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Misty Copeland


Helene

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ABT soloists aren't alone in blitzing or blogging or guest-giging in far-off locales in hopes of gaining a promotion at home. We have at least two examples at the Mariinsky and neither was successful:

Evgenia Obraztsova - made numerous principal-role debuts far from St-P, e.g,, Raymonda in Bangkok, Aurora with Space Ballet somewhere in Florida. Neither Vaziev nor Fateev budged! She finally got her Principal promotion in Moscow at the Bolshoi

Julia Stepanova didn't go the guest-gig route but she was the object of a social media blitz by bloggers and YouTubers of creepy proportions. Got her nowhere and, in fact, I'm wondering where she is after all of the hoopla...no longer with Kremlin Ballet?

Hoopla...blogging...blitzing...guest gigging and announcing it all over the place. It's all the same schtick to me.

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When asked a direct question, always make an effort to respond.

Thank you. I've answered about a hundred questions here myself. I don't want to answer them all again.

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Copeland's social media push started out no differently than the others'. No one can force anyone to follow/"follow" anyone else on social media, just as no one can stop anyone from posting and documenting their lives on it. The difference is that the mainstream media has decided that Copeland and her story are worth following. Copeland didn't self-publish: Simon and Schuster chose to publish her story with its limited resources. Oprah had to decide that she would be featured. The "Time" editors had to decide to put her on the cover. No matter what she put out there on her own, she wouldn't be a media presence if the multi-billion dollar media industry didn't think her story, among millions of American stories, was not only worth telling once, but ẃorth following.

I don't see comparable criticism for Tiler Peck, who had a very public engagement and marriage mainly on social media -- which most dancers have kept on their private Facebook pages -- but also including the NYT spotlight, and who publicizes her non-ballet forays, like "Little Dancer." I would argue that there's more social significance to what Copeland is doing than Peck's nuptials, but the NYT knows its audience. Both NYCB and ABT get tons of free publicity out of it. But it doesn't go beyond the small ballet community and a social community unless the mainstream media makes its decision that it's a mainstream story.

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I'm going to be cynical and suggest that the media look at Copeland and see the perfect feel-good, triumph over adversity, you go girl story to fill all that airtime and generate all those page views.

I don't see anything cynical about that. "Black Ballerina Breaks Color Barrier" is a good story in both senses of the word.

I don't view Copeland's media efforts as a sinister

"Sinister"? Why would anyone think it's sinister?

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The difference between what Misty has done in terms of self promotion and what others have done is that Misty, unlike others, has used social media, media appearances, books, and so on to assert claims of discrimination, indirectly, against ABT. No specifics are provided regarding the accusations, but the only reasonable way to interpret the accusations is that they are made against ABT, since ABT is and has been her professional home since she was a teenager. The perception of some is that Misty is goading ABT into promoting her by taking this route. Think of how much more gratifying her promotion would be (and it seems now to be a foregone conclusion that she will be promoted this year) if she had not engaged in making such accusations.

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Copeland's social media push started out no differently than the others'. No one can force anyone to follow/"follow" anyone else on social media, just as no one can stop anyone from posting and documenting their lives on it. The difference is that the mainstream media has decided that Copeland and her story are worth following. Copeland didn't self-publish: Simon and Schuster chose to publish her story with its limited resources. Oprah had to decide that she would be featured. The "Time" editors had to decide to put her on the cover. No matter what she put out there on her own, she wouldn't be a media presence if the multi-billion dollar media industry didn't think her story, among millions of American stories, was not only worth telling once, but ẃorth following.

Mulling this over, I think that we're all unconsciously responding to the shift in the general community from a more traditional, top-down flow of media, with relatively few sources, to a more chaotic, multi-channel experience, where we get input from individuals and institutions willy-nilly (haven't used that phrase in a long time!) Helene's point about who makes the decisions is a good one -- while smaller communities (of which the dance world is one) can generate a great deal of excitement amongst themselves, the gateway to the more traditional, wide-ranging coverage like Oprah and Time is located elsewhere. Right now we're in the middle of both -- it doesn't happen very often in dance, so we're a little overwhelmed. I think we all need to take a breath.

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The difference between what Misty has done in terms of self promotion and what others have done is that Misty, unlike others, has used social media, media appearances, books, and so on to assert claims of discrimination, indirectly, against ABT. No specifics are provided regarding the accusations, but the only reasonable way to interpret the accusations is that they are made against ABT, since ABT is and has been her professional home since she was a teenager. The perception of some is that Misty is goading ABT into promoting her by taking this route.

Both Precious Adams and Michaela DePrince have described discrimination they have faced, which is directly or indirectly attributable to the institutions where they studied. DePrince has also written a book, and her AD had to put a press moratorium, she was in such demand.

Kevin McKenzie hasn't treated Copeland any differently than her peers at the Soloist level in terms of casting or rank, so whatever people's "perception" of how she's allegedly pressuring McKenzie, it hasn't worked. He might just be milking it for all it's worth, keeping the public wondering "Will he or won't he?"

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I wasn't asking you to. I simply wanted to state that I didn't think I was among your non-respondents, at least not knowingly.

Yeah, my bad, sorry. I amended my reply, but we must have been posting at the same time.

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Kevin McKenzie hasn't treated Copeland any differently than her peers at the Soloist level in terms of casting or rank, so whatever people's "perception" of how she's allegedly pressuring McKenzie, it hasn't worked. He might just be milking it for all it's worth, keeping the public wondering "Will he or won't he?"

Misty got two new lead roles in full length ballets this upcoming season - Juliet and O/O. She also picked up the lead in Rodeo. IN contrast, Stella's only new lead role is Ashton's Cinderella, and Sarah Lane has no new lead parts for this upcoming season (having danced SB and T&V for several years). Based on these facts, I can't agree that McKenzie hasn't treated Copeland differently than her peers at the soloist level. Copeland has gained a great deal of traction in the casting recently compared to the other senior soloist females.

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I don't see anything cynical about that. "Black Ballerina Breaks Color Barrier" is a good story in both senses of the word.

Cynical because the news organizations that feature Copeland's story are happy to talk to her and about her, but won't commit the resources it would take to do real reporting on the issue, or any issue in the arts for that matter.

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Am I alone in thinking that Misty would have likely made Principal a year or two ago, had she not suffered the injury after her initial Ratmansky FIREBIRD? That seemed to be the initial push and now we're seeing a second stronger push.

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Misty got two new lead roles in full length ballets this upcoming season - Juliet and O/O. She also picked up the lead in Rodeo. IN contrast, Stella's only new lead role is Ashton's Cinderella, and Sarah Lane has no new lead parts for this upcoming season (having danced SB and T&V for several years). Based on these facts, I can't agree that McKenzie hasn't treated Copeland differently than her peers at the soloist level. Copeland has gained a great deal of traction in the casting recently compared to the other senior soloist females.

Misty's been a soloist for eight years. She's been marketing herself aggressively for at least five of those years. If she was was so effective in gaining supposedly undeserved opportunities, shouldn't she have more to show for it?

It took her 8 years to get Swan Lake and Romeo & Juliet leads. She has never danced leads in Giselle, Don Quixote, Le Corsaire, Manon, Nutcracker, T&V, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, La Sylphide, Gaite Parisienne or practically any of the other ballets in ABT's rep.

Just what is she stealing from Stella and Sarah?

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Is it a mere coincidence that her recent ascendancy into all these new, terrific lead roles coincides with her media blitz over the last year or two regarding discrimination at ABT? I don't recall this massive level of PR from her 5 years ago. The PR blitz has been at a fever pitch for about 2 years or so.

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whatever people's "perception" of how she's allegedly pressuring McKenzie, it hasn't worked. He might just be milking it for all it's worth, keeping the public wondering "Will he or won't he?"

Could be, and as Tapfan points out, she's been a soloist for eight years and has been self-promoting for over half of them, so it's not like her media campaign has fast-tracked her to principal. But whether it "worked" so far or not, it's given McKenzie three clear reasons, irrespective of artistic merit, why he can hardly not promote her soon. 1) She sells tickets, and 2) he and the organization will be demonized as racist if he doesn’t (and not just by people in the ballet community), which 3) is a financial dis-incentive. He sells more tickets if he promotes her, and risks selling less if he doesn’t.

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Misty got two new lead roles in full length ballets this upcoming season - Juliet and O/O. She also picked up the lead in Rodeo. IN contrast, Stella's only new lead role is Ashton's Cinderella, and Sarah Lane has no new lead parts for this upcoming season (having danced SB and T&V for several years). Based on these facts, I can't agree that McKenzie hasn't treated Copeland differently than her peers at the soloist level. Copeland has gained a great deal of traction in the casting recently compared to the other senior soloist females.

Being cast in Ratmansky's "Sleeping Beauty" is not the same thing as having been cast in the Kirkland/Chernov/McKenzie mess, and the Ratmansky is the most talked-about and eagerly-awaited production in ABT's Spring Season. McKenzie could have skipped Lane and hired another outsider for this.

According to their official bios on the ABT site,

Stella Abrera:

Lead roles in full-lengths:

  • Gamzatti in La Bayadère
  • Ballerina in The Bright Stream
  • Fairy Godmother in Frederick Ashton's Cinderella
  • Cinderella in James Kudelka's Cinderella
  • Myrta in Giselle (See correction from page 35)

Lead roles in neoclassical short ballets and feature roles in classical ballets:

  • peasant pas de deux in Giselle
  • Princess Florine in The Sleeping Beauty
  • the Girl in Afternoon of a Faun
  • Calliope in Apollo
  • the violin in Symphonie Concertante
  • leading roles in Ballet Imperial, Symphony in C, Symphonic Variations, Les Sylphides, The Birthday Offering, Symphony #9, Symphony in C

Sarah Lane:

Lead roles in full-lengths:

  • Swanilda in Coppélia
  • Gulnare in Le Corsaire
  • Clara in Alexei Ratmansky's The Nutcracker
  • Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty
  • Miranda in The Tempest
  • Myrta in Giselle (See correction from page 35)

Lead roles in neoclassical short ballets, legacy rep, and feature roles in classical ballets:

  • Princess Florine in The Sleeping Beauty
  • Sugar Plum Fairy in Kevin McKenzie's The Nutcracker
  • the Snow Queen in Kevin McKenzie's The Nutcracker
  • Manon in Lady of the Camellias
  • leading roles in Theme and Variations, The Leaves Are Fading, Raymonda Divertissements, Symphony in C

Misty Copeland:

Lead roles in full-lengths:

  • Gamzatti in La Bayadère
  • Clara in Alexei Ratmansky's The Nutcracker
  • Odette-Odile in Swan Lake
  • Swanilda in Coppélia

Lead roles in neoclassical short ballets, legacy rep, and feature roles in classical ballets:

  • Mercedes in Don Quixote
  • Driad Queen in Don Quixote
  • Cowgirl in Rodeo
  • the Firebird in Alexei Ratmansky’s Firebird
  • peasant pas de deux in Giselle
  • Leading roles in Birthday Offering, Duo Concertant, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux

There's no mention of Juliet in Copeland's bio, but there are Odette/Odile and Cowgirl, which suggests she's already danced them. From what I remember, the O/O debut was on tour. I don't know when she first danced Cowgirl.

If anything, Copeland may be catching up in the number of leads, but she's hardly overtaken her peers.

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In addition, promoting her potentially leads to new minority donors to ABT - a new source of income for ABT.

Yes she debuted OO on the road in Australia in August? 2014, but she will debut in NY at the Met this summer.

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Julia Stepanova didn't go the guest-gig route but she was the object of a social media blitz by bloggers and YouTubers of creepy proportions. Got her nowhere and, in fact, I'm wondering where she is after all of the hoopla...no longer with Kremlin Ballet?

.

Yulia Stepanova joined the Stanislavsky in December 2014. Far from initiating the bloggers and Ytubers, she was at their mercy (from what I read) and extremely uncomfortable with their attention (which also focused on excoriating Skorik). You can hardly compare her to Misty.

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If memory serves, both Abrera and Lane have publicized their guest gigs with non-US companies on certain blogs.'!

As far as I know, neither Abrera or Lane have self initiated any publicity about their gigs. Certain bloggers who adore them find out about them, though, and make sure to follow them.

As for Misty, it's not just the social media, it's the TV spots (NY1, the NewsHour, etc.) and mainstream press (NYT, Time). If I haven't heard her sob story, accusations and ambition what feels like 1,000 times, I haven't heard it once. Frankly, what dancer doesn't want to be a principal. But to have a hook like "first black principal at ABT", well she's going to exploit that for all its worth. If I thought her dancing was of a caliber to back up this media blitz I wouldn't mind so much. But I don't like it. And she's pretty much put Kevin in a corner where if he doesn't promote her he'll look like a racist.

I would like to say that I have seen no other black dancers in any company jumping on the Misty bandwagon. In fact, my impression is that others, especially at ABT (Calvin Royal, for example) want to be distanced from her. As itsthemom wrote a few days ago, other minority dancers want to be judged and given roles based on their dancing not their skin color. My impression is that Misty just wants to get ahead, no matter what, no matter how, come hell or high water and she doesn't care at all how she does it.s

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I don't see comparable criticism for Tiler Peck, who had a very public engagement and marriage mainly on social media -- which most dancers have kept on their private Facebook pages -- but also including the NYT spotlight, and who publicizes her non-ballet forays, like "Little Dancer." I would argue that there's more social significance to what Copeland is doing than Peck's nuptials, but the NYT knows its audience. Both NYCB and ABT get tons of free publicity out of it. But it doesn't go beyond the small ballet community and a social community unless the mainstream media makes its decision that it's a mainstream story.

Tiler and Robbie's engagement/marriage media publicity didn't go on for years; maybe 10 months maximum. But I have to say that by last September I was totally at my limit at hearing about it. "Enough already" was what I was beginning to think. Thankfully, it stopped just around that time.

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