And wow, it was interesting to see a bio on a dancer with barely any dancing in it. Amazing. It was kind of like reading this publicity hound's ghost written book.
My how the story does change with the drop of each valid criticism against this dancer.
It is interesting how they push the racism while fashioning the story to leave out ALL the WHITE supporters who got Misty Copeland to the heights she is at now.
The Missing Teacher
Her teacher, the one who took her in, gave her a home, gave her free lessons and stood by her in court when she tried to gain emancipation from her mother...completely GONE from the story. Her part in the history is completely erased. I guess she just wasn't the right skin color. Copeland couldn't have kept her in the picture and recommended her studio as a place of dance study? NOPE. Doesn't fit the RACISM angle she has got going for herself. And all the the videotape that the teacher took of her was completely edited to leave out the teacher and her family to only show Copeland. Then there were completely new shots of Copeland dancing to African inspired music and choreography. What was this? One day of dance exploration?
All of her tales of woe regarding experiencing racism from such schools as SAB are never mentioned. In fact the documentary barely touches her early training experiences. It just shows the aforementioned teacher clips along with one recording of her dance competition win at around age 11/12. We also get a glimpse of many articles touting Copeland as a small town California wonder kid. Wow, these examples of racism really show the travails Copeland suffered. All those accolades must have been just another form of it.
The documentary completely skips over the training years and jumps into her company years.
And we get another example of racism, Copeland and another dancer were allowed to dance with the main company before joining the junior studio company. Racism, I know. The fellow dancer shows loyalty by sticking to Copeland's storyline. But here is the catch, she never witnessed any of this. She only states that Copeland told her she was being told she was too fat etc. This dancer had already left ABT and dance altogether. No other contemporary dancer stands up for Copeland in this documentary. Hmmmmmmmm.
Is it just Nature or was it Medically Induced?
The fat story. Copeland leaves out the most important part of this story. What she was using formerly to explain the change in her, ahem, shape.
Amenorrhea, as she explained in this article that I cited in a prior entry.
This was the story as of 2014. So why leave it out? Copeland has a duty to her young dance fans to explain all the pitfalls and health issues that go with being a dancer. Amenorrhea is a serious problem for a young dancer. She formerly claimed that her birth control therapy was what started her runaway weight gain and growth spurts.
Now she implies in this documentary...racism. This is just how black bodies develop and it must be accepted. This, despite the many instances of black female dancers who DO FIT the ballet body requirements.
The documentary than hauls out critic Deirdre Kelly to accuse the late George Balanchine of beginning the fetish for long, thin dancers. Well yes and no. Yes, he did favor taller dancers. But he also had a great many dancers in his company who were not tall and thin. The evidence which I pointed out in prior posts show dancers of all sizes in NYCB during his heyday of the 60s and 70s. What all his dancers had in common were that they were very athletic in appearance. This was what Balanchine liked. He liked the strong, all American cheerleader type.
Now if Kelly really knew her dance history, she would know the thin stereotype really got going before Balanchine was born, during the era when the Romantic ballets were choreographed. This style was started by Carlotta Grisi. The extremely thin look reached its apogee with Anna Pavlova. But despite all of this, Balanchine is the one who is tarred and feathered and accused of posthumously preventing Miss Copeland's rise in dance.
The Wizard Behind It All
Susan Fales-Hill The former Vice-Chair of the ABT Board. Yes, the woman on the Board of Directors for ABT. The whitest black woman (who claims ancestry from the Mayflower) took a special interest in Copeland.
Plus she inadvertently let out the conflict of interest that shows herself and Copeland in a poor light.
1) She expressed interest in Copeland when she was a Corps dancer.
2) She claims McKenzie, Artistic Director, told her that Copeland lacked focus. As in she was not showing up to company classes or coming in late, not enough drive, etc.
HERE IS THE KICKER
3) She claims McKenzie invited her to MENTOR Copeland. WHILE SHE WAS STILL A BOARD MEMBER?
Talk about Conflict of fucking interest. So was she championing Copeland at the expense of the rest of the company? Why was she a mentor to Copeland? She was never a dancer. What possibly could Fales-Hill mentor Copeland for except to scream out unsubstantiated accusations against all and sundry. There were plenty of black, retired dancers that could have mentored Copeland. In fact if one of them had, she would probably be a better dancer today. But none of this is about ballet. Not one bit.
Fales-Hill then claims she thought way back then that ABT would be accused of racism because Copeland was the only minority dancer. I suppose all the Hispanic, Asian and Native American dancers in the ranks don't count as minorities or women of color. That gets in the way of the NARRATIVE.
Low and behold Gia Kourlas writes her May 2007 NY Times article "Where are all the Black Swans?"
According to Fales-Hill this article "LAMBASTED" ABT and Copeland called her up crying over it. Do either of these women have reading comprehension skills? The article did not lambast ABT at all. It only noted the early brave black dancers who reached great heights (the ones who really opened doors for Misty) but there was no one to follow them up. It also notes how there is a current surge in the numbers of black students in ballet.
The Smoking Gun
Fales-Hill then states that she told Misty Copeland not to worry, that she would be promoted. But to tell her when and how would be unethical (her words). So telling her when she would be promoted would be unethical but being on the ABT board while championing just one dancer in the whole company is not?
We are then treated to a shifty eyed Misty claiming only white girls can see themselves as ballet dancers, as Swans. But Copeland fails to mention the extreme competition among white dancers and how most them cannot meet the stamina or body standards of ballet. But screw that, it doesn't fit the narrative of RACISM.
The ever loquacious Deirdre Kelly is then hauled out again to bark out happily that Ballet is only BLANC. Again, I suppose darker skinned hispanics, Asians and Native Americans are all white skinned now. Nope they are not minorities but part of the vicious BLANC standard.
Dance Theater of Harlem is not a major company! You said what!
So fast forward to Copeland's soloist promotion and her star turn in Ratmansky's Firebird.
And boy how Copeland, Fales-Hill and Copeland's PR Gilda Squire twist and turn to denigrate Dance Theater of Harlem's landmark production of Firebird. Fales-Hill called up the trailblazer Raven Wilkenson (of Ballets Russe de Monte Carlo i.e. not a major ballet company) to ask if a black woman had ever danced Firebird. The magnanimous Wilkenson answered Dance Theater of Harlem. Fales-Hill than had the gaul to state ON FILM, "No, one of the majors". WHAT THE FUCK gives Fales-Hill the right to call Dance Theater of Harlem NOT a major ballet company? WHAT THE FUCK! Then Copeland's PR Gilda Squire states she didn't know what the Firebird was but that Misty Copeland was the only black woman to dance it in a major company. So she doesn't know the ballet but she is completely knowledgeable enough to demote one of Dance Theater of Harlem's greatest ballet achievements?
Sorry Dabney, you are not a major ballerina nor did you dance in a major ballet company. Your triumph as the Firebird is completely unimportant. Why? Because two complete numbskulls who never danced a step in their lives say so. Oh and yeah, and since you fit the Ballet Standard, you are obviously BLANC!
Fales-Hill than proudly rounds up all the non-dancing black celebrities to crow for Misty Copeland at her premiere. Truthfully this wasn't that insulting, I wouldn't deny Copeland her cheerleaders. I'm just flabbergasted that she allowed her attack dogs to claim that Dance Theater of Harlem stands for nothing.
Let the Witch Trials Commence!
So Copeland breaks her leg, literally. She receives major surgery and ultimately returns to dance a very awkward "Dying Swan". And oh yes, her other major crusade in life is to save Raven Wilkenson from obscurity. Right. But the beautiful Stephanie Dabney can go diaf. Obscurity swallow that gorgeous Firebird who wasn't a major dancer in a major company!
At mark 44:18 Copeland than states, without substantiation, that other PRINCIPAL Dancers of many other companies do not like her presence or her voice. That they claim that she made noise in order to force her promotion to Principal.
Well...Who said what, when and where? Name the names Copeland or sue for deformation of character. It is within your rights. You will gain righteous justice if you are not lying about many things.
But more likely you want the media and your fans to mount a witch hunt to ferret out every fellow dancer who looked at you cross-eyed at one point.
You get to be Swan but the Giselle for a colleague was complete kismet
Then we end it all with very truncated clips of Copeland's Australian Swan Lake debut. It very wisely cut out all the technically difficult part that stories stated Copeland could not achieve. It also shows that Copeland knew she was cast as the Swan for ABT before she even stepped on the Australian stage.
It reminds me of the other minority dancer who was named principal, the lovely Stella Abrera. She who had no hope of ever being Giselle for ABT. Dancing to acclaim as Giselle in the Philippines and Australia plus nailing all the difficulties. She was only allowed to dance Giselle due to stepping in for a guest star who was injured.
My the difference in standards.
Dabney, you beautiful creature, GO AWAY and take that Balanchine boy toy Tomlinson with you! Neither of you are major dancers.
Oh and take Debra Austin while you are at it. Balanchine obviously only liked white dancers because he choreographed a solo just for her to show his preference.
Pffft.....Virginia Johnson, you are not a major dancer. No one should remember your triumph as Giselle. That is so BLANC!