Thursday, August 11, 2022

First Look at Misty Copeland’s Documentary, ‘A Ballerina’s Tale’

Misty Copeland

*Many of us had never heard of Misty Copeland until she became the first African-American principal dancer for the American Ballet Theater back in June. Since then, she continues to be a source of inspiration for young Black girls and women, by offering insight into how she overcame the challenges of working in a world where she often felt isolated because she is a woman of color with a body type not typical of your average ballet dancer.

Copland’s incredible journey of poor girl raised by a struggling single mother-to international superstar, is documented in Nelson George’s documentary, “A Ballerina’s Tale.” In it, Copeland speaks on not fitting in-in the predominately white industry of Ballet:

“I’m a Black dancer. That’s who I am. It’s so much a part of my story. I didn’t fit the mold. Based on my body type, pedigree, and background, I should not have been part of one of the world’s greatest ballet companies….I don’t think the ballet world will ever accept me. I have a large chest [and] I’m muscular.”

During an interview with NPR in July, Copeland attributed racism as the reason why ballet has been a difficult field for African-American women to break into.

“I think that the reason is the racism and not wanting to change this very traditional art form that has been the way it – you know, successful in the way it is for so long. And it’s hard to be the one that stands out when, you know, in a ballet company, you’re trying to create unison and uniform when you’re in a cour de ballet.”

After her historic promotion at the ABT was announced, Copeland cited a conversation with a ballet master during a press conference, saying:

“She said to me yesterday, ‘Don’t be offended by what I am about to say, but I just look at you as a talented dancer who has earned really-hard-to-get roles. So I didn’t think twice that it’s a big deal for an African-American woman to be performing in Swan Lake. I just thought you deserved it.’”

The documentary is executive produced by performing artist and choreographer Ingrid Graham, who is a Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival (LAWTF) performer and also sits on the tenured theatre company’s Advisory Board.

Check out the trailer for Copeland “A Ballerina’s Tale” below.

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is an entertainment reporter with over 15 years of experience working in the film industry in areas including production and post-production, marketing, distribution, and acquisitions. She has worked for legendary film producer Roger Corman, Quentin Tarantino's production team at Miramax, the late Larry Flynt, MTV/ VH1, Hallmark Channel, Paramount, Jim Henson Co., Parade Magazine, and various LA-based companies representing above-the-line talent.

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