5 Reasons Misty Copeland Is A Inspiration to Us All

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misty

By now everyone knows –or should know rather– exactly who Misty Copeland is. She began ballet classes at a Boys and Girls Club at the late age of 13 and is now one of the most popular dancers of the 21st century. She has changed up the game by becoming the face of diversity– she is the American Ballet Theatre’s (ABT’s) “[second] black soloist ever“– Copeland is also the first  African American ever to dance Odette/Odile in ABT’s Swan Lake. She also makes sure to continue giving back by making sure to inspire and educate youth.

Without further ado, I present to you, ‘5 Reasons Why Misty Copeland Is A Inspiration to Us All’.

1. Started from the bottom, now she’s here.

While living in a motel with her mother and siblings, 13-yr old Misty began taking dance classes at her local Boys and Girls Club in San Pedro, California. This is subversive because most professional dancers begin ballet training white, wealthy, and at extremely early ages. Rivka Galchen writes about the adversity Copeland has overcome in the New Yorker. Galchen’s peice titled ‘An Unlikely Ballerina’ describes Copelands’s memoir saying,

her memoir, is the hardship tale: not knowing her real father, a succession of differently difficult stepfathers, and uncertainty about whether there would be dinner on any given night, wrote Galchen.

2. She is a published author.

Along with the help of Charisse Jones, Copeland wrote a memoir for teens. Her book ‘Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina’ narrates the experience of her seemingly common early teenage years. She had an heavy appreciation for Maraiah Carey’s music, repetitively watched a movie about gymnast Nadia Comaneci, was a hall monitor, class treasurer and always early for class. She also took woodworking at the same Boys and Girls Club that she later began dancing at.

Copeland also wrote a book for children called ‘Firebird’ along with the help of Christopher Meyers. The book is an inspiration to children– showing them the importance of hard work and dedication. Copeland and Meyer’s ‘Firebird’ was labeled ‘An NPR Best Book of 2014’ and  Amazon Best book of the Month.

3. Her body tho.

Not only did she have to overcome poverty and racism, but Copeland’s body was not that of a typical ballerina. She was curvy. Published on July 30,2014 Copeland starred in an campaign for Under Armour, titled ‘I WILL WHAT I WANT’. This ad gave a snapshot of her story in just a minute while capturing her  alone in the studio and on stage while demonstrating the true athleticism of dance. All curvy and athletic girls rejoice! There is hope for us yet. Watch below.

You must have the passion, strength, and belief that you can become anything, says Copeland.

4.She is a Fashion Icon.

I’m not necessarily sure that this is popular opinion (it should be), but I somewhat consider Copeland to be a fashion icon. From Under Armour’s I WILL WHAT I WANT campaign to being captured in the likeness of Josephine Baker for Black History Month in New York City’s ‘Vintage’ Magazine, Copeland exudes all the necessary grace and beauty of an icon. She is a timeless beauty.

5. SHE WENT ON TOUR WITH PRINCE.

This is possibly one of my favorite facts about Copeland. Prince guys! THE Prince. The music legend.

    

I’ve come so far from the first ballet class I took at age 13 in my baggy gym clothes at the Boys & Girls Club,” said Copeland. “I know that by being here now, in this rarefied, difficult, elitist, beautiful world, I have made my mark on history and ballet. I will forever fight, performing like it’s my last show. And I will love every minute of it.

[Word Count:614]

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“Pippin” and the Breakdown of a Broadway Number

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Bob Fosse’s 1972 musical “Pippin” tells of a young boy’s search for the purpose and meaning of life. The original opening  number, “Magic to Do”, is known for its “seductive gestural choreography”. The musical has not been re-staged since its closing in 1977, but will now be re-staged under the artistic direction of Diane Paulus. This new version of the opening number “Magic To Do”, will infuse more circus/acrobatic/magical elements than ever before. Using Fosse’s genius choreography as a springboard, the new “Pippin” will be just as delectable as the original.

Bob Fosse’s “Pippin”: “Magic To Do”

Diane Paulus’s RE-vamped “Pippin”

To read more about the re-staging of “Pippin” Click HERE.

WORD COUNT:111

30 years: Criticized

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peter martins

At 66 years old, Danish, former ballet dancer Peter Martins is the longest serving ballet director in the United States of America. He is also currently the longest standing director of ANY arts organization in the United States. On April 30th 2013, Martins will be celebrating 30 years of directing the New York City Ballet. On that day the ballet will also be remembering the life of its former director and co-founder George Balanchine.

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It would be an understatement to say that Martins knew Balanchine. He adored him. Martins discussed how he met Balanchine in an New York Times interview with Roslyn Sulcas.

“George Balanchine. I was asked, at the last minute, to fill in for Jacques d’Amboise when City Ballet was dancing at the Edinburgh Festival in 1967. I met Balanchine on the street in Edinburgh, walking with Suzanne [Farrell, the ballerina]. I felt an instant affinity with him. I was smitten. More than the dancers or the repertory, it was him.”

Although surprisingly enough, even though the two men were well acquainted, when Balanchine died many of his fans had high expectations for Martins. The fans didn’t think that Martins could or has lived up to the legacy of Balanchine

Many publications have thoroughly criticized Martins career in light of Balanchine’s legacy.

For not bringing in former dancers to coach, and producing his own “dull” ballets Arlene Croce wrote in 1993 in the New Yorker, that when the City ballet was taken over by Martins a “catastrophically swift decline.”

The New York Times also criticized Martins’ career.

MR. MARTINS and his dancers have no feel for mystery, taste or formal etiquette; they have flattened Balanchine’s exquisite ballets into straight-talking, ”can do” common-sense dances. In their hands, eloquent, elevated works like ”Symphony in C” and ”Divertimento No. 15” become timid, tense and arid; the ferocious intensity and rhythmic wit of ”Stravinsky Violin Concerto” are lost to smooth, glassy ease. Gone are Balanchine’s daring, spirited performers who truly were aristocrats of art… The dances, like the dancers, look pretty enough; but we no longer know what they are about.

Another example is the LA Times review on Paul McCartney’s ballet ‘Ocean’s Kingdom‘, choreographed by Martins. The review highlights the elegant costumes of Paul McCartney’s daughter, Stella and that’s about it.

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The review dismisses McCartney’s original musical creations as “screams”, and Martins choreography as boring.

Peter Martins’ dances are not just forgettable, they’re boring. There’s running around in circles and cheerleader-style symmetry that looks as if the choreographer were setting the piece on student dancers — not one of the finest companies in the world.  Besides a brief acrobatic duet by Megan LeCrone and Craig Hall, there was nothing that showcased the artistry of the City Ballet principals or corps.

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Yet despite all of this intense criticism, Martins is overly optimistic about his career.

I have an internal clock in this sense. I have unfinished business still. My plate is pretty full, and I have a lot of energy. But on the other hand, it will become apparent if it is time for me to go. I watch everything and everyone; I don’t miss a trick.

To read more on Martins’ 30 year career Click HERE.

WORD COUNT:528

This One’s for YOU Boston.

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Aly Raisman, Olympic Gold Medal winning gymnast took a minute after her performance on Dancing With the Stars to remember the victims and those affected by the Boston bombings that took place on April 15th at the Boston Marathon. The whole show began with a moment of silence for those affected in Boston. Raisman, a Boston native explained to reporters that we need to do everything in our power to help the people of Boston during this time. DWTS did not air in Boston because of the bombings, but Raisman earned a 25 out of 30 for her Samba last night on April 16th.

To see their full performance,

WORD COUNT :108

Baseball Meets Ballet

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miami

Mike Piazza, New York Mets baseball player who had 427 home runs during his career and mad 12 All Star Game appearances is now joining the Miami City Ballet for their rendition of Balanchine’s 1930s musical, “On Your Toes”. Piazza only has a few lines, and will barely be dancing in the ballet. Although being the great actor that he is he has thoroughly impressed the other dancers during rehearsals. The ballet hopes that Piazza will draw a new audience to the ballet stage, by shining a light on the athleticism of dance. Piazza’s daughter is a student at the Miami City Ballet School. Read More HERE.

Word Count: 102

The BRAIN and DANCE

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dance and the brain

Dr. Oliver Sacks, British-American neurologist, biologist, and writer is pairing up with choreographer Bill T. Jones to bring his ideas to life onstage in a piece called “The Worlds of Oliver Sacks”.

Sacks is mostly known for his neurological work on hallucinations and what they say about us. Hosted by New York Live Arts, the show is part of a five day Humanities Festival that according to humanities expert,Lawrence Weschler, hopes to involve “people who don’t ordinarily go to dance spaces. Sacks would not consider himself as one of these people who have never really delved into the world of dance or art.

“In general I don’t get too involved in the ballet or film or opera or whatever it is, but I’m delighted if I’ve played a part in sparking someone else’s creativity said Sacks to the New York Times.”

Dance Theater Workshop and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company merged in 2011, creating New York Live Arts, a creative work space and arts learning center. After the merger Jones was looking organic ways to engage artists and audiences. He soon met Oliver Sacks through their mutual friend Weschler.

“When I read some of Dr. Sacks’s meditations on how the brain works, in a way he demystifies these things that I have a feeling about. But in another way he encourages me to look with more courage at the physical world,” said Jones to the New York Times.

Lots of studies have taken place over the years to look at the relation of our bodies’ natural movement and the brain. Scientists have concluded some pretty interesting things from looking at this relationship, therefore this show has a lot of hype to live up to. Stephen Brown and Lawrence M. Parsons of ‘Scientific American’ claim that dance is important for our mental and relational health.

“Our talent for unconscious entertainment lies at the core of dance, a confluence of movement, rhythm and gestural representation. By far the most synchronized group practice, dance demands a type of interpersonal coordination in space and time that is almost nonexistent in other social contexts.”

One of Jones’s main ideas for the five day humanities festival is that dancers, choreographers and audiences would fully be able to grasp and understand the importance of movement in relation to their bodies and their health.

“When I’m trying to explain to people what I think is grand and noble about movement,” said Jones to the New York Times. “I say that the reason it is our most valuable connector as human beings is because that person onstage, who has a body similar to ours, is using that body in proxy for us. That kind of transference and connection is a very poetic way of saying something that I think the doctor’s given his life to understanding: how an idea about movement can actually be felt.”

Live Ideas: The world of Oliver Sacks will take place from April 17th to April 21st. The Humanities focused festival is scheduled to include everything from swimming workouts, dance performances and even film discussions.

WORD COUNT:512

Maria Tallchief

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maria tallchief

This past Thursday, April 11th, the ballet world lost a legend. Maria Tallchief was one of five Native American popular prima ballerinas prominent in the world of ballet in the 1940s-1960s. Tallchief gave life to Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker”, “Firebird”, and many other ballets . She began teaching dance in 1965. She was 88 years old.

To view  some of her most popular works, Click HERE.

To read more and see a slideshow of Tallchief Click HERE.