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!0 Black Female Ballet Dancers who Aren't Misty Copeland


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This artlcle in Atlanta Black Star highlights other black ballerinas.

Believe it or not, some of us black folks are interested in other black female dancers other than Misty, but because it's hard to get info on ballerinas of any color, for ballet dancers of color, it's next to impossible.

I'm proud to say I'd heard about all these dancers except the young woman from POB. And even she was on the radar of some black ballet fans because we saw her in the POB defile du ballet.

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It would be nice to include Andrea Long-Naidu a member of NYCB in the 1980s and then a principle dancer with Dance theatre of Harlem for 13 years.

I have tried repeatedly to post a link but it will not post for some reason. Please Google: www.blackpast.org/aah/long-andrea

She joined Pennsylvania Ballet in 1985 (I am guessing around age 16, after having spent her entire schooling period in that school) soon after she was at ABT, attempting to enter the corps but landed at SAB for a few months, after which she received a corps contract to NYCB. The Bio in the link does not say but she was there until 1991 maybe 1993, at least after which she went to Dance Theatre of Harlem as a principle, where she remained for 13 years.

She now teaches at the school of The Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Different time in the 1980's. She could dance anything.

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I'm sorry the list doesn't include Birmingham Royal Ballet's Céline Gittens, who's danced Odette-Odile, even, and with a black Siegfried.

http://www.brb.org.uk/masque/index.htm?act=Person&urn=36953

This news report previewed her debut in the part in 2012, although the awkward insistence on calling her the UK's first "non-white" Swan Queen overlooked the fact that Ravenna Tucker and Miyako Yoshida, for example, had danced the part at the Royal Ballet long before.

And at the Vienna State Ballet Rebecca Horner was pretty sensational in reprising the role Judith Jamison originated in The Legend of Joseph.
http://www.wiener-staatsoper.at/Content.Node/home/kuenstler/taenzerinnen/Horner.en.php

But credit to the Atlanta Black Star for producing a better list than the Huffington Post did.

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Nashville Ballet's Kayla Rowser rehearsing

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Yes, there are black female classical dancers other than Misty. And hopefully her high profile will spark interest in some of them.

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I'm proud to say I'd heard about all these dancers except the young woman from POB. And even she was on the radar of some black ballet fans because we saw her in the POB defile du ballet.

Or perhaps they were thinking of coryphée Letizia Galloni. At present she is paired with half Moroccan Mathias Heymann in La Fille mal gardée.

Technically Awa Joannais is not the first woman of African descent to join the POB; étoile Myriam Ould-Braham is half Algerian, blond hair notwithstanding.

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Where was Ms. Galloni rehearsing? That didn't look like the POB rehearsal spaces.

And i don't know her nationality, but that young woman couldn't be more French if she tried, from her attitude to the tres chic outfit with the sky high boots.

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That's definitely Wayne Byars! A great teacher, and I feel lucky to have taken his class.

Thank you, Tapfan, for posting this article. Misty Copeland isn't the only one, by far. When I was growing up and taking ballet classes, Virginia Johnson, Stephanie Dabney, and Cassandra Phifer were my role models. I'm happy for Misty's success, and even happier that all this publicity is simultaneously shining a spotlight on the lack of diversity in classical ballet companies and highlighting the ballerinas of color who are soldiering on and dancing.

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Interesting article on related subject matter.

The lack of U.S. classical dancers of African descent is sometimes attributed to wrong body type as if all black women in the U.S. were built the same. This is a mistake that even many black people make. But there are plenty of lanky black women like the one mentioned in this article.

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I thought the trend was for most female principals to be on the tall side, between 5'6" and 5'9." Is that wrong?

While it's much easier for a tall woman to have a reasonable shot at a career in most companies today, the norm is still much shorter. Some companies (my hometown Pacific Northwest Ballet among them) have managed to hire enough tall men and women to make casting slightly less Byzantine, but it's far from standard.

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I thought the trend was for most female principals to be on the tall side, between 5'6" and 5'9." Is that wrong?

The principal ranks at NYCB currently skew "not tall": Ashley Bouder, Megan Fairchild, Sterling Hyltin, Lauren Lovette, Tiler Peck, Ana-Sophia Scheller, Jennie Somogyi, and Abi Stafford are on the shorter side; Maria Kowroski, Rebecca Krohn, Sara Mearns, and Teresa Reichlen on the taller.

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What's frustrating with so many of the black female classical dancers like Precious Adams and Kimberly Braylock, is that they dance in the corps de ballet and it's next to impossible to follow their careers.

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Stumbled across The Museum of Blacks in Ballet earlier today. The timeline and video gallery are still under construction, but the (invaluable!) Roll Call and Discussions sections are up and running.

From the About page:

The story of Blacks in ballet is integral to the story of dance. By creating a digital platform that compiles this less-known oral history in one apolitical online location, MOBB seeks to make this rich history accessible and inspiring by creating high-quality content, promoting larger discussions within the dance community, and providing a platform and role models for emerging Black dancers.

Worth a look see for the Roll Call alone.

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Stumbled across The Museum of Blacks in Ballet earlier today.

Thanks for the link. Clicking on the photos at the bottom of the About page brings one to the museum's Instagram site, and a comment beside the photo of Raven Wilkinson promises an interview with her "next month." I'm looking forward to that.

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What's frustrating with so many of the black female classical dancers like Precious Adams and Kimberly Braylock, is that they dance in the corps de ballet and it's next to impossible to follow their careers.

I'm sure we've all experienced this frustration. While many companies will publish press releases about "joiners," very few let you know about the "leavers" and provide information about where they'll be working next. A new season begins, suddenly a lot of familiar faces are gone, and it's not easy to track them down. Apart from those who work in the biggest companies, it's hard to follow any dancer's career. If not for Twitter feeds, Instagram accounts and the like, it would be nearly impossible, and obviously not everyone feels equally comfortable about chronicling their lives online.

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