suggesting that somehow the fix was in on that award.
posted by yoink at 10:40 AM on June 30, 2015

Who are we comparing her to, though?

Here's Natalia Osipova at 17. Sylvie Guillem at 14. Maria Kochetkova at 16. Diana Vishneva at 17; not sure of the age on this one, but this is her doing Grand Pas Classique while she was still in ballet school, maybe the best version I've ever seen, definitely top 3. Sara Mearns at 15. Alina Cojocaru at 15; same age in something more classical. Young Polina Semionova. Haven't had much luck finding any baby Zakharova performances, but here she is in class while at ballet school. A collection of 15 year old students at Vaganova, many of whom won't even graduate. Teenaged students at School of American Ballet. First 15 year old YAGP contestant on YouTube when you search for it.

This is the standard of what Misty Copeland was competing with. What she has accomplished is absolutely mind-blowing. It's completely, utterly, insanely nuts. It's like someone who never even played football until college somehow not just making it as a walk-on at a Division I school, but going on to become a starting quarterback in the NFL and win a bunch of Superbowls. If she was a man and an athlete everyone would be losing their goddamn minds over what she has accomplished. I don't think she gets nearly enough credit, I can't think of anyone who has ever come close to doing what she did in dance or in sports, it's just spectacular.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 11:35 AM on June 30, 2015 [37 favorites]

Wow, and I thought she was already a principal dancer. Good for her.
posted by fremen at 11:40 AM on June 30, 2015

I know nothing about ballet, but was really struck by Misty Copeland when she was interviewed by Diane Rhem earlier this year: A Conversation With American Ballet Theatre’s Misty Copeland. Brava!
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:53 PM on June 30, 2015

I really love how Copeland's been featured so prominently in Under Armour's advertising. Athletics for women have long been stereotyped as inferior and frivolous, and ballet's considered about as girly a sport as you can get. UA's got a tough-guy-athlete brand image; pairing that with an awesome dancer - and showing that ballet is serious business without making an obvious "look, this is a real sport too!" statement - is pretty badass.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:35 PM on June 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

I just read the Wikipedia article on her. Wow. She's had a difficult and complicated life, but she mastered ballet while bouncing around between schools and family situations and "had a 3.8/4.0 GPA through her junior year of high school". And from what I can tell, it was just a regular US public high school; it's not like she was at a special theatre school or something. And with all that, and things like custody battles and so on, she has risen to the heights of her profession. Quite extraordinary.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:38 PM on June 30, 2015

Sylvie Guillem at 14

But that video--to take just one--rather dramatically confirms my point. All those girls, including Sylvie, are notably infirm in their technique at points (there are wobbles and adjustments galore)--and they're just doing class exercises, not performing.

Copeland, at 15, seems, if anything, technically more sound in the video you linked to that Guillem at 14. And Guillem is one of the greatest ballerinas of the present day.

And, you don't really address the point I raised in my last comment. Given that Copeland came first in the competition your video is of, it seems perverse to insist that it's a video that demonstrates her relative incompetence. I mean, either it shows that she was, in fact, an extraordinary dancer already by the age of 15 or it shows that somehow the competition was fixed; which are you claiming?
posted by yoink at 9:36 AM on July 1, 2015

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