Home ArtsDance Misty Copeland Creates Program to Bring More Diversity to Ballet

Misty Copeland Creates Program to Bring More Diversity to Ballet

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Dance superstar Misty Copeland has often spoken about the impact of attending a free ballet class on the basketball court at the Boys and Girls Club in San Pedro, California, where she grew up when she was 13. This class set in motion Copland’s notable career, including becoming the first black woman to be promoted to Principal Her Theater Dancer in American Her Ballet in 2015.

Copeland, now 40, wants to offer a similar experience to a new generation of dancers, especially black and Latino students who are underrepresented in the ballet world. She announced Thursday that her 12-week free program for children ages 8 to her 10 will begin this month. The program serves approximately 120 students at her two boys and girls clubs in New York City.

Copeland described the initiative, known as Be Bold, as “the culmination of my life’s work.” She said she was inspired to create the program in part by Black’s Lives Her Matter movement and protests against racial injustice in the United States.

“Giving back to the community and showing people that ballet should and is inclusive is very important to me,” she said in an interview. It gives opportunities to people who don’t feel included, and offers a new approach to what ballet can look like.”

The program, which offers ballet, music and health training, will be led by artists selected by Copeland and employees of her foundation Copeland founded last year. Our teaching artists are trained by the National Dance Institute, a non-profit arts organization. The program will also include staff from the Madison Square Boys and Girls Club and the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club in New York. The goal is to train hundreds of students in the first year and thousands over the next few years.

Eager to subvert the traditional top-down dynamics in ballet classes, Copeland says she and her program advisers have designed a curriculum centered around the idea of ​​giving students more freedom and flexibility. said he did

“It gives more agency, it gives students more voice, which I think is the complete opposite of what ballet is typically about,” she said. We want to protect the beautiful side: discipline, creativity, and we want to get rid of the old stereotypes that make it a bad experience, especially for black and brown kids.”

The Ford Foundation and the Goldman Sachs Foundation are major contributors to this program.

“Misty Copeland has achieved iconic status in dance for her talent, tenacity and courage to break down barriers in an environment long unwelcome for black women,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, in a statement. I just got it.”

The Be Bold program “provides children of all backgrounds with the foundation and opportunity to pave a wider path to success in dance and life,” he added.

Copeland has been on hiatus since December 2019, before the pandemic. This year, she gave birth to her first child, a boy.

In November, she will publish her second memoir, The Wind at My Back, about her mentor Raven Wilkinson, one of the first black dancers to perform with a major ballet company.

Copeland, who has said he will start training soon for his return to the stage next year, has been changed by the pandemic and his experiences with childbirth.

“Everything feels and looks different to me,” she said.

“I’m thrilled to be back on stage with the big changes happening in the ballet world,” she added. “I’m hopeful for the future of ballet.”

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