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Diversity and Inclusion in Ballet

Misty Copeland

Lesson time 06:34 min

Misty speaks to her hope for a legacy that fosters more inclusivity in ballet. She urges you to actively participate in the conversation around diversity to change the perception of what a ballet dancer should be.

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Topics include: Be Part of the Conversation • Give Back to Your Community


No matter what color you are, no matter what gender, no matter what age, all of it, that it's important, I think, to find a place where you're going to thrive. And if you're trying to fit into a situation where you're just not wanted or you're not being treated well, like to me, it's pointless. I could probably attest to most dancers feeling at times like overwhelmed and frustrated and like they wanted to quit. And I've definitely been there a couple of times throughout my career. There were times when I was just so frustrated and didn't know how to go about approaching that conversation of diversity or trying to have conversations with people that I was close to in the company and just being frustrated with them not understanding or maybe not believing that it was my reality or that it happened to other dancers. And I went and actually auditioned with Dance Theatre of Harlem when I was quite young still. Arthur Mitchell had invited me. And he became a mentor of mine. And I really did think about, you know, maybe it'll just be easier if I'm surrounded by dancers who look like me. That day really just was another time that things just clicked. And it was like, yes, this would be amazing to be in the support of a community that I'm a part of. But it's not going to make change. Going there and meeting Arthur gave me a sense of my purpose again and what I truly wanted. And that was always to dance for American Ballet Theatre. And I think once I found that voice, it's pushed me to do things and to create projects that are going to hopefully further that mission of bringing more diversity to classical dance. It can be extremely frustrating when you're answering the same types of questions about where the ballet world should be going. It's really difficult when you still have young people that are being traumatized at a young age because they don't have teachers that know enough, like maybe know how to speak to them. Or they're in a good situation where they're being protected from being told that their hair will never be able to go into a certain style because of the texture of it or that they have to wear makeup a certain way to make their features appear more European. I think we have so far to go. But all we can do is continue to push that conversation forward, whether it's having teachers that look like the dancers they're teaching, the dancers on the stage who are performing representing everyone in the world and especially in America, what America looks like, that's what we should see represented on the stage. But especially in the schools, I think that the more opportunity we give to include everyone, then you'll have a larger pool of diverse dancers to pull from when they are ready to become a professional dancer. I think a lot of that is about the access that they have, giving communities who don't maybe have the funds to be a part of a school. You know, I think that's what keeps a lot of people away from ballet is how ...

About the Instructor

As the first African American female principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland made history. Now she’s one of the world’s most influential dancers, and she’s inviting you to the barre to develop a deeper appreciation for ballet and the language of dance. From pliés to partners, Misty demonstrates her techniques and teaches you to own your movement, own who you are, and do the dance only you can do.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Misty Copeland

American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Misty Copeland teaches you how to build your technique, embrace your story, and own your movement.

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