Misty Copeland En Pointe
Kelley L. Carter, Senior Culture Writer
Photographs by Brent Lewis
Videos by Lois Nam, Senior Digital Producer
America’s most famous prima ballerina heads to Cuba to represent female athleticism. (Yes, athleticism.)
Misty Copeland is at the barre.
She’s demonstrating a battement tendu to a group of ballerinas at a dance magnet school.
The dancers — all girls ages 15 to 17, all in black leotards, white tights and pointe shoes, and all with their hair pulled up into impeccable topknots — listen intently.
All eyes are focused on her. Copeland is speaking in English. The teen dancers only understand Spanish.
There is a language translator — Maria Luz Pereya, a former dancer herself, originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina — and she offers at one point to bring a corded microphone toward Copeland and translate. Copeland quickly shakes her head, declining her assistance in this moment. This is, after all, Havana, the capital of Cuba, an island in the northern Caribbean where, as they say, the three languages spoken and understood by all are: Spanish, baseball and dance.
And Copeland, a groundbreaking ballerina — as well as author, and newlywed — who made history last year when she became the first African-American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre’s 75-year history, happens to be fluent in the art of motion. “Sport and art and dance unify people,” Copeland said later, sitting on the rooftop of Havana’s The Saratoga — the same place Beyoncé and Jay Z spent their 2013 wedding anniversary. “It’s a language and a culture that people from everywhere, all over the world, can relate to, and understand, and come together for.”…
Misty Danielle Copeland got her start in ballet on the basketball court…
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