At age 13, Misty Copeland was attending the Boys and Girls Club of San Pedro, California, when a dance instructor asked if she’d be interested in participating in a ballet class.
At age 15, Misty was one of the top ballet prospects in California and was being profiled in a PBS documentary on a state wide arts competition.
At age 17, Misty was in New York City and a member of the American Ballet Theatre, one of the world’s leading ballet companies. She danced the title role of the Firebird at the Metropolitan Opera House, making her the first black woman to play that signature character in a major ballet company. Making this accomplishment that much more impressive, she performed this part with six stress fractures in her shin.
This journey would have been unique in the world of dance on its own. Learning ballet at such an “advanced” age and making it to a premiere company made Misty an anomaly. But Misty was also a black woman with womanly curves which, based on the standard popularized by the father of American ballet, George Balanchine, meant she didn’t have the body for ballet. The skinny, long limbed swan with a thin neck and European features has been the ballet standard for half a century.
Misty’s career is a challenge to every stereotype of what the ballerina symbolizes and should be.
A BALLERINA’S TALE, directed by Nelson George, will look at the values of a European cultural expression that has tried to maintain its values in the face of an aging audience base and its increasing irrelevance to mainstream culture. Misty’s life embodies a number of themes that speak to the larger culture and her personal challenges. Race, body image and Euro-centric perspective are mixed in with her own physical challenges.
Misty will narrate the film, bringing us intimately into her world. Several of Misty’s favorite ballets will be filmed in multiple camera shoots that will bring us close to dance in ways less frantic and more realistic than the popularized Hollywood film, Black Swan.
The goal is $40,000. They currently have $14,598 and 13 days to go.
Watch the trailer and DONATE here!