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Misty Copeland, Part Deux


Helene

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Hope this doesn't seem harsh but just from someone who is interested in ballet and never danced myself- my impression from reading about Copeland's career is that she hadn't quite "made it" yet- she had received the principal title, but from what I've read over the years didn't seem up to the level she could potentially climb to (she seemed to admit that herself?) - she was working with that (I forget his name) teacher, completely re-working her technique, but then barely dancing to show whether she had reached a new level (of artistry as well as technique)..  I just don't see how she would satisfied with her actual dancing career (as an artist, not an "activist")...but perhaps too many injuries made that impossible.  

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McKenzie wasn't a great dancer, but for whatever reason he got the AD job. So being a great dancer isn't a requirement. 

The AD has to be at the studio all the time, and also travel to every tour location for the entire tour period.  Why would someone with a new baby at home, who has numerous other lucrative, less time consuming  opportunities, even consider doing this?

 

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48 minutes ago, abatt said:

McKenzie wasn't a great dancer, but for whatever reason he got the AD job. So being a great dancer isn't a requirement. 

In interviews long ago, McKenzie said he got the job because nobody else would take it and the company was near bankruptcy after Baryshnikov's abrupt departure. Whatever people think of his tenure at ABT, he did salvage something decent. 

I was glad that Kaufman at least cited Stella Abrera as another option. I don't know if she's considered a successful director at Kaatsabaan, but at least she has some management experience.

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3 hours ago, Balletwannabe said:

Hope this doesn't seem harsh but just from someone who is interested in ballet and never danced myself- my impression from reading about Copeland's career is that she hadn't quite "made it" yet- she had received the principal title, but from what I've read over the years didn't seem up to the level she could potentially climb to (she seemed to admit that herself?) - she was working with that (I forget his name) teacher, completely re-working her technique, but then barely dancing to show whether she had reached a new level (of artistry as well as technique)..  I just don't see how she would satisfied with her actual dancing career (as an artist, not an "activist")...but perhaps too many injuries made that impossible.  

Misty popped her Achilles tendon and IMO hasn't been the same since. That injury is usually the very worst to recover from -- it ended Jennie Somogyis career as well as athletes like Kobe Bryant.

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At least this is an improvement on Ismene Brown's infamous article, "What happens to male ballet greats when they retire." 🙄

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/what-happens-to-male-ballet-greats-when-they-retire-

2 hours ago, abatt said:

Why would someone with a new baby at home, who has numerous other lucrative, less time consuming  opportunities, even consider doing this?

Yes, it seems to me Copeland has better things to do.

I also remember interviews with McKenzie about taking the job. He was worried about his lack of experience, but was told that since ABT was a sinking ship, no one would hold failure against him. 

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Copeland knew that her progress was derailed because of injury, but that's been the case for many great dancers.  Is Tiler Peck not a great dancer because her back injury limits her range of motion?

I'll preface by saying I don't think the litmus test of a ballerina is whether she can do 32 fouettes.  I've seen her dance occasionally over the years, and I think her promotion, like Abrera's, was well-deserved, and too late.  I think McKenzie milked the controversy of "Will she be made Principal" until the cow was dead.

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I think with David Hallberg or Tiler Peck enough people remembered them pre-injury to know what was lost due to injury.

I think Misty was on the cusp of greatness and injury derailed her development. She still got starring roles but her range was limited post-injury.

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Copeland didn't have as many major, principal role opportunities pre-injury as some of the other dancers mentioned above in @Helene's post--I can't get the quote function to work. Did Copeland, before her injury, dance any of the lead ballerina roles in the nineteenth-century repertory at ABT other than Gamzatti and perhaps Gulnare?  (If those...I'm not 100 percent sure about my dates.) Peasant pas de deux--and I remember hers as delightful--is not the same thing.

Ratmansky's Firebird was something of a breakthrough in terms of drawing attention and praise for Copeland in a major, even "star" part though, obviously not a nineteenth-century one. But she danced it just a couple of times before being out for . . . what was it? nearly a year? 

As a company director I do think that at the least Copeland would have the potential to be a very successful fundraiser and that is a big part of the job.

Edited by Drew
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I hate this kind of article.  All it did was give haters and racists of various stripes yet another opportunity to denigrate Misty Copeland and ballet in general.  And it's shockingly trivial about the serious situation ABT is in.  There was no rhyme or reason in mentioning Ketanji Brown Jackson in the same article,  except to set up the proposition that a Black woman attaining a high position in one field means that a Black woman is the logical choice for another high profile job.  It's disgusting.

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I'm sure Kaufman thinks that she is being helpful, but there are bound to be people who take her suggestion the wrong way. I'm beginning to wonder if there is such a thing as a non-controversial candidate for a public-facing Arts executive position.

Copeland MIGHT do well in the role - and there have been numerous dancers given the A.D. role at big companies who have managed to succeed. The problem is that there is no way to guarantee success when she lacks experience as an Arts manager or executive. She does know about the ballet world and the favored repertoire at ABT, and knows something about working with choreographers, but that doesn't help with the managerial portion of the job. To be sure, an understanding of big dollar fundraising, and budgeting and hiring, is important. And an ability to both please, and get worthwhile things from, the Board of Directors is a must. But there is also the managing of other humans that takes up a lot of an A.D.'s time. A good A.D. has a vision for a company (and the repertoire), but also knows how to sell it to her artists, choreographers, the orchestra, the Board, the company school, the audience, and keep them all inspired and in a positive frame of mind at all times. She's going to have to develop lasting relationships with top choreographers, and hopefully nurture budding ones. And an A.D. has to be able to let people go in a humane way. It's really nothing like being an artist - Alexei Ratmansky and Benjamin Millepied could speak to that.

I remember Helgi Tomasson talking about directing SFB during the last 2 years of pandemic, and so much of his time was spent trying to find ways to keep the dancers inspired and busy. He of course never envisioned a period in which it was impossible to perform on stage, and really difficult to even have the dancers together in class. So somehow he had to find ways to keep everyone in a relationship with one another as a team and organization. And make them feel that there was a future for what they were doing. The pandemic is an extreme case of course, and has tested many a manager. But it is a reminder that many aspects of a directorship are not very glamorous.

Edited by pherank
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Not that I know of.

As far as experience is concerned, she's been involved in a number of ballet-related programs and initiatives. And how many men, mostly male principal dancers, are hired to run ballet companies without prior or with minimal prior experience managing anything?  That would be most of them.   And experience doesn't guarantee a happy company.  For me, it would be a matter of who applied and what relative strengths each brings to the table.

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My point is that some are using a hypothetical argument as an excuse to vent their racism against Misty Copeland.  I did not "enjoy" the WaPo comments about her "slaggy" calves (what does that even mean?)  or her supposedly "poor feet",  which is ludicrous.  I really wish people would just be upfront and say they don't like her because she's a Black woman - albeit one who enjoys lightskinned privilege - who is frank about racism.  They would prefer that she be like Francesca Hayward,  who once claimed that she never was treated any differently from white dancers at the Royal Ballet School or in the Royal Ballet.  (Hayward has since stated that she did experience racist treatment,  but didn't want to recognize it,  probably out of a sense of self protection.)

Like her or not,  Copeland has been very valuable to ballet in general and ABT in particular.  Her great sin is that,  to some,  she isn't sufficiently grateful for the opportunities she's been given.  Doubtless they would be happier if she would just shut up and dance.

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On 5/23/2022 at 11:17 AM, canbelto said:

No she's on maternity leave.

According to ABT On Pointe, which just arrived in the mail, Misty Copeland and husband Olu Evans "welcomed their first child on April 2, 2022." (p. 2 - Company News)

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22 minutes ago, California said:

According to ABT On Pointe, which just arrived in the mail, Misty Copeland and husband Olu Evans "welcomed their first child on April 2, 2022." (p. 2 - Company News)

Congrats to them.

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4 hours ago, California said:

According to ABT On Pointe, which just arrived in the mail, Misty Copeland and husband Olu Evans "welcomed their first child on April 2, 2022." (p. 2 - Company News)

Lovely news--Congratulations to them!

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