Review: With ‘Dougla,’ Dance Theater of Harlem Recalls Past Glory

Posted in Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2018-04-11 20:46Z by Steven

Review: With ‘Dougla,’ Dance Theater of Harlem Recalls Past Glory

The New York Times

Brian Seibert

Alicia Mae Holloway, center, and fellow members of Dance Theater of Harlem performing in “Dougla.”
Andrea Mohin/The New York Times

The enthusiastic applause for Dance Theater of Harlem’s revival of “Dougla,” at the New York City Center on Friday, started as soon as the curtain rose. The opening image was of a stage full of proudly posed men and women, all in floor-length skirts decorated with little red pom-poms. More of those pom-poms crowned their heads like rooster combs.

Geoffrey Holder, who choreographed “Dougla” in 1974 (and died in 2014), also designed its costumes, and the dance is largely a costume pageant. But it wasn’t just the spectacle that people were cheering.

Long a staple of Dance Theater of Harlem’s repertory, “Dougla” has not been performed by the company since 2004. That year, debt forced the troupe into hiatus, and when the company re-emerged in 2013, its roster had shrunk by more than half…

…“Dougla” is a rather old-fashioned work. The title is a word used, especially in Mr. Holder’s native Trinidad, to label people of mixed South Asian and African descent. As part of its representation of such people, the choreography indulges in a kind of cartoon imitation of Indian dance. While wood blocks crack, heads nod and wobble like the tops of bobblehead dolls. The motion is theatrically effective — that’s why it’s repeated even during the bows — but close to caricature…

Read the entire review here.

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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


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…

Read the entire article here.

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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

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…

Read the entire article here.

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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

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.”…

Read the entire article here.

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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

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

Read the entire article here.

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Call For Papers: Spaniards, Natives, Africans, and Gypsies: Transatlantic Malagueñas and Zapateados in Music, Song, and Dance

Posted in Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, United States, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2016-12-30 22:04Z by Steven

Call For Papers: Spaniards, Natives, Africans, and Gypsies: Transatlantic Malagueñas and Zapateados in Music, Song, and Dance


K. Meira Goldberg, Visiting Research Scholar
Foundation for Iberian Music
The Graduate Center
The City University of New York
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10016

Prof. Walter Clark, Director
The Center for Iberian and Latin American Music
Department of Music
University of California
900 University Avenue
Riverside, California 92521

Antoni Pizà, Director
Foundation for Iberian Music
The Graduate Center
The City University of New York
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10016

The Center for Iberian and Latin American Music at the University of California at Riverside, and the Foundation for Iberian Music at The Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation at the CUNY Graduate Center will host a conference on the transatlantic circulation of malagueñas and zapateados at University of California, Riverside on April 6–7, 2017.

In the inaugural conference in this series, Spaniards, Indians, Africans, and Gypsies: The Global Reach of the Fandango in Music, Song, and Dance, we gathered in New York to explore the fandango as a mestizaje, a mélange of people, imagery, music and dance from America, Europe, and Africa, whose many faces reflect a diversity of exchange across what were once the Spanish and Portuguese Empires. At that conference, we considered the broadest possible array of the fandango across Europe and the Americas, asking how the fandango participated in the elaboration of various national identities, how the fandangos of the Enlightenment shed light on musical populism and folkloric nationalism as armaments in revolutionary struggles for independence of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and how contemporary fandangos function within the present-day politics of decolonialization and immigration. We asked whether and what shared formal features—musical, choreographic, or lyric—may be discerned in the diverse constituents of the fandango family in Spain and the Americas, and how our recognition of these features might enhance our understanding of historical connections between these places. We hoped with that pioneering effort to gather international, world-renowned scholars to open new horizons and lay the foundation for further research, conferences, and publications. We are immensely proud of that 2015 gathering, and of the two published editions of its proceedings: in bilingual form in the Spanish journal Música Oral del Sur (vol. 12, 2015) and in English (forthcoming 2016 from Cambridge Scholars Publishing).

But the inaugural conference merely set the first stone. All of the participants in the 2015 meeting agreed that conversations should continue, relationships should develop, and that many questions and avenues of research remain. We are therefore pleased to issue a call for papers for the upcoming conference on two nineteenth-century forms related to the fandango—at least in their standing as iconic representations of Spanishness: malagueñas and zapateados.

How do these forms comprise a “repertoire” in performance theorist Diana Taylor’s sense of the term as enacting “embodied memory” and “ephemeral, nonreproducible knowledge,” allowing for “an alternative perspective on historical processes of transnational contact” and a “remapping of the Americas…following traditions of embodied practice”? The Center and the Foundation invite interested scholars, graduate students, and practitioners including musicians and dancers to propose presentations on all subjects related to malagueñas and zapateados. Although we are not limited to them, we expect to gain special insight into the following topics:

  1. From their virtuoso elaborations in flamenco song, to the solo guitar rondeñas of “El Murciano,” from the 1898 La malagueña y el torero filmed by the Lumière brothers to Denishawn’s 1921 Malagueña, from Isaac Albéniz’s iconic pianistic malagueñas to the interpretation by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona which, as Walter Clark observes, became a global pop tune, how do malagueñas address the aspirations of growing middle-class concert audiences on both sides of the Atlantic?
  2. How do they reflect and crystalize prevailing yet contested notions of what is “Spanish”?
  3. How, in the transgressive ruckus and subversive sonorities of Afro-Latin zapateados circulating through, as performance scholar Stephen Johnson says, the ports, waterways, and docks of the Black Atlantic may we describe the race mimicry inherent in nineteenth-century performance?
  4. What is the relationship of zapateado with tap and other forms of percussive dance in American popular music?
  5. And how in the roiled and complicated surfaces of these forms may we discern the archived rhythmic and dance ideas of African and Amerindian lineage that are magical, or even sacred?
  6. How do zapateado rhythms express the tidal shift in accentuation of the African 6/8 from triple to duple meter described by Rolando Perez Fernandez?
  7. How did the zapateados danced in drag, in bullrings and ballets, resist nineteenth-century gender codes?
  8. What secrets are held in the zapateados performed on a tarima planted in the earth and tuned by ceramic jugs in Michoacán?
  9. In light of compelling research by Andrés Reséndez and Benjamin Madley into the devastating history of enslavement and genocide of indigenous peoples of the Americas, what new considerations arise with regard to best practices for historiographically aware nomenclature? How should we view and use words like “Indian,” “Native,” “mestizo,” “criollo,” etc.?

Paper presentations will be 20 minutes, with 10 minutes of discussion. We also welcome workshop-style presentations incorporating dance, music, and song. Please send a title and a 150-200 word abstract to K. Meira Goldberg at by December 31, 2016.

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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”


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.”…

Read the entire article here.

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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

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…

Read the entire article here.

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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

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…

Read the entire article here.

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Renowned ballerina Misty Copeland sends an inspiring message to girls of Colorado

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2016-09-25 16:47Z by Steven

Renowned ballerina Misty Copeland sends an inspiring message to girls of Colorado

The Denver Post
Denver, Colorado

Molly Hughes

She overcame difficult childhood to become first African-American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre

American dancer Misty Copeland knows about overcoming the odds and pushing through adversity to achieve a dream.

As the first African American female to be appointed as Principal Dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, Copeland knows more than a little bit about breaking out of the life she was given, to create the life she wanted. With that story to tell, it’s no surprise the 34-year-old was invited to Denver as a special guest of the Colorado Women’s Foundation annual luncheon, an event sponsored by the Denver Post Community Foundation.

The foundation’s goal is to create systemic change for women and girls in Colorado, empowering them to overcome stereotypes, tackle math, science and technology in school, achieve financial independence and reach their full potential.

Copeland’s story seems to align with that message. Her seemingly fairy tale adult life in the spotlight bears little to no resemblance to her humble beginnings…

Hughes: Is there any part of you that is bothered by the fact that the title is first African-American principal dancer in the ballet company?

Copeland: No. I think that this is something that I’ve had to accept and own, and I’m so OK with that. You know, this is a huge deal and for people to kind of take away that title just because I’ve reached this point — like it doesn’t make any sense. It is a big deal, and it doesn’t erase the history of the lack of diversity in classical ballet just because me as an individual — one person — has reached this point. So whenever people say, “You know, you’re here. Like, why do you have to talk about race? Why is every article about you being African-American. It has to be said. That message has to continue and I hope it does. When I’m retired in that it will continue to spark change…

Read the entire interview here.

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