Chyrstyn Fentroy — First Black Woman To Join Boston Ballet In A Decade — Debuts As Snow Queen In ‘The Nutcracker’

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2018-12-02 22:07Z by Steven

Chyrstyn Fentroy — First Black Woman To Join Boston Ballet In A Decade — Debuts As Snow Queen In ‘The Nutcracker’

WBUR 90.9 FM
Boston, Massachusetts
2018-11-30

Arielle Gray, Arts Fellow

Lasha Khozashvili and Chyrstyn Fentroy in Mikko Nissinen's The Nutcracker (Photo by Angela Sterling, courtesy of Boston Ballet)
Lasha Khozashvili and Chyrstyn Fentroy in Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker (Photo by Angela Sterling, courtesy of Boston Ballet)

Artificial snow falls gently from the top of the stage of the Boston Opera House, encasing the space in an ethereal glittering glow. Beneath it dances Chyrstyn Fentroy as the Snow Queen, entwined in an elegant flow of limbs and carefully choreographed steps with the Snow King. The Boston Ballet is rehearsing for its opening night of “The Nutcracker,” the other worldly production based off of E.T.A Hoffman’s novella. Fentroy debuted as the Snow Queen on Thursday evening and will star in the role again on Sunday, Dec. 2.

Fentroy makes a stunning Snow Queen, traversing the stage in a series of light, precise steps. The role is a notable milestone for Fentroy, who has been deeply involved in the world of dance since she was old enough to walk. She tells me she’s the first black female dancer to join the Boston Ballet in the last decade.

Growing up as the daughter of two dancers in Los Angeles, Fentroy spent a lot of time in the dance studio. “’The Nutcracker’ specifically is something that’s kind of been a part of my life forever,” Fentroy told WBUR. “I grew up watching my mom do the Sugarplum Fairy variation and spent so many years in the wings watching performances.”…

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Misty Copeland: the trailblazing ballerina loved by Prince, Obama and Disney

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, United States on 2018-11-12 03:26Z by Steven

Misty Copeland: the trailblazing ballerina loved by Prince, Obama and Disney

The Guardian
2018-11-07

Lyndsey Winship, Dance Critic

‘I had this awakening’ … Misty Copeland.
‘I had this awakening’ … Misty Copeland. Photograph: Danielle Levitt for the Observer

She thinks ballet’s broken – and has a plan to fix it. The star of Disney’s Nutcracker reboot talks about racism, nude shoes and growing up bendy

Ballet was definitely my escape,” says Misty Copeland. “It was the first thing I’d ever experienced in my life that was mine – only mine, not my five other siblings’. It gave me a voice, made me feel powerful.”

When Copeland discovered ballet she was 13, living with her mother and siblings in a motel in California. She was a shy, slight child who rarely spoke and tried not to be noticed. Twenty-three years later, hers is the kind of transformation story even ballet might think far-fetched. In 2015, she became the first black female principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre – and with that a spokesperson, poster girl, and bona fide star. Barack Obama sought her out as an adviser, Prince invited her on tour, Spike Lee wants her in his films, and people queue up to meet her at the stage door of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.

And now the latest chapter in her real-life fairytale has begun to unfold. Copeland is dancing in Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, a cinema revamp of the Christmas favourite starring Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman

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‘A Lot Is Still So Much the Same’: Misty Copeland on Decades of Racism and Ballet

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, United States on 2018-01-28 02:54Z by Steven

‘A Lot Is Still So Much the Same’: Misty Copeland on Decades of Racism and Ballet

TIME
2018-01-16

Olivia B. Waxman


Misty Copeland (right) and Raven Wilkinson at the Urban World Film Festival in New York, NY, on Sep. 27 2015. MediaPunch/REX/Shutterstock

In the years since she became the first black ballerina to be a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland has become a well-known symbol of breaking down barriers in her art. The strides she has made build on the work of one particular dancer — a mentor of Copeland’s, Raven Wilkinson, who broke new ground in similar ways during the 1950s. And, though much has changed since that era in both civil rights and on the stage, Copeland tells TIME that there is still a long way to go.

Wilkinson’s passion for ballet began at an early age and would take her around the nation with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. As the first African American ballerina to dance with a major touring troupe, she performed the coveted solo waltz in Les Sylphides.

But her story — which is told in the new picture book Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson, written by Leda Schubert and illustrated by Theodore Taylor III, and released Tuesday in time for Black History Month in February — didn’t always feel like a fairy tale…

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From Misty Copeland: Adjustments, Tips and Inspiration

Posted in Arts, Media Archive on 2017-11-12 17:53Z by Steven

From Misty Copeland: Adjustments, Tips and Inspiration

The New York Times
2017-11-08

Siobhan Burke, Dance Writer
Brooklyn, New York


Misty Copeland (center) coaching students at Harlem Stage on Monday (facing the camera, Emily Lugohart and Gabriela Urena). Credit Marc Millman

Dougie Baldeo, a 13-year-old ballet student at Harlem School of the Arts, stood onstage Monday night as Misty Copeland offered him pointers on his port de bras, or carriage of the arms.

“Once you start moving, I don’t want to see the claw creep back in,” she said, referring to his sometimes tense right hand.

Dougie was one of 13 students selected to study — if only for an hour — with Ms. Copeland, one of the most famous ballerinas in the world, who in 2015 became the first female African-American principal dancer with American Ballet Theater.

And if the students, from Harlem School of the Arts and the Dance Theater of Harlem School, were already feeling nervous because of all that star power, there was added pressure: an audience. The event, “A Misty Copeland Ballet Class,” organized by Harlem Stage at its Gatehouse space was open to the students’ families and peers, with a few seats available to the public…

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Misty Copeland’s latest Under Armour ad reminds us that ballet is a sport

Posted in Articles, Arts, United States, Videos on 2017-07-30 00:37Z by Steven

Misty Copeland’s latest Under Armour ad reminds us that ballet is a sport

USA Today
For The Win: USA Today Sports
2017-07-19

Maggie Hendricks

Under Armour has a new ad out featuring Misty Copeland, guaranteed to both make you want to work out and perhaps pick up a poetry book. Saul Williams provides the backing poem, For Misty, with words as lyrical as her movements…

The systemic structure built to keep me in place
is the stage I dance on
Black and woman
Mothership’s my mother’s hips beheld deep space
Astronaut of corporal grace…

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Misty Copeland, a Ballerina With Real Acting Chops

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2017-05-14 18:47Z by Steven

Misty Copeland, a Ballerina With Real Acting Chops

The New York Times
2017-05-09

Gia Kourlas


As Misty Copeland gets older, she seeks even more depth in her acting.
Credit Dolly Faibyshev for The New York Times

Misty Copeland isn’t one of those principals who step onstage a few times a season. She dances. A lot.

“It’s crazy how I took jumping for granted all these years,” Ms. Copeland, 34, said as she stretched out on the floor between rehearsals at American Ballet Theater’s studios. Stella Abrera, a fellow principal, nodded in agreement. “What did you just do?” she asked.

“Kitri,” Ms. Copeland replied.

“Ouch,” Ms. Abrera said.

This season — Ms. Copeland’s second year as a principal — is a killer that includes her debut as Kitri in “Don Quixote” on Tuesday, May 16, and her New York debut as Giselle on May 26. As the company’s artistic director, Kevin McKenzie, put it, it’s symbolic because “she’s taking the mantle of the classics on.”…

…During a rehearsal the night before a performance in Washington earlier this year, Ms. Copeland described how after her first fouetté, she felt a pop in her neck and a warm sensation travel down her spine. “Even just approaching the fouettés,” she said, “it was like something tensed up in me and made that happen.”

So she reached out to a sports psychologist in California. “I spent 10 hours with this guy nonstop, talking about my feelings about myself in connection to my career and how I feel people are judging me,” she said. “Especially when it comes to that role, and what it means to be a black woman doing it. I’m trying to get to the root of all of it, and just be like as pure as I can be when I go out there and not carry all that baggage.”…

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Misty Copeland: dancing into history

Posted in Articles, Arts, Biography, Media Archive, United States on 2017-03-06 20:56Z by Steven

Misty Copeland: dancing into history

The Guardian
2017-03-05

Aaron Hicklin


Born to dance: Copeland’s story is, for millions of Americans, an archetypal story of triumph over adversity. Photograph: Danielle Levitt for the Observer

She was caught between her impoverished mother and the ballet mistress who offered her a way out. Aaron Hicklin meets Misty Copeland, the first black principal at the American Ballet Theatre

We cannot know whether Misty Copeland would have become America’s most celebrated ballet dancer if she had not met Cindy Bradley, the flame-haired instructor who first recognised and then sharpened her talents, but it seems unlikely. Then again, it’s doubtful that Copeland would have met Bradley if not for Elizabeth Cantine, the coach of her school drill team who urged her to check out the free ballet class at the Boys & Girls Club of San Pedro. Nor is it clear that Copeland would have joined Cantine’s squad without the encouragement of her adored older sister, Erica, a drill team star. It was Erica who helped Copeland choreograph an audition piece to George Michael’s I Want Your Sex. And who, knowing her story, can omit the Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci from this roll call? As a seven-year-old, trying to emulate Comaneci’s pyrotechnics, Copeland instinctively understood “that rhythmic motion came as naturally to me as breathing,” to quote from her memoir, Life in Motion

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Misty Copeland on Seeing So Many Brown Ballerinas in Cuba: “That Will Forever Stick With Me”

Posted in Articles, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Women on 2016-12-26 21:03Z by Steven

Misty Copeland on Seeing So Many Brown Ballerinas in Cuba: “That Will Forever Stick With Me”

Remezcla
2016-12-22

Yara Simón, Trending Editor


Photo: Emily Jan/NPR

In the world of American ballet, Misty Copeland is the exception. As the first black woman to become a principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre, Copeland knows what it’s like to be one of the few women of color to break through. That’s why when President Barack Obama asked her to visit Cuba as part of a sports envoy program designed to further strengthen relations between the United States and the Caribbean nation, Misty felt struck by the number of brown bodies she saw at the prestigious Ballet Nacional de Cuba.

“Just the imagery of seeing a room full of Cuban women and men with brown skin, doing classical ballet, and it’s not even a question for them,” she told The Undefeated. “It’s like, ‘No, this is what we do and this is what we look like.’ That’s something that will forever stick with me.”…

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Misty Copeland En Pointe

Posted in Articles, Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Women on 2016-12-26 17:30Z by Steven

Misty Copeland En Pointe

The Undefeated
2016-12-14

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.)

HAVANA, Cuba

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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The Photograph That Helped Misty Copeland Realize Her Responsibility as a Black Woman in Ballet

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Women on 2016-12-26 17:08Z by Steven

The Photograph That Helped Misty Copeland Realize Her Responsibility as a Black Woman in Ballet

Vanity Fair
2016-10-11

Misty Copeland

Ahead of her new book, the first African-American female principal dancer of the American Ballet Theatre reveals the power of seeing a portrait of Raven Wilkinson, who broke color barriers in ballet more than 50 years ago.

“I saw this image of dancer Raven Wilkinson for the first time in Ballets Russes, the 2005 documentary. I cried upon hearing a history I didn’t know much about. As a black woman in the classical-ballet world, I realized then that, although things have evolved in the 50 years since Raven faced severe racism while performing with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, black women still face an uphill battle finding their place as professionals in classical ballet…

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