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Misty Copeland - Divided Views


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Also, is anyone really shocked that NYCB passed on a dancer that didn't come up through SAB or work in a top-tier company?

You'd better not let Virginia Johnson see that remark. :wink:

Based on interviews I've seen her do, she definitely thinks that prior to its hiatus, DTH was a top-tier company, even if many ballet fans disagree.

As to Graf's lack of SAB training, couldn't her skill as a dancer be considered a game-changing factor?

And weren't Balanchine works a significant portion of DTH programming? Even if she wasn't trained in Balanchine technique, she most certainly had experience dancing his pieces.

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Misty insinuates that she has been discriminated against, but never gives specifics regarding time, place, person, role, and so on. Insinuation without factual detail is debilitating to the reputation of a major organization. Of course she hasn't brought suit. She gets a lot further with mere insinuation. Maybe the specifics will be revealed in some future book. ABT is now embracing Misty because it will put an end to critics who allege that she is denied roles based on race. They are also embracing her in the hope of attracting "new audiences."

Most of the soloists at ABT are overlooked for principal roles, except those who prove to be extraordinarily talented and skilled. ABT is, and always has been, a place where guest artists occupy a significant portion of the roster for the plum roles and performances. Like it or not, that's how it is at ABT. So is it racism at ABT that is the factor that has held Misty back, or is it just the way things are at ABT for almost all soloists. Does anyone who attends ABT performances regularly think that Misty is more talented, has better technique and stronger abilities than the other female soloists?

I maintain that if ABT had a serious issue with Misty's comments in to the media, they would have shut her down by now. And as for her "insinuations": I believe that she doesn't name dates/people because because she isn't seeking retribution. Her intended audience isn't older, white fans who comment on boards like BA. It's the young, black girls who have been told that they don't have the "right look" (here's the institutional racism) for ballet. She is telling them - "Hey! I've been through this, and now I'm a soloist with ABT. Hang in there!"

Also, as someone who has been a soloist for 7 years - and is likely nearing the end of her career - she paid her dues (she was well received in Firebird and Coppelia), and deserves an opportunity to tackle more challenging roles (hence the O/O). Giving Misty more opportunities will not compromise the career trajectory of other female soloists. don't think it's just PR. And what's wrong with attracting new audiences? If ballet is to remain a vital art form, we need "new audiences."

Regarding AGM, I wonder if she contacted any ballet companies outside of NYC?

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Copeland aside (I'm one who only enjoys her dancing in certain things such as Tharp ballets). In terms of race and the paucity of black dancers in major companies - I really don't thing that a company director looks at a dancer and says - I'd love to hire her, but she's black so I can't or won't. Graff not getting into NYCB doesn't surprise me because they hire out of their school.

It seems to me that the problem is exposure (black audiences seeing ballet), the cost and availability of quality training if a child is interested, and just plain numbers. If you looked at all of the little girls who begin ballet training in any year, the chances of any one of them getting into a major company in 12 or 15 years is really, really small.

When DTH was resurrecting, even Virginia Johnson was disappointed by the small number of qualified black dancers who auditioned.

Maybe, I'm talking chicken and egg but there can't be a large number of wonderful black dancers rising to the top until there are scads of black dancers students.

My view of Copeland is that her publicity and self promotion is getting her roles that others should have. Whether it is ultimately for the best depends on your point of view. BTW Alicia Graff's interview on Ballet Initiative is worth a listen. Funny, when Virginia Johnson's picture was on her wall as a kid (Along with Judith Jameson, Cynthia Gregory, and many others) she thought Johnson was white!!

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I maintain that if ABT had a serious issue with Misty's comments in to the media, they would have shut her down by now.

Imagine the bad publicity _that_ would bring them. That would be pretty dumb, don’t you think? They have no way of responding without drawing scrutiny from a wider audience, and as this thread demonstrates, an awful lot of people are inclined to accept her story without evidence it’s true. On the other hand . . .

And as for her "insinuations": I believe that she doesn't name dates/people because because she isn't seeking retribution. Her intended audience isn't older, white fans who comment on boards like BA. It's the young, black girls who have been told that they don't have the "right look" (here's the institutional racism) for ballet. She is telling them - "Hey! I've been through this, and now I'm a soloist with ABT. Hang in there!"

. . . it’s highly doubtful that she could get anyone fired or disciplined with claims – and could she substantiate them? – made years after the fact. If retribution was what she was after, she’s had it the only way she could. But I don’t presume she was. I’m sure she wants to encourage black kids (and make a buck and become a celebrity - her right). Teaching them nuanced and charitable thinking – ‘Although I want to change the tradition, I can see it’s not designed to keep you and me out’ – would have been a real service.

Also, as someone who has been a soloist for 7 years - and is likely nearing the end of her career - she paid her dues (she was well received in Firebird and Coppelia), and deserves an opportunity to tackle more challenging roles (hence the O/O). Giving Misty more opportunities will not compromise the career trajectory of other female soloists. don't think it's just PR. And what's wrong with attracting new audiences? If ballet is to remain a vital art form, we need "new audiences."
Attracting new audiences is great, and I’m sure most soloists think they can do principal roles, but one doesn’t just put in X years as a soloist and deserve Swan Lake. I don't know how ABT works, but it shouldn't work that way.
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...as this thread demonstrates, an awful lot of people are inclined to accept her story without evidence it’s true. . .

You may not be speaking of me personally, but this was a bit below the belt at anyone whose opinion differs from yours.

You have no idea of my race and my experience.

[The racial insensitivity of this entire thread is really astounding.]

I happen to be white. I also happen to come from a multiracial family of dancers. And I've seen how non-white dancers were--and are--treated first hand.

Maybe I accept Misty's story "without evidence that it is true," but it is because I am not blind to how race acts in our country and in the dance world. I have seen it.

Lastly, returning to the "playing the race card" terminology. Before you use it again or engage in discussions of race in the US or insinuate those who disagree with you are being naive in accepting someone's story, perhaps you should read up on the issue a bit. I suggest this as a fine starting point for self-education:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/07/09/1222198/-The-Race-Card-White-Backlash-and-Why-Reverse-Racism-is-an-Oxymoronic-Irony

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...as this thread demonstrates, an awful lot of people are inclined to accept her story without evidence it’s true. . .

You may not be speaking of me personally, but this was a bit below the belt at anyone whose opinion differs from yours.

You have no idea of my race and my experience.

[The racial insensitivity of this entire thread is really astounding.]

I happen to be white. I also happen to come from a multiracial family of dancers. And I've seen how non-white dancers were--and are--treated first hand.

Maybe I accept Misty's story "without evidence that it is true," but it is because I am not blind to how race acts in our country and in the dance world. I have seen it.

Lastly, returning to the "playing the race card" terminology. Before you use it again or engage in discussions of race in the US or insinuate those who disagree with you are being naive in accepting someone's story, perhaps you should read up on the issue a bit. I suggest this as a fine starting point for self-education:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/07/09/1222198/-The-Race-Card-White-Backlash-and-Why-Reverse-Racism-is-an-Oxymoronic-Irony

This thread is a small example of why black dancers go to modern and not classical ballet. A lot of typical American responses in here, with the "race card" terminology thrown around as soon as someone speaks about discrimination. It's like clock work.

I suppose all of us who have experienced racism must wear a body camera at all times as young as age 6, since otherwise there is no tangible "proof" of such instances.

Michaela DePrince was told at age 8 that she couldn't dance Marie in The Nutcracker at the last minute because "the audience wasn't ready for a black dancer". I suppose her mother should have made her wear a tape recorder for proof that she wasn't lying about it for future interviews. Apparently DePrince, Copeland, Lauren Anderson, Raven Wilkinson, and others can't talk about discrimination or microaggression racism now since the mere conversation of it is apparently pulling the mythical race card.

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I maintain that if ABT had a serious issue with Misty's comments in to the media, they would have shut her down by now.

Imagine the bad publicity _that_ would bring them. That would be pretty dumb, don’t you think? They have no way of responding without drawing scrutiny from a wider audience, and as this thread demonstrates, an awful lot of people are inclined to accept her story without evidence it’s true. On the other hand . . .

And as for her "insinuations": I believe that she doesn't name dates/people because because she isn't seeking retribution. Her intended audience isn't older, white fans who comment on boards like BA. It's the young, black girls who have been told that they don't have the "right look" (here's the institutional racism) for ballet. She is telling them - "Hey! I've been through this, and now I'm a soloist with ABT. Hang in there!"

. . . it’s highly doubtful that she could get anyone fired or disciplined with claims – and could she substantiate them? – made years after the fact. If retribution was what she was after, she’s had it the only way she could. But I don’t presume she was. I’m sure she wants to encourage black kids (and make a buck and become a celebrity - her right). Teaching them nuanced and charitable thinking – ‘Although I want to change the tradition, I can see it’s not designed to keep you and me out’ – would have been a real service.

Also, as someone who has been a soloist for 7 years - and is likely nearing the end of her career - she paid her dues (she was well received in Firebird and Coppelia), and deserves an opportunity to tackle more challenging roles (hence the O/O). Giving Misty more opportunities will not compromise the career trajectory of other female soloists. don't think it's just PR. And what's wrong with attracting new audiences? If ballet is to remain a vital art form, we need "new audiences."
Attracting new audiences is great, and I’m sure most soloists think they can do principal roles, but one doesn’t just put in X years as a soloist and deserve Swan Lake. I don't know how ABT works, but it shouldn't work that way.

ABT could have easily released a statement that said: "We embrace dancers of all colors, and have given Misty many opportunities to shine" (or something to that effect). Management could have also taken her aside and politely told her to reduce her number of media appearances. I think both of those approaches would have been wrong, but I'm also an anti-racist person. I also am unnerved by the insinuation that Misty is lying about a problem that numerous black female dancers have identified over the years:

If she had lied in her autobiography, I feel like someone would have called her out on it. In this era of social media, most people who lie in memoirs are eventually called out for it (thinking of James Frey here).

In 2014, I don't think there is a smoke filled room at every ballet company where ADs deliberately hatch plans to keep black women away from their ranks. But I recall Aesha Ash (I believe she had a bit of a following on these boards) mentioning that she left NYCB because Peter Martins was no longer interested in developing her. Yet, he is interested in developing dancers like Chase Finlay (who probably reminds Martins of a young version of himself). Likewise, the "potential" that the Mariinsky saw in Oxana Skorik and Alina Somova was probably largely based on their similarity to the classical ideal. While we like to think that the cream automatically rises to the crop, I think that ADs make personnel/promotion decisions based on instincts and hunches, and a lifetime of socialization that white/slender = ballerina/danseur. A better message might be: "Ballet is not deliberately designed to keep us out, but you will find yourself fighting twice as hard and needing to be twice as good to get the same opportunities and respect that your white peers receive."

I feel like Misty's O/O hasn't just come out of nowhere. She has tackled other classical roles, and received good reviews for them (people on this very board had nice things to say about her Coppelia). Also, none of the Misty critics have even seen her perform O/O, and it has been well received in Australia. The amount of outrage that this casting has generated would be hilarious if it wasn't so offensive. If she is tackling O/O for the first time, an out of country tour is the place to do it.

Also, mods: Misty's last name is misspelled in the thread title. It's Copeland, not Copland.

[Added by Helene: Thank you -- I've fixed the title.]

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Martins has also developed Taylor Stanley and Craig Hall, both of whom are soloists at NYCB. Martins also promoted the now-retired Albert Evans to principal, and I believe Albert is now a ballet master at NYCB. It's a little disingenuous to leave these details out while mentioning that Peter favors Chase Finlay because Chase looks like Peter.

I don't think anyone is saying Misty is outright lying. I think it's more a question of embellishment in pursuit of an objective.

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Copeland aside (I'm one who only enjoys her dancing in certain things such as Tharp ballets). In terms of race and the paucity of black dancers in major companies - I really don't thing that a company director looks at a dancer and says - I'd love to hire her, but she's black so I can't or won't. Graff not getting into NYCB doesn't surprise me because they hire out of their school.

It seems to me that the problem is exposure (black audiences seeing ballet), the cost and availability of quality training if a child is interested, and just plain numbers. If you looked at all of the little girls who begin ballet training in any year, the chances of any one of them getting into a major company in 12 or 15 years is really, really small.

When DTH was resurrecting, even Virginia Johnson was disappointed by the small number of qualified black dancers who auditioned.

Maybe, I'm talking chicken and egg but there can't be a large number of wonderful black dancers rising to the top until there are scads of black dancers students.

My view of Copeland is that her publicity and self promotion is getting her roles that others should have. Whether it is ultimately for the best depends on your point of view. BTW Alicia Graff's interview on Ballet Initiative is worth a listen. Funny, when Virginia Johnson's picture was on her wall as a kid (Along with Judith Jameson, Cynthia Gregory, and many others) she thought Johnson was white!!

The Graf story has always made me a little sad. It's sad when a career is derailed that way. And I do agree with your second and fourth paragraphs. Lauren Anderson (I mentioned her in a previous post) is working an Outreach Associate for Houston Ballet, and I think that Project Plie is a step in the right direction for ABT. Maybe they can make a difference.

I am happy to see Misty tackling more classical roles. Her "self-promotion" did not stop Isabella Boylston from getting promoted to principal, and I don't think it's interfering with any other dancer's career trajectory. If McKenzie wanted to promote Abrera or Lane, he would do it - regardless of what Misty is doing in her spare time.

I will have to check out the AGM interview!

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Pique Arabesque, Aesha Ash may have felt that Peter Martins was not interested in developing her, but that's a complaint from many dancers. I wouldn't attribute it to race. In ABT Simone Messemer went to SFB for that reason.

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aurora wrote:

You have no idea of my race and my experience.
I know you weren’t there when Copeland claims she was discriminated against.
Maybe I accept Misty's story "without evidence that it is true," but it is because I am not blind to how race acts in our country and in the dance world. I have seen it.
We’ve all seen it. And I think we've all heard another plausible explanation for what she calls racism – body standards that most white women can’t meet either.
Lastly, returning to the "playing the race card" terminology. Before you use it again
I didn’t use it. abatt did.
Pique Arabeque, I don't think for a minute that Copeland's lying. I think (see above) she's quite likely making an improper assumption. And of course you're right, her shot at Swan Lake "hasn't just come out of nowhere." Whether or not the controversy she's stirred up influenced McKenzie to cast her, she's worked very hard. All credit to her for that.
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We've hit on some really interesting issues in this thread. Hot button issues. And I think we've been good about respecting each other's opinions. This is just a moderator's note to keep it that way. Continue on... tiphat.gif

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In Misty's case, I think there's also the issue of two different matters being perceived as somewhat related, even though they might not be and this is not even intended. Though I believe that at least Misty should be aware of the possibility of it happening.

1) A lot of people seem to think she doesn't meet the demands for dancing prinicpal roles in classical pieces, technically speaking. According to what they themselves have witnessed regarding her dancing.

2) Misty claims she has been denied opportunities due to racism.

-> Rightfully so or not rightfully so, to some it may seem like she's ignoring "real" reasons for not being cast in certain roles and instead assuming there's racism, even if her claims were speaking of a different place and time. I think it would at least partly be perceived differently if people had a different view of her dancing. Doesn't mean that her claims are untrue, just that it's an unfortunate combination.

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In Misty's case, I think there's also the issue of two different matters being perceived as somewhat related, even though they might not be and this is not even intended. Though I believe that at least Misty should be aware of the possibility of it happening.

1) A lot of people seem to think she doesn't meet the demands for dancing prinicpal roles in classical pieces, technically speaking. According to what they themselves have witnessed regarding her dancing.

2) Misty claims she has been denied opportunities due to racism.

-> Rightfully so or not rightfully so, to some it may seem like she's ignoring "real" reasons for not being cast in certain roles and instead assuming there's racism, even if her claims were speaking of a different place and time. I think it would at least partly be perceived differently if people had a different view of her dancing. Doesn't mean that her claims are untrue, just that it's an unfortunate combination.

I think it's worth noting that most of Misty's claims are related to the beginning of her career with ABT. Here, she talks about being overlooked as a young dancer in the corps:

"Certain people, they’d come in and cast ballets and wouldn’t even give me the time of day or the chance to see if I was talented enough to portray certain roles. They think the corps de ballet should be [racially] uniform and that’s the thing."

Full link - http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/03/misty-copeland-on-ballet-race-and-her-new-book.html

She seems very content with her current position in the company.

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Martins has also developed Taylor Stanley and Craig Hall, both of whom are soloists at NYCB. Martins also promoted the now-retired Albert Evans to principal, and I believe Albert is now a ballet master at NYCB. It's a little disingenuous to leave these details out while mentioning that Peter favors Chase Finlay because Chase looks like Peter.

I don't think anyone is saying Misty is outright lying. I think it's more a question of embellishment in pursuit of an objective.

Black men have actually have had quite a bit of success in the ballet world - I agree with you in that sense. Black women are the ones who still face barriers.

I used Finlay as an example because his fast (and controversial) ascent to the principal ranks was largely based on potential. And he and Martins are essentially cut from the same danseur noble cloth.

Saying that Misty "embellished" her memoir still suggests that she is not being completely honest/is being hyper-sensitive about her experiences. I feel no reason to doubt her story unless some other compelling evidence emerges.

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Pique Arabesque, Aesha Ash may have felt that Peter Martins was not interested in developing her, but that's a complaint from many dancers. I wouldn't attribute it to race. In ABT Simone Messemer went to SFB for that reason.

Also, I'm sure anyone who has misspelled Misty Copeland's name meant no disrespect. I think I might have misspelled Simone Messemer's name.

I agree that many dancers complain about a lack of coaching/development, etc. At ABT, in particular, it is an institutional problem that transcends race. However, black women in ballet have to deal with these "typical dancer" concerns + centuries of stereotypes that depict them as unfeminine, etc. While I'm sure that Martins had no conscious animus for Ash, he may have underestimated her potential. That's unfortunate for everyone.

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I think it's worth noting that most of Misty's claims are related to the beginning of her career with ABT. Here, she talks about being overlooked as a young dancer in the corps:

"Certain people, they’d come in and cast ballets and wouldn’t even give me the time of day or the chance to see if I was talented enough to portray certain roles. They think the corps de ballet should be [racially] uniform and that’s the thing."

Full link - http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/03/misty-copeland-on-ballet-race-and-her-new-book.html

She seems very content with her current position in the company.

I did not say she is claiming she is.

even if her claims were speaking of a different place and time

However I think it can be unrightfully perceived as if she's insinuating she did not have technical struggles as an obstacle by shifting the focus to racism. And on the other hand, perceiving it as if her status as soloist, not principal, could very well be due to racism as well.

It's not what Misty is doing explicitly, but what people do with it. And I am unsure about whether Misty is aware of it. I think it is very much possible.

Sorry for any misunderstandings as English is not my first language.

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I think it's a real shame that neither NYCB nor ABT took a chance on Graf--I don't know their reasons and I assume her history of injury played a role, but no-one has to be motivated by explicit/conscious racism for racism (or, if you prefer, assumptions about race and classical ballet) to impact the way that person makes decisions. I only saw Graf once and with Ailey, but she seems to be an exceptional talent. I hope she DOES feel fulfilled in her career.

One point raised above is that Copeland hasn't told concrete stories about ABT for example naming names etc. I fully understand why someone would choose not to do so -- for all kinds of reasons, but especially if the goal is to address institutional problems even as one has a ballet career in those institutions. The moment one "names names" the problem gets treated as a very specific personal (and sometimes legal) one: what did THIS person say and can that episode be proved exactly etc. It easily becomes a story about a few "bad apples." Copeland seems to want to address the need for institutional change (as well, of course, as just telling her own story) and she is having an impact at that level. Sometimes not making it personal is a better way to go.

Reading about her not just here but elsewhere, I feel she gets a lot of criticism for "how" she talks about the issues, but I think these are not issues it is easy or even possible to talk about -- I would add especially not for an African-American woman -- in a way that doesn't open one to criticism: for saying too much (exaggeration), too little (not enough detail), for being unable to 'prove' what is, after all, often going to be subject to interpretation (gee, Alicia Graf IS prone to injury), for being self-interested (if she's just trying to further her career, then why be sympathetic) etc. BUT...The difficulty of talking about the issue in a way that doesn't provoke criticism seems to me itself a symptom of the very problem that is being talked about. If racism and institutional racism were easier to talk about, then they would probably be easier to change and vice-versa. In other words, we probably wouldn't still need to be talking about them.

About the phrase "playing the race card" -- I think it implies Copeland is just being opportunistic and obviously some people think that she is. Honestly I don't know that I would hold it against her if I believed she were just being opportunistic, since ballet is a tough business and especially so for an African-American woman (it puzzles me that anyone would doubt this)--but I also don't think that it's fair to assume that she is just being opportunistic and I don't.

Finally--and unfortunately--I haven't seen Copeland enough to have a real opinion about her as a dancer -- though from what I've seen she certainly seems talented to me. I did notice that In Swan Lake she got a very glowing review from a critic who had made some pretty persuasive criticisms of Mckenzie's production (which I have seen quite a number of times).

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By instituting Project Plie and making Misty the face of that project, ABT managed a cunning PR victory. There was no way they could ever tell her to stop saying or implying that there is racism at ABT. Essentially, they took her cirticisms regarding race issues at ABT and co-opted them to ABT's own advantage by creating Project Plie. They neutralized her assertions about racism at ABT. Excellent strategy..

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Martins has also developed Taylor Stanley and Craig Hall, both of whom are soloists at NYCB. Martins also promoted the now-retired Albert Evans to principal, and I believe Albert is now a ballet master at NYCB. It's a little disingenuous to leave these details out while mentioning that Peter favors Chase Finlay because Chase looks like Peter.

I don't think anyone is saying Misty is outright lying. I think it's more a question of embellishment in pursuit of an objective.

Once again, people ignore the fact that those are BLACK MALES. The issue is lack of opportunity for black females.

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Moonlily - I agree. I think people would be interested in Misty speaking to the challenges she's faced and faces in working on aspects of her technique and artistry - focusing on that as important challenges in her ballet career. All dancers are working on something - even principals. Every dancer is painfully aware of their limitations and it's a daily struggle to conquer the deficiencies you have in artistry and technique. Speaking to that would help young dancers more clearly see the journey she is on and might make her easier to relate to as she creates her brand.


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By instituting Project Plie and making Misty the face of that project, ABT managed a cunning PR victory. There was no way they could ever tell her to stop saying or implying that there is racism at ABT. Essentially, they took her cirticisms regarding race issues at ABT and co-opted them to ABT's own advantage by creating Project Plie. They neutralized her assertions about racism at ABT. Excellent strategy..

I don't believe that those people on the PP advisory board would waste their time with something that's being done just for show. If it is being done just for show, a lot of people have been suckered into participating. Three or four more companies have become affiliated with the program since it's inception.

Martins has also developed Taylor Stanley and Craig Hall, both of whom are soloists at NYCB. Martins also promoted the now-retired Albert Evans to principal, and I believe Albert is now a ballet master at NYCB. It's a little disingenuous to leave these details out while mentioning that Peter favors Chase Finlay because Chase looks like Peter.

I don't think anyone is saying Misty is outright lying. I think it's more a question of embellishment in pursuit of an objective.

Black men have actually have had quite a bit of success in the ballet world - I agree with you in that sense. Black women are the ones who still face barriers.

I used Finlay as an example because his fast (and controversial) ascent to the principal ranks was largely based on potential. And he and Martins are essentially cut from the same danseur noble cloth.

Saying that Misty "embellished" her memoir still suggests that she is not being completely honest/is being hyper-sensitive about her experiences. I feel no reason to doubt her story unless some other compelling evidence emerges.

I don't get why it's okay to say it's unfair to criticize the ballet establishment without concrete evidence of racial bias, but it's fair to accuse Copeland of embellishing her tales of adversity without proof.

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Just as there is the race card, there is also the denial card. Just as some people can and do interject race into situations where it has no bearing, there are people who can and do automatically dismiss any and all racial grievances. There is a long history of denial of racial bias going back to times when it's obvious it existed.

I'm talking about the 50's, 40's, 30's and even further back.

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Tapfan wrote:

Once again, people ignore the fact that those are BLACK MALES. The issue is lack of opportunity for black females.
Then you must believe that some racists are gender-specific – that they’re only racist towards one gender. Has anyone heard of people like that? Can you give examples? Because the racism theory of why many black females struggle in ballet implies their existence, and their non-existence implies that the racism theory is wrong.
Drew wrote:
Copeland seems to want to address the need for institutional change (as well, of course, as just telling her own story) and she is having an impact at that level. Sometimes not making it personal is a better way to go. [ . . . ] The difficulty of talking about the issue in a way that doesn't provoke criticism seems to me itself a symptom of the very problem that is being talked about. If racism and institutional racism were easier to talk about, then they would probably be easier to change and vice-versa. In other words, we probably wouldn't still need to be talking about them.
True, but some perceptions are actually misperceptions. A perceived racial slight is not by definition an actual racial slight. What’s more, when something has been standard and habitual, people become habituated to “perceiving” it whether it’s there or not.
I think it should be possible to discuss body types in ballet – what’s ideal, whether the ideal can be changed or expanded without altering the aesthetic, whether the aesthetic should be altered for the sake of pluralism, etc. – without basically name calling, without thinking or saying that people who prize the aesthetic they’ve grown to love are just racist, plain and simple. American racism was for a long time extremely ugly – emphasis on the word "extremely." It wasn’t declining to promote people who didn’t have a certain body type. It was beating and hanging and firehosing them, etc. Did Copeland face the equivalent? Does Copeland really think that whoever thought she didn’t fit the ballet ideal would have been behind the firehoses 40 years ago? Or is Copeland using rhetoric that draws a false moral equivalency, that lumps a key historical component of an art form in with the worst that’s been said and done? A further question could be asked: does Copeland want to start a conversation that could change minds, or does she want to bully people into changing behavior? Empathy and respect need to go both ways.
Honestly I don't know that I would hold it against her if I believed she were just being opportunistic
Me either. But she could have made a big splash by just presenting herself as a black ballerina, without the racism angle.
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By instituting Project Plie and making Misty the face of that project, ABT managed a cunning PR victory. There was no way they could ever tell her to stop saying or implying that there is racism at ABT. Essentially, they took her cirticisms regarding race issues at ABT and co-opted them to ABT's own advantage by creating Project Plie. They neutralized her assertions about racism at ABT. Excellent strategy..

I don't believe that those people on the PP advisory board would waste their time with something that's being done just for show. If it is being done just for show, a lot of people have been suckered into participating. Three or four more companies have become affiliated with the program since it's inception.

Tapfan, I think you need to reread abatt's comment more carefully. The suggestion there is not that the program is just for show, is not real and does not have real effects; the suggestion is regarding the motivations for instituting the program.

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