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Misty Copeland, Part Deux

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Amour, Misty's mom is white. Just poor white. In the mom's case, it's about different economic groups. Just like many poor white folk in rural Appalachia think that opera and ballet are "uppity." It's a clash of socio-economic classes, not race per se.

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If it's that's the case then what about Ashley Bouder? She was profiled in the last City Ballet reality series. She's from a very poor background in Appalachia. She's from a single mom family and grew up in a trailer park. But thanks to her teacher, Marcia Dale Weary, later Suki Schorer at SAB and Ashley's own mom (and her own determined outlook and phenomenal talent) she had support that helped her succeed.

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There are always exceptions. I was just pointing out that Misty's mom is as white as the better-off dance teachers who took Misty into their home. Economics rather than race.

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"If one wants to discuss racism, let's discuss the community that doesn't really want one of its members to succeed in a white world."

I've been lurking on this thread for some time, but this assertion really threw me back on my heels. Are you really suggesting that black people are racists who don't want to see other black people succeed in "a white world"? (And just who determined that the world is white anyway?) If not, just what "community" are you referring to?

There seems to be a lot of misinformation about Misty Copeland here. Her mother is not "poor white"; she's a middle class woman who raised six successful children, and while she is light-skinned like Misty, she is black, not white. I remember the custody issue well, as it received a lot of press at the time. Misty ' s mother had grave reservations about her daughter living with the Bradleys. Misty had to share a bedroom with their young son, which was not ideal for an unrelated teenage girl. She also served as an unpaid baby sitter at times. There is additional footage from 60 Minutes with Misty ' s siblings that didn't air, where they talk about how they felt that their family was being pulled apart by the fight over her. All kinds of people rendered opinions about how to 'save' Misty from going back to her own mother, including Gerald Arpino of all people.

Besides a personal dislike for Cindy Bradley, whom she felt looked down on her, Misty's mother was disturbed by the Bradleys attempt to bind Misty to a "management contract" that would entitle them to 20% of her earnings. As a minor, Misty lacked the capacity to enter into a contract on her own, and her push for legal emancipation was a red flag to the Copelands. Her mother hired Gloria Allred as her attorney and the matter was resolved with Misty returning home. She was enrolled into a ballet school that offered her more advanced training than she had been getting with the Bradleys. Misty's mother wasn't hostile to Misty's aspirations at all.

All this happened before Misty was sixteen. It's little wonder that she gets press coverage - that's a heck of a story. The typical American ballet soloist grew up in the suburbs, started ballet lessons at three, transferred to SAB or JKO at twelve or thirteen, became an apprentice or got into the second company at seventeen, got a contract a year later, blah, blah, blah. Pretty boring compared to Misty's journey, or Michaela DePrince's, or Amar Ramasar's. The racial angle is just the icing on the cake.

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I don't think Michaela DePrince's journey could be considered boring by any stretch of the imagination.

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Many thanks to you for speaking up, On Pointe. I did follow some of the press coverage at the time, but it's not always easy going by only press accounts in such cases to determine what went on (and I have not yet read Copeland's book).

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(And just who determined that the world is white anyway?)

I don't know who said it was, but much of the discussion here on BA has been about dancers of color in what has been and still is an overwhelmingly white ballet world.

I imagine one thing everyone here can agree on is a hope that Misty and her mother and siblings will fully reconcile if they haven't already.

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I think what On Pointe meant is fairly clear in the context of the original post (?)

"If one wants to discuss racism, let's discuss the community that doesn't really want one of its members to succeed in a white world."

I've been lurking on this thread for some time, but this assertion really threw me back on my heels. Are you really suggesting that black people are racists who don't want to see other black people succeed in "a white world"? (And just who determined that the world is white anyway?) If not, just what "community" are you referring to?

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I think it's pretty clear that America is still a "white world" to the degree that whites still have a disproportionate degree of power, and that racism towards other races still exists and still does great harm.

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I have enjoyed watching Misty grow as a dancer. I just saw her dance Peasant Pas in two performances of Giselle, and she is looking better than ever.

I'm curious how people make so much over her status/ possible promotion and whether she "deserves" it, when little was said about Hee Seo, who, in my viewings has more technical shortcomings (but is perhaps more versatile in terms of casting?) If you go to performances where Hee Seo is cast, you will see more Asians in the audience just as if you see Misty you will see more Black audience members. The difference, from my perspective, is that Misty brings out the young dancers (of all colors) who are inspired by her backstory and her pop appeal. I think this is good for ballet, kind of like what happened in the 70s with Barishnykov. Misty has a slightly curvaceous body for dance, which I think inspires a lot of girls who don't fit the stereotypical waif-type. Moreover, she was a late-starter, as far as ballet goes. I think this inspires a lot of students who didn't get to start ballet at 6 or 7, because of geographic or socioeconomic limitations.

One aspect of Misty's dancing that is overlooked is her epaulment. Her shoulders and arms are always carried beautifully. I saw her in Coppelia last year, and she was a fantastic comedic actress. I do hope that she can develop a partnership with Cornejo and though I'm not clamoring for her promotion right now (STELLLLLA!), I despise any suggestion that McKenzie would be promoting her *because* of her skin color or publicity efforts. As I said earlier, I find her much more technically assured than Hee Seo. And I wish Isabella Boylston, also a principal, would learn to control her hands and arms like Misty.

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I have enjoyed watching Misty grow as a dancer. I just saw her dance Peasant Pas in two performances of Giselle, and she is looking better than ever.

I'm curious how people make so much over her status/ possible promotion and whether she "deserves" it, when little was said about Hee Seo, who, in my viewings has more technical shortcomings (but is perhaps more versatile in terms of casting?) If you go to performances where Hee Seo is cast, you will see more Asians in the audience just as if you see Misty you will see more Black audience members. The difference, from my perspective, is that Misty brings out the young dancers (of all colors) who are inspired by her backstory and her pop appeal. I think this is good for ballet, kind of like what happened in the 70s with Barishnykov. Misty has a slightly curvaceous body for dance, which I think inspires a lot of girls who don't fit the stereotypical waif-type. Moreover, she was a late-starter, as far as ballet goes. I think this inspires a lot of students who didn't get to start ballet at 6 or 7, because of geographic or socioeconomic limitations.

One aspect of Misty's dancing that is overlooked is her epaulment. Her shoulders and arms are always carried beautifully. I saw her in Coppelia last year, and she was a fantastic comedic actress. I do hope that she can develop a partnership with Cornejo and though I'm not clamoring for her promotion right now (STELLLLLA!), I despise any suggestion that McKenzie would be promoting her *because* of her skin color or publicity efforts. As I said earlier, I find her much more technically assured than Hee Seo. And I wish Isabella Boylston, also a principal, would learn to control her hands and arms like Misty.

We seldom hear from people on this board who like aspects of Misty's dancing.

It's nice to be reminded that when judging art and artists, it's ALL just opinion, not fact.

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It's nice to be reminded that when judging art and artists, it's ALL just opinion, not fact.

Well, not ALL opinion. Elements such as balance, elevation, partnering skill, turning facility, flexibility, speed, control, build and proportion, ability (or inability) to dance in time with the music are quantifiable, even if they don't make a dancer in and of themselves.

But I'll add that virtually every ballet company I've seen has principal dancers who, in my estimation, can't dance, according to the basic dictionary definition ("to move your body in a way that goes with the rhythm and style of music that is being played"). Nearly always these individuals can execute steps, usually exceptionally, but that doesn't necessarily translate into real dancing.

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Of course there are basic skills that everyone must master before they can call themselves a ballet dancer.

But perfection of body isn't always paramount, Margot Fonteyne would never have had a career otherwise.

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I have enjoyed watching Misty grow as a dancer. I just saw her dance Peasant Pas in two performances of Giselle, and she is looking better than ever.

I'm curious how people make so much over her status/ possible promotion and whether she "deserves" it, when little was said about Hee Seo, who, in my viewings has more technical shortcomings (but is perhaps more versatile in terms of casting?) If you go to performances where Hee Seo is cast, you will see more Asians in the audience just as if you see Misty you will see more Black audience members. The difference, from my perspective, is that Misty brings out the young dancers (of all colors) who are inspired by her backstory and her pop appeal. I think this is good for ballet, kind of like what happened in the 70s with Barishnykov. Misty has a slightly curvaceous body for dance, which I think inspires a lot of girls who don't fit the stereotypical waif-type. Moreover, she was a late-starter, as far as ballet goes. I think this inspires a lot of students who didn't get to start ballet at 6 or 7, because of geographic or socioeconomic limitations.

One aspect of Misty's dancing that is overlooked is her epaulment. Her shoulders and arms are always carried beautifully. I saw her in Coppelia last year, and she was a fantastic comedic actress. I do hope that she can develop a partnership with Cornejo and though I'm not clamoring for her promotion right now (STELLLLLA!), I despise any suggestion that McKenzie would be promoting her *because* of her skin color or publicity efforts. As I said earlier, I find her much more technically assured than Hee Seo. And I wish Isabella Boylston, also a principal, would learn to control her hands and arms like Misty.

You'll be despising a lot of posters on this board then because that is the general consensus on here if you followed that last tragic thread. Well, other than Misty apparently being such a horrible dancer and all of her colleagues hate her, lol. As for her promotion I don't think she's technically or artistically there yet. But I didn't think Hee Seo, Isabella Boylston, Cory Stearns, Daniil Simkin, and certainly not James Whiteside where there yet for promotion either. The latter I don't think was necessary to hire from an outside company when he is quite inferior to even corp dancers like Forster. At the time, they had a much better dancer, Jared Matthews, in the ranks they should have given that position to. I also don't like his side music project either that seems to evade criticism on this board. Gee, I wonder why... Man, if Misty where to do a song called "The Fanny Bounce" or "F** Them All" we wouldn't hear the end of it.

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Of course there are basic skills that everyone must master before they can call themselves a ballet dancer.

But perfection of body isn't always paramount, Margot Fonteyne would never have had a career otherwise.

Not a good example. Fonteyn did not have particularly strong feet or a big jump, and tastes in the balletic female figure have changed since her day, but contemporary opinion considered that Fonteyn's proportions were perfect for ballet.

It is true that nobody's perfect, and dancers with ideal bodies don't always become the best dancers.

I think it's pretty clear that America is still a "white world" to the degree that whites still have a disproportionate degree of power, and that racism towards other races still exists and still does great harm.

Nobody here is claiming the opposite, at least I hope no one is, and I don't think On Pointe was doing so.

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Fonteyn did not have particularly strong feet or a big jump, and tastes in the balletic female figure have changed since her day, but contemporary opinion considered that Fonteyn's proportions were perfect for ballet.

If I recall correctly, Antoinette Sibley talked about how daunted she was at being cast as Ashton's Chloe because she couldn't imagine measuring up to Fonteyn's sense of line and proportion. It goes without saying that Sibley was no slouch where line and proportion were concerned.

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As one who is not intimately familiar with ballet, I want to ask how does one quantify such items as balance, partnering skill, control, or ability to dance in time with the music? Is that simply a numerical rating based on someone's opinion? In other words, is it similar to ice figure skating where judges provide numerical scores? Would all observers provide the same numerical score?

If we are looking at the height and weight of dancer, that's quantifiable. Bring out an accurate tape measure and scale, and then we know the height and weight. Those attributes can be quantified reliably and repeatedly.

Artistic attributes such as partnering skills would seem somewhat different?

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If I recall correctly, Antoinette Sibley talked about how daunted she was at being cast as Ashton's Chloe because she couldn't imagine measuring up to Fonteyn's sense of line and proportion. It goes without saying that Sibley was no slouch where line and proportion were concerned.

I saw that interview and Sibley said IIRC that she felt daunted because Margot had the right look for Chloe -- the huge saucer eyes in particular that even when she was in her 40's could suggest youthfulness (Aurora) or a waif-like innocence (Cinderella).

I think a better example of a ballerina overcoming perceived aesthetic deficiencies would be Melissa Hayden. She didn't have Balanchine's favored look and she admits that when she was first in the company she didn't have the strength and conditioning either. She says only by working hard within the company in his classes did she acquire the strength and musculature required for his ballets.

She's pretty frank about this in this interview:

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I was able to find the Sibley interview I remembered. It was from a 2004 Royal Ballet telecast for the Ashton centenary, which included a performance of Daphnis and Chloe with Alina Cojocaru and Federico Bonelli. Sibley said:

When it first went on the notice board that I was to learn it, I got absolute shock-horror, because to me I really couldn't ever see that ballet done by anybody but Margot Fonteyn. That was Margot Fonteyn, that ballet. No other way to do it. Her dark hair, her vivid dark looks, her amazing proportions, and the way she did it. Everything was perfection, as you think of a Greek column. When you saw Margot dance, it was ideal proportions. Nothing was wrong.

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Heather Watts always said the same thing about dancing for Balanchine, that she had many technical flaws and was grateful that he had faith in her. Alexandra Ansanelli too, although she didn't dance in Balanchine's time.

I've always thought that Margot Fonteyn, measured by the standards of her day, was the complete package.

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Ansanelli was excellent in Balanchine, especially the neoclassical ballets. She had difficulty with the "classics" like SB. That's partially why she went to RB- to learn the technique needed to dance more classical roles.

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In some ways I'm less concerned about what happens to Misty than I am about what happens to Stella Abrera and Sarah Lane--two outstanding dancers who deserve principal status. Stella's recent Giselle was unbelievable, and I think she may get the promotion. I'm more worried about Sarah.

Misty is selling tickets and bringing in new audiences. And whether people like her dancing or not, she is definitely inspiring kids of color to feel that they might just get a seat at the table. (Hence, at least part of the reason for making herself so visible, though obviously not the only one.) There are a lot of black ballerinas in the past, like Janet Collins, who didn't get where they should have because of race. So if one person, after all these years, gets a little further than she's entitled to, I guess that's the way it is until things even out more.

As for Gisburg, in general that kind of self-aggrandizement is considered unseemly in the judiciary and would generally work against you. However, DeCaprio is definitely a self-promoter, as most movie stars must be. In the end, after all the promotion, it's the work that will count.

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Did everyone see Misty on the Tony awards? She introduced On The Town.

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Misty Copeland has one hell of a management team. The theater world is not as insular as the ballet world, but it was a real coup for an outsider to get that gig. To give Misty her due, she did a beautiful job on the Tonys, as poised as any of the famous actors who are the usual presenters. So doubtless this means more hatred headed her way from certain elements of the ballet fan community.

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I saw her too. Yes, she was beautiful and poised. The camera also cut to her in the audience at least once. Nice gig for Copeland.

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