Misty Moves Mountains
Unless you’ve been living in solitude for the past year and a half, you know exactly who Misty Copeland is (and you don’t even have to be a dancer). I’ll spare you the details of her up-and-coming to stardom, as this is a story we’ve all heard already. Instead, I want to point to something people don’t want to talk about…
The Thing You’re Not Supposed to Say
Misty Copeland is a black woman (duh). I know this probably seems very obvious, but dance has a way of making people forget little things like skin color, and white privelage. It’s part of the magic. To say that Misty has had an uphill battle would be an understatement, and we (as does she)can only thank the African-American pioneers of dance that came before her to pave a way: People like Alvin Ailey, Katherine Dunham, Arthur Mitchell, and Albert Evans. But it’s no secret that along with the prestige of Ballet, comes a “member’s only” club that very few ethnic dancers get invited into…
The question is: WHY did Misty get promoted??
I’m gonna try to keep this short and sweet:
Am I saying that Misty didn’t work her ass off to get where she is?
Am I saying that Misty doesn’t deserve it?
Am I saying that she has gained a lot of media attention as of late, and maybe Kevin McKenzie (ABT’s current artistic director) and partners have been feeling the pressure of her fans to promote her?
This is a major turning point in the company’s history, you don’t think the thought of capitalizing on Misty’s popularity for profit has crossed one or two board members’ minds? Not to mention the praise they would get for such a ground breaking decision, to be the firsts to bring up the first African-American woman to be a principle dancer? That’s a double whammy in equality and opportunity. It kinda makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
Oh the lives led
For those of you who in fact were unaware of her existence, here is her Under Armour commercial that received over 8 million views, here’s where you can get copies of her books (yes, she writes too!) and she’s even written memoirs you can purchase, AND here she is dancing for freaking PRINCE!(sorry…I mean the artist formerly known as Prince.)
The NY Times does a really good job of capturing this moment, and you can see that article here.
Still, She’s pretty awesome…I mean, look at her!
Some would argue that it doesn’t really matter why she was promoted, just the fact that she was is amazing, and they’d be right. I know Misty to be an advocate for young minority women in dance and that’s an incredible thing within itself, so I know she takes on this role with great dignity and responsibility. There is no doubt in my mind she will not only do it justice, but she’ll do us aspiring minority women dancers proud, and will us to do the same. I do know that when you’re given an opportunity, you take it and run! And if you happen to ALSO have a platform, how you got there really doesn’t matter as much as what you do when you get there.
Take it Misty, and fly!