Misty Copeland Leaps into Role in Disney’s “Nutcracker” Movie

Misty Copeland attends the American Ballet 75th Anniversary Fall Gala on October 21, 2015 in New York City.

Misty Copeland attends the American Ballet 75th Anniversary Fall Gala on October 21, 2015 in New York City. (photo via cnn.com)

article by Lisa Respers France via cnn.com

Misty Copeland is making the leap — or maybe a grand jeté — to the big screen.  The prima ballerina has nabbed a role in Disney‘s forthcoming “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” movie.  Copeland posted a picture of the script on her Instagram account with the caption: “I’m thrilled to be a part of this amazing project with Disney and the wonderful Lasse Hallstrom. #TheNutcracker #MoreToCome.”

The studio announced the live-action film back in March and Hallstrom is set to direct.

Copeland has been lauded for breaking down barriers as an African-American dancer and is the subject of Nelson George‘s 2015 documentary “A Ballerina’s Tale.”  For the upcoming film, she reportedly will appear as the lead ballerina in the “Nutcracker’s” only dance scene.

Prima Ballerina Misty Copeland Gets Her Own Barbie Doll


Misty Copeland and her doll (photo courtesy MATTEL INC.)

article by Yesha Callahan via theroot.com

Misty Copeland has been immortalized by Mattel. The Barbie creator debuted its Misty Copeland doll today and, like Ava DuVernay’s doll, it’ll likely fly off the shelves.

The doll that honors Copeland, who made history when she became the first African-American woman to be named principal dancer at the world-renowned American Ballet Theatre, is just another step in Mattel’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and part of its Sheroes Collection.

“I always dreamed of becoming an ABT ballerina, and through Barbie, I was able to play out those dreams early on,” Copeland said in a press release. “It’s an honor to be able to inspire the next generation of kids with my very own Barbie doll.”

The Misty Copeland doll will is available for preorder on Amazon.com and Mattel’s site.

Black Girls Do Ballet to Publish “The Ballerina’s Little Black Book” on June 6


article via clutchmagonline.com

In 2013, TaKiyah Wallace started Brown Girls Do Ballet as a photography project aimed at highlighting women of color in the dance world. As a mom of a tiny dancer and a fan of the art form herself, Wallace was aware of the lack of coverage dancers of color received.

Three years later Wallace runs a popular Instagram account with more than 80,000 followers that features brown ballerinas, and her organization supports young dancers by not only giving them a platform to shine, but also providing scholarships to help young girls continue their studies. Now, Brown Girls Do Ballet is releasing a book.


Titled The Ballerina’s Little Black Book, the new project by former dancer and Brown Girls Do Ballet co-founder Brittani Marie features interviews with dancers like Misty Copeland, Aesha Ash, and Alicia Graf Mack as well as gorgeous pictures of dancers of color. Continue reading

Choreographer Camille A. Brown Wins Prestigious $25,000 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award

Fana Fraser, left, and Beatrice Capote in “Black Girl: Linguistic Play,” at the Joyce Theater. (Credit: Christopher Duggan)

article by Joshua Barone via nytimes.com

Camille A. Brown, the socially conscious dancer and choreographer, is this year’s winner of the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award, an honor that comes with a $25,000 cash prize and an engagement at the summer festival.

She was chosen by the incoming Jacob’s Pillow Director Pamela Tatge, who takes over on April 18. In an interview, she called Ms. Brown “hugely important,” and lauded her offstage work advocating for black female artists.  “Someone who generates dialogue in communities is the kind of artist that really excites me,” Ms. Tatge said. She added that Ms. Brown is a “deep researcher” who tackles social issues through “extremely present, theatrical” choreography.

Choreographer/dancer Camille A. Brown (photo via berkshireonstage.com)

Choreographer/dancer Camille A. Brown (photo via berkshireonstage.com)

As part of the award, Ms. Brown will have a creative development residency at Jacob’s Pillow, where she will spend one or two weeks shaping her new work, “ink.” In addition, her dance Black Girl: Linguistic Play,” which received favorable reviews when it appeared at the Joyce Theater in September, will be staged at Jacob’s Pillow in 2017. “When I started creating this work, I wanted there to be a duality, a culturally specific work with universal themes,” Ms. Brown said in a statement, referring to “Black Girl.” “This work speaks to the human condition, and because of that, I hope people are able to see themselves in the work, regardless of race or gender.”

Ms. Brown, who won a Bessie award for her 2014 work “Mr. TOL E. RAncE,” began dancing with Ronald K. Brown’s company in 2001. She also appeared with other troupes before founding Camille A. Brown & Dancers several years ago.

To read more, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/23/arts/dance/jacobs-pillow-dance-to-honor-camille-a-brown.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0

FEATURE: Misty Copeland Channels Degas’ Ballerinas for Photo Shoot, Opens Up about Making History

Copeland re-creates Degas’s The Star; Valentino dress, $15,500, 212-355-5811; Wilhelm headpiece, $495, and corsages, $135, wilhelm-nyc.com; Mokuba ribbon, $11 per yard, 212-869-8900. Photos by Ken Browar & Deborah Ory (via harpersbazaar.com)

Ballet dancers, Misty Copeland tells me, like to be in control. It’s something about ballet itself—the painstaking quest to achieve the appearance of a kind of effortless athleticism, fluidity, and grace—that makes it hard to let go. “I think all dancers are control freaks a bit,” she explains. “We just want to be in control of ourselves and our bodies. That’s just what the ballet structure, I think, kind of puts inside of you. If I’m put in a situation where I am not really sure what’s going to happen, it can be overwhelming. I get a bit anxious.”

Copeland says that’s part of the reason she found posing for the images that accompany this story—which were inspired by Edgar Degas‘s paintings and sculptures of dancers at the Paris Opéra Ballet—a challenge. “It was interesting to be on a shoot and to not have the freedom to just create like I normally do with my body,” she says. “Trying to re-create what Degas did was really difficult. It was amazing just to notice all of the small details but also how he still allows you to feel like there’s movement. That’s what I think is so beautiful and difficult about dance too. You’re trying to strive for this perfection, but you still want people to get that illusion that your line never ends and that you never stop moving.”

It should probably come as no surprise that Copeland would have trouble conforming to someone else’s idea of what a ballerina should look like; she gave that up a long time ago. At 33, she’s in the midst of the most illuminating pas de deux with pop culture for a classical dancer since Mikhail Baryshnikov went toe-to-toe with Gregory Hines in White Nights. Last June, she was named a principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre, the first African-American woman to hold that distinction.

Copeland as Swaying Dancer (Dancer in Green); Oscar de la Renta dress, $5,490, 212-288-5810; Mokuba ribbon, $11 per yard; Hatmaker by Jonathan Howard headpiece corsage, $70, hatmaker.com.au. (photo by Ken Browar & Deborah Ory)

She was also the subject of a documentary, Nelson George’s A Ballerina’s Tale, which chronicled her triumph over depression and body-image issues, as well as her comeback from a career-threatening leg injury in 2012. The story of her rise from living in a single room in a welfare motel with her mother and five siblings to the uppermost reaches of the dance world has become a sort of 21st-century parable: the unlikely ballerina, as Copeland referred to herself in the subtitle of her 2014 memoir, Life in Motion, who may be on her way to becoming the quintessential ballerina of her time.

Degas’s ballet works, which the artist began creating in the 1860s and continued making until the years before his death, in 1917, were infused with a very modern sensibility. Instead of idealized vis -ions of delicate creatures pirouetting onstage, he offered images of young girls congregating, practicing, laboring, dancing, training, and hanging around studios and the backstage areas of the theater. Occasionally, portly men or dark figures appear, directing or otherwise coloring the proceedings. “People call me the painter of dancing girls,” Degas is said to have once told his Paris art dealer Ambroise Vollard, the Larry Gagosian of the day. “It has never occurred to them that my chief interest in dancers lies in rendering movement and painting pretty clothes.” It’s an unsentimental place, Degas’s ballet, and his representation of the dancers is far from sympathetic. But it’s a space where he discovered not only a freedom for himself as an artist but also a kind of beauty that existed behind all the beauty of the performance and in the struggle of his subjects to become something.

Copeland as Degas’s Dancer; Carolina Herrera top, $1,490, skirt, $4,990, 212-249-6552; Hatmaker by Jonathan Howard headpiece, $750, hatmaker.com.au; Mokuba ribbon, $11 per yard, 212-869-8900; Mood Fabrics fabric (worn as a belt), 212-230-5003. (photo by Ken Browar & Deborah Ory)

“Degas’s focus on dance is part of his engagement with depicting the subjects, spaces, rhythms, and sensations of modern life,” says Jodi Hauptman, senior curator in the department of drawings and prints at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, where an exhibition that explores Degas’s extensive work in monotype, “Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty,” opens this month. “His vision wanders and focuses, taking note of what usually is overlooked and homing in on what best reflects the conditions of his time.”

In her own way, Copeland is now forcing people to look at ballet through a more contemporary lens. “I see a great affinity between Degas’s dancers and Misty,” says Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem. “She has knocked aside a long-standing music-box stereotype of the ballerina and replaced it with a thoroughly modern, multicultural image of presence and power,” Golden says. “Misty reminds us that even the greatest artists are humans living real lives.”

“I definitely feel like I can see myself in that sculpture…Ballet was just the one thing that brought me to life.”

The first blush with ballet for Copeland was famously unromantic. Her mother, Sylvia DelaCerna, was a cheerleader for the Kansas City Chiefs, and her older sister had been a member of the drill team at their middle school in Hawthorne, near their home in San Pedro, California. So, at the age of 13, Copeland decided to try out for the drill squad herself, choreographing her own routine—to George Michael’s “I Want Your Sex.” “An odd choice of song,” she says. “I chose ‘I Want Your Sex’ not really knowing anything about what that meant. But that’s how my whole dance career took off.”

Copeland as Degas’s Little Dancer Aged Fourteen; Alexander McQueen dress, $4,655, and corset, $4,525, 212-645-1797; Mood Fabrics ribbon (in hair), 212-230-5003. (photo by Ken Browar & Deborah Ory)

Copeland didn’t just make the team; she was named captain. Her drill coach, Elizabeth Cantine, had a background in classical dance and suggested that Copeland try taking a ballet class at the local Boys & Girls Club. “The class was given on a basketball court, and I was wearing my gym clothes and socks—pretty far from a Degas painting,” Copeland recalls. But she was hooked. Within three months, she was dancing en pointe. “Before dance came into my life, I don’t really remember having any major goals or dreams of wanting to be anything. In the environment I grew up in, we were constantly in survival mode,” Copeland says. “I went to school, and I was really just trying to fit in and not be seen. But ballet was this thing that just felt so innate in me, like I was meant to be doing this.”

To read more go to: http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/art-books-music/a14055/misty-copeland-degas-0316/?mag=har&list=nl_hnl_news&src=nl&date=021016

Lee Daniels Directing Apollo Theater Documentary “The Apollo Theater Project”

Lee Daniels Directing Apollo Theater Documentary


article by Dave McNary via Variety.com

Lee Daniels (“Precious”, “The Butler”, “Empire”) will direct the documentary feature film “The Apollo Theater Film Project,” an authorized history of New York’s famed venue.

“I am honored to be entrusted with the story of this incredible American iconic institution and work with this team,” Daniels said. “I used to go to the Apollo Theater as a kid and never in a million years would I have imagined I would be back to be doing this – it is very special for me.”

Lee Daniels (photo via slate.com)

Director Lee Daniels (photo via slate.com)

The Apollo began operating in 1934 during the Harlem Renaissance and became the most prized venue on the “Chitlin’ Circuit” during the time of racial segregation in the United States. The Apollo was a key launch venue for Ella Fitzgerald, Jimi Hendrix and the Jackson Five. Performers have included Aretha Franklin, Nat King Cole, Gladys Knight, Sammy Davis Jr. and Billie Holiday.

White Horse Pictures’ Nigel Sinclair and Jeanne Elfant Festa are producing the project. Daniels and Jonelle Procope, the president and CEO of the Apollo Theater, are asking members of the public, audience-goers and fans for film footage, home movies, photographs or other memorabilia.

“We are asking members of the community who have been to the Apollo, who may have parents or grandparents or other family members or friends who have done so, to help us find any material — audience footage, photographs or other memories that we can use in our documentary film,” Daniels and Procope said.

The project has established a website (www.apollotheaterdocumentary.com) for anyone who wants to submit. “We will, of course, respect everybody’s ownership of their property,” Daniels and Procope said.

To read more, go to: http://variety.com/2016/film/news/lee-daniels-director-apollo-theater-documentary-1201691098/

“Prancing Elites Project” Season 2 Premieres on Oxygen at 8PM EST Tonight


Oxygen Media’s empowering docu-series “The Prancing Elites Project” returns for a second season with an expanded hour-long format beginning tonight, Tuesday, January 19 at 8PM ET/PT.  If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing the Prancing Elites in action – set your DVRs for an experience that will not disappoint.  The Elites are five African American, gay and gender non-conformists who are an award-winning J-Setting dance team from Mobile, AL – Adrian Clemons, Kentrell Collins, Kareem Davis, Jerel Maddox and Tim Smith. 

Prancing Elites

As a fan, I watched season 1 in its entirety – it’s funny and outrageous as well as tender and heart-warming, all in the face of very real prejudice and adversity – and I could not wait to see more.  “The Prancing Elites Project” was Oxygen’s highest-rated new series of 2015, and as a result, the Elites have begun to defy the odds and find success and acceptance in the South as well as other parts of the U.S.  And if the second season is as promising as its premiere (I saw an advance screening), Oxygen might as well dust off the green light for Season 3.

Good Black News had the chance to chat with the Elites about the second season and what it has in store (and like any good entertainers, they left us wanting more): 

Good Black News: Kentrell, this season we see you’re in a relationship and it’s teased that you still want to have children. You had fun with that last season – caring for the doll as the baby -but what steps this season are you taking towards fulfilling your dream of becoming a parent?

Kentrell: I can’t really say what steps I’ve taken [we have to watch!], but I actually still want to, because everybody in my family has kids except me now.

You also seem to focus a lot on trying to move the team to the next level.  What would be the ultimate fantasy goal for you as the team leader for the Prancing Elites?

Honestly… the sky is the limit. We could tour… we can act, we can sing… we can put on these big, lavish shows. But it all comes with hard work – nothing in this life comes easy and that’s one of the things that I’m always stressing. If we want to get to the next level we’ve got to constantly keep working… If we were ever to perform during Super Bowl halftime, that would be the best of the best.  And we would love to perform with Beyoncé, obviously…

Of course!

We’ve also talked about performing on big award shows like Grammys, the Oscars and entertaining there.

Tim, it’s teased this season that you’ll be dealing with issues around your identity. Can you talk about that if it doesn’t spoil anything?

Tim: I’m basically an easygoing person… whatever floats your boat, if I could sum it up.  I know what I want to be called, but my sisters just think you shouldn’t let a person call you something you’re not comfortable being called… so it’s about owning up about who I really want to be… and not letting a person walk over me and do what they want to do. It’s about having confidence.

Which ultimately is an issue we all can relate to… The show is mainly shot in your hometown of Mobile, Alabama. Are you celebrities there now?

Yeah. Because every time a person sees us, they always scream, “Oh my God, it’s y’all!” and they want to take a picture. I love it… I like that people like us.

Jerel, it sets up in the premiere that you have a deep interest in make-up artistry. Is it something you are interested in pursuing professionally?

Jerel:  I love the beauty that you can get from make up. I never feel like make-up makes someone beautiful – I only feel like make-up enhances a person’s beauty… I see myself possibly one day having my own make-up line and working for celebrities all around the world, and also making YouTube tutorials and things of that nature.  I love my hometown, but in order to pursue my passion which is make up… I would have to be in a bigger environment like New York, LA or Atlanta.

How do you stay dedicated to the team and balance your individual interests?

There’s a line – you just have to find the balance. I don’t even know how to explain it – you can’t spend more time on one to another.  You’ve got to find an equal balance.

Adrian, some of the highlights from the first episode are when you are mentoring the young women’s dance team, especially the moments with Amber, who is plus-sized. What do you hope to accomplish with those girls and that team?

Adrian: I wanted to mentor young women because a lot of them look up to the way I dance.  So I thought it would be nice if I could, you know, give some of my tips and some of my movements to them and share it with them.

Did you sense or know it would lead into helping them with deeper issues like self-esteem?

That was really unexpected. I didn’t know it was going to lead to that. But me working with them, I’m growing more and I’m finding out more about myself. I take myself more serious now, because I have my little ones that look up to me and I want to lead them toward the right path.

So you’ve become a role model… unexpectedly.

Most definitely apparent.

Did you growing up have any mentors in dance? Was there anybody to help you when you were trying to pursue your interest at a younger age?

No, not really, because when I first started doing it, I kind of kept it secret because I didn’t know how people around me would take it. So I kind of did it on my own behind closed doors. The older I got, then I didn’t care about what people think.

Are you still living with Tim and her boyfriend?

[Hesitates] Yes… I still live with Tim.

Hmm… interesting.  Okay, that’s fine, I’ll leave it there.  Kareem, it’s so great to see you smiling and so much happier this season after dealing with all you were dealing with last season [Kareem revealed he is HIV-positive].

Kareem: Thank you.

Are you still active in the HIV awareness campaign?

Yes, but it’s more education than anything else. Whenever I learn something, in an intimate setting I educate others.  I need to speak to my manager about making [more] appearances at events. It’s not happening now but it will eventually.

What can you tell me about the situation where you chose to coach your boyfriend on a competing dance team? I’m wondering what kind of internal conflict did you have over making that decision?

The main conflict was trying to regain the connection with the Prancing Elites. Because going through everything I went through [last season], I disconnected from a lot of different aspects of my life. But I’m no longer going through that and I’m coming back full circle and now we have all these issues as a group, so I’m having to focus on mentoring a team and reconnecting with the rest of the team that I’m on. In the beginning the balance was a bit shaky because there was so much going on with the Prancing Elites… and I hadn’t planned to be that intensely involved right then [with the competing team].  So… I didn’t go crazy but when I was asked to, but I thought I would probably go crazy. But you’ll see how everything works out throughout the different situations in the season.  I don’t think I gained any grey hair from it…

We can’t wait to watch.  In the meantime, anything coming up that people can know about?

Adrian: We’re still pretty.

We know that, Adrian.

Kentrell:  We’re doing Mardi Gras parades on February 1st and the 6th in Mobile, AL.

Prancing Elites: It’s a party!!!!!!

The Prancing Elites are also scheduled to do some international appearances in the coming months. For more information and dates, go to their Facebook page or their Twitter @PrancingElites.

For more of “The Prancing Elites Project,” fans can visit the official show site to see exclusive videos, dance footage, GIFs, photos, interactive polls, interviews and bios.  Viewers can also create and share memes after each episode. Check out the official Facebook page, and join the conversation on Twitter or Instagram using hashtag #PrancingElites.

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson, GBN Editor-in-Chief

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson, GBN Editor-in-Chief