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Performance: Black Swan Variation

Misty Copeland

Lesson time 6:30 min

Misty discusses how she prepares her pointe shoes and which type she chooses for different performances. Then she demonstrates a warm-up at the barre and performs a solo variation from Swan Lake.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Misty as Odile • Conquering the Black Swan


[MUSIC PLAYING] - I'm going to put my pointe shoes on and just do a couple of releves at the bar just to get my feet warmed up in a pointe shoe. So I actually don't wear any pads or anything in my shoes. I was trained that way because my teacher thought that when you don't have anything between your foot and the shoe, you'll have more control over articulating your toes. As painful as it was in the beginning, it's really easy for me to just kind of slip them on. And you know, you build up all of the calluses and everything to make your foot strong so that it doesn't hurt as much. A lot of people are kind of shocked when they realize I'm not-- I'm just like, tough it out. Yeah, also, I've been coloring my own pointe shoes my skin color since I started dancing. Yeah, so they come, you know, in European pink, which is a very interesting choice of words. And I think that that's kind of a subtle and subconscious way of, I think, excluding brown and black dancers. And so I think that's something that I'm constantly fighting for, you know, more inclusion. But one day, we won't have to pancake our own pointe shoes. They'll come in our skin color. A very important part of a ballerina's performance is how her shoes are prepared and making sure that they're the right strength. Depending on what role I'm doing with "Swan Lake," I like my shoes to be a lot harder. And then in other roles like maybe Juliet, I wear a much softer pointe shoe because you do a lot of walking and running. And you don't need as much support so OK. I'm doing a few releves here to get my feet warmed up. Since this variation includes larger moves, I'm going to show you the full performance and then a slowed-down version. OK. [MUSIC PLAYING] CREW: DIRECTOR: OK, here we go. Ready and action. [MUSIC PLAYING] - It's really interesting that I chose to share the Black Swan variation because it's something that I've struggled with, you know, since I started doing "Swan Lake." The choreography that I find most challenging is probably the very first step-- a double pirouette that goes into an attitude turn. And then you finish and plié and attitude. When I'm dancing, I want it to be a story. And so it's a little bit awkward to start off a variation like cold. Like that's the first thing you do is this, like, very technical thing instead of, like, kind of having this, like, warm-up into whatever it is you're saying. And so that tends to be more difficult for me if I can't make it feel organic and like I'm really saying something. So I tend to struggle with things like that. I want to be able to feel confident in things that have scared me before. And so you know, as a dancer and as a performer, you know, you may do the same ballets over and over and over again, the same roles. And you may have different challenges with different parts of it every time you do it. And I feel like this time around in preparing for Swan Lake...

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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