Tag: American Ballet Theatre

Prima Ballerina Misty Copeland Gets Her Own Barbie Doll

ht_misty_copeland_barbie_doll_2_jt_160429_12x5_1600
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.

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

Misty Copeland and Brooklyn Mack to Dance “Swan Lake” at DC’s Kennedy Center on April 9

Prima Ballerina Misty Copeland (Photo: hellogiggles.com)
Prima Ballerina Misty Copeland (Photo: hellogiggles.com)

History will be made at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater on the evening of Thursday, April 9, when Misty Copeland, a soloist with the American Ballet Theatre, joins Brooklyn Mack of the Washington Ballet in a performance of Swan LakeCopeland and Mack, both African American, will go where no dancers of color have gone before. They will become the first African Americans to dance the leading roles of Odette/Odile and Prince Siegfried respectively in the traditional ballet.

Ballet dancer Brooklyn Mack (Photo:
Ballet dancer Brooklyn Mack (Photo: ballet.co.uk)

There should be little doubt that Copeland—a rising star at the American Ballet Theater who gained notoriety after appearing in a widely noticed Under Armour advertising campaign—and Mack—trained at Washington’s Kirov Academy of Ballet and Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet—have demonstrated ample talent on ballet stages around the world. Their appearance as leads in Swan Lake would be seen merely as appropriate next steps in their expanding careers if they were white.

Their success should remind all Washingtonians of the pioneering role that D.C. has played in promoting African-American dance. As dance historian Tamara Brown has noted, the juxtaposition of academic training at Howard University and the numerous popular theaters along U Street nurtured a creative center for African-American dance during much of the 20th century. Howard University’s Maryrose Reeves Allen stood at the heart of this energetic scene.

Allen, who was born in Louisville, Ky., in 1899, earned her college degree at the Sargent School in Massachusetts before teaching summer school at the Hampton Institute in Virginia, then the country’s leading center for the study of African dance. She joined the Howard faculty in 1925 as the director of a new physical education program for women.

Allen’s arrival coincided with the heyday of the Howard University Players under the leadership of T. Montgomery Gregory and Alain Locke. Two years after coming to the Howard campus, Allen established a group that would grow to become the Howard University Dance Ensemble, one of the era’s most inspired African-American companies.

Allen’s dancers penetrated the world of white concert dance by the 1950s, performing with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington and on many integrated stages in New York City. Her students—including Debbie Allen, Chuck Davis, Melvin Deal, Ulysses Dove and George Faison—populated major classical and modern dance companies throughout the U.S., from Broadway stages to Hollywood studios. They nurtured a lively dance scene in Washington that spawned the Capitol Ballet and professional companies associated with the Black Arts Movement during the 1960s and 1970s.

Maryrose Reeves Allen remained active in the Howard University and dance communities after her retirement in 1967. In 1991, one year before Allen’s death, Howard became the first historically black university to offer a degree in dance through its Department of Theatre Arts. Her spirit will be very much present at the Kennedy Center as Copeland and Mack step center stage.

article by Blair Ruble via theroot.com

Ballerina Misty Copeland Lands Reality Series at Oxygen

misty copeland

Cable channel Oxygen has put into development a docuseries following renowned ballerina Misty Copeland.

The show, tentatively titled “The Misty Copeland Project,” follows talented hopefuls from diverse backgrounds as they descend upon New York to take on the next major step in their ballet careers. Who better to train and mentor them than Copeland — the celebrated ballerina who herself has defied all odds and shattered boundaries by overcoming the cultural pressures of professional ballet.

968full-misty-copeland

Copeland, who began taking ballet lessons on the basketball court of a Boys & Girls Club at age 13 and was considered a prodigy, made history by becoming the second African-American female soloist in the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. With the opportunity of a lifetime and chance to catapult to the top of the ballet world, these aspiring dancers’ passion, commitment and hard work will be center stage in Misty’s Master Class.

The show is one of four new reality programs added at the NBCUniversal-owned network as part of its rebranded push for young, multicultural women ages 18-34, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. Other new shows follow young Americans teaching English abroad, aspiring celebrity vloggers and groups of friends dishing about current events during cocktail hour.

“From the unbelievably inspirational and talented Misty Copeland, to the bold young women experiencing life abroad, the new development slate appeals to a multitude of female viewers,” said Cori Abraham, senior vp development and international at Oxygen Media. “These projects embrace the new Oxygen programming filter, which focuses on real characters who are on a journey to seek out new experiences and follow their true passions in life.”

article via eurweb.com

Ballerina Misty Copeland Becomes First African American to Perform Solo in New York for 20 Years

Star turn: Copeland stars in 'Le Corsaire,' a pirate-themed comedic ballet, at New York City's Metropolitan Opera June 4-8

The prestigious American Ballet Theatre’s first black soloist in twenty years took the stage last week, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg in the unlikely, groundbreaking life of ballerina Misty Copeland. The 30-year-old beauty starred in ‘Le Corsaire’ at the Metropolitan Opera House from June 4-8, but her star turn is just one of a string of firsts and a fascinating life story she brings along with her.

For starters, Copeland, a native of San Pedro, California, grew up in extreme poverty. She didn’t even know what ballet was when she was spotted by an instructor at her local Boys and Girls Club at 13. Which brings up another unlikely fact in Copeland’s life—she didn’t even begin training in ballet until her early teen years.

‘I had no introduction to the arts in any way definitely not the fine arts,’ Copeland told the New York Post of her childhood, part of which was spent living out of a motel room with her mother. ‘Survival was our Number 1 priority, not extracurriculars, or a career,’ she said. ‘These were not things we thought about.’ She was destined, however, to think a lot about those things. In fact, she would soon be thinking of nothing but.

Racy: Copeland danced atop Prince's piano as part of one of his signature sexy performances, this one in his 2010-2011 'Welcome 2 America' tour
Copeland danced atop Prince’s piano as part of one of his signature sexy performances, this one in his 2010-2011 ‘Welcome 2 America’ tour

A ballet instructor named Cynthia Bradley spotted Copeland’s potential and told her she was ‘You are the most gifted dancer I’ve ever seen, and this could be a path to have a career.’ And that’s what it became. But at 13, Copeland was at a major disadvantage. Whereas most ballerinas start at the age of 5, with money and eager parents backing them. Copeland was not so lucky.

Continue reading “Ballerina Misty Copeland Becomes First African American to Perform Solo in New York for 20 Years”

Ballerina Misty Copeland Dances into Two-Book Deal

misty-copeland-hb

(Misty Copeland/Photo: Hello Beautiful) 

Ballet dancer Misty Copeland has a two-book deal.  Copeland, 30, is working on a memoir for Simon & Schuster‘s Touchstone imprint and picture book for G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, part of Penguin Group (USA). Copeland helped break ground as an African-American female soloist for the American Ballet Theatre. According to a release Wednesday by the two publishers, both of her books are scheduled for 2014.

In her memoir, Copeland is expected to describe the battles between her mother and her dance instructors while she was a teen over whether she should be allowed to pursue her career and who was her legal guardian.

article via blackamericaweb.com

Michaela DePrince: Ballerina Dances Out of War-Torn Childhood

As a toddler, Michaela DePrince, was ranked “number 27” — the lowest, the worst of the children in her orphanage in Sierra Leone. “So, I got the least amount of food, the least amount of clothes and what not,” she explained to the Associated Press. DePrince lost both of her parents in the West African nation’s decades-long civil war which claimed the lives of an estimated 60,000 people. She was born with vitiligo, a skin disorder that causes uneven pigmentation, and was taunted by the other kids as “the devil’s child.” Fourteen years later, she is considered one of the most promising teenage ballet dancers in the United States. Recently graduated from the American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, the 17-year-old debuts professionally on July 20, as a guest artist of the South African Ballet Theater and the South Africa Msanzi Ballet performing in ‘Le Corsaire.’

DePrince recalls her early childhood as a time of “terrible” hardship. The one thing that gave her hope was a picture of a ballerina from a magazine that blew over the orphanage walls, which she hid under her clothing. Though she had no context for the image, she says, “I remember she looked really, really happy,” and DePrince longed “to become this exact person.” She also imagined that all Americans walked on tip toes.

Watch: Ballet Theater of Harlem

After a year in the orphanage, DePrince had to flee barefoot when it was threatened with bomb attacks. She was only four-years-old. She ended up in a Ghanaian refugee camp, where she met an American volunteer, Elaine DePrince, who would become her adopted mother. “Michaela arrived with the worst case of tonsillitis, fever, mononucleosis, and joints that were swollen,” remembers Elaine. She was also suffering from trauma. “I have a lot of bad memories,” the young dancer told theGuardian UK in a recent interview. “I remember losing my family, I remember seeing a lot of rebels killing people that I knew. It was disgusting and just revolting.”

Although it took her years to fully recover, Michaela says, “Dance helped me a lot. I had a lot of nightmares.” However, DePrince had to overcome even more than physical and psychological damage to become a professional ballet dancer in the United States. Rehearsing for ‘The Nutcracker‘ when she was eight-years-old, a teacher told her “I’m sorry, you can’t do it. America’s not ready for a black girl as Marie.” She refused to let it hold her back. “If you enjoy my dancing, why should my skin color or body type bother you?” she told the NY Post. Dirk Badenhorst, CEO South Africa Mzansi Ballet, concurs: “Brilliance is colorblind and it really is proved by Michaela.”

DePrince hopes her story will inspire other young people to follow their dreams no matter how distant they seem. “I would like to change the way people see black dancers,” she says. “I just want to be a great role model for kids.”

article by Sarah B. Weir, Yahoo! blogger | Work + Money