• Tue. Oct 19th, 2021

Misty Copeland: Project Plie makes giant strides in expanding ballet training

ByKaren B. Brown

Apr 5, 2016

Misty Copeland is one of Varieties The winners of Power of Women New York. For more profiles on the winners, click here.

“I took my first ballet class on a basketball court at the Boys & Girls Club,” says Misty Copeland, the first black woman to be promoted to principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater.

So it’s a full time now that Copeland, as one of the VarietyThe Power of Women winners chose to showcase Project Plie, the diversity initiative for which ABT has partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of America.

The Plie project aims to create a training and support infrastructure for under-represented communities in the world of classical ballet. As part of the program, Boys & Girls Clubs in the United States organize activities and master classes led by teachers certified in the ABT training program.

Copeland, the Kansas City native whose entry into ballet was made possible by the encouragement and training of a local teacher, knows the importance of mentorship, especially for aspiring dancers of color who might not. see yourself a place in a world of classical ballet that is still mostly white.

“It’s so much a part of my education and my experience as a professional dancer,” she says. “I was the only African American woman at ABT for a decade, and a lot of what I do now is mentoring young minority dancers and trying to be a support system for them. It nourishes me as an artist and as a person, and I learn more and more about myself and what is missing and what needs to be done in the world of professional ballet.

She doesn’t teach any of these classes at Boys and Girls Clubs, because she can’t. “I am a dancer at ABT, but I am not certified in the training course! she laughs. “But I stop to say hello to all the kids and get them excited to be a part of something much bigger than them.

Watch below as Copeland talks about his biggest obstacles in the ballet world, worst injury, iconic dance club moves and more.

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