And we’re back with Part 2, as promised, of the Misty Copeland interview with Amsterdam News. So let’s read on!
AmNews: In Nelson George’s film “A Ballerina’s Tale” and during a panel discussion with dancers Raven Wilkinson, Carmen de Lavallade and Susan Fales-Hill, you’ve talked about a support network of accomplished Black women. Tell us about that.
Copeland: At one point, I was really struggling to find my identity. It had always been ballerina since I was 13 years old. But then it got to a point where I was losing this body that was so ideal for ballet, and I had been called a prodigy when I was younger, but then I’m in this company and I don’t know who I am. I started to look at myself and everyone around me at ABT and I felt like, “I don’t connect with any of these people.” I was a transitioning into a young adult.
Then Susan Fales-Hill introduced me to all of these Black women. It just gave me this newfound existence and the realization that my future is not limited to what I see in front of me in the world of ballet. I saw these Black women as examples of power and leadership, and learned that just because I don’t see that in the ballet world doesn’t mean I can’t be that. I don’t know, it was just something that really hit home with me, and I felt an immediate change in how I approached things.
Let’s talk to about the repertory that you’re going to be doing and the rep you’d like to do.
I’m doing Twyla Tharp and Marcela Gomez, who have created a new piece that actually was created just for men. It’s called “ After Effect” and he’s adding on to it and making it more of like a lead ballet, and I’m doing the lead woman in it with James Whiteside opposite him. He’s a principal dancer. He’s a wonderful partner, so we get to collaborate again. Then the Twyla piece, “Brahms/Hayden” and “Company B”, the Paul Taylor piece, which I’ve done many times. I absolutely love doing this. I feel different doing it. Like the older I get, I’ve done it over the course of many years, and it’s funny to approach this kind of sexy, flirty role in different ways with maturity, so I’m excited to do this part again as a 33-year-old. Oh, and then “Monotones,” the Frederick Ashton piece that was made on the Royal Ballet, and Georgina Parkinson, who was a ballet mistress here for years did it, and I think I’m dancing her part. That’s pretty amazing.
Is there anything that you want people coming to your first full season as principle to expect from you?
I want people to just sit back and enjoy it. I have so many more years ahead of me, and I feel like this is going to be the first season that I can fully focus on the roles at hand. I think in the past it has been so much juggling soloist and principle roles, and my entire career has been that way. Now I feel like I can exhale. I feel like it’s going to bring a different maturity to my dancing. I want people to just sit back and enjoy it because I will be enjoying it too—just enjoying these moments.
To find out when Copeland is dancing, visit www.abt.org.