The Seven Best Scenes in the New Misty Movie
A new documentary directed by filmmaker Nelson George reveals the grace and graciousness of Misty Copeland. Titled A Ballerina’s Tale, it covers a difficult two years in the dancer's life, from a career-threatening injury right after her debut in Ratmansky’s Firebird up to her recovery and rise to principal at American Ballet Theatre. Inspiring and intimate, it will be released in theaters October 14 but you can catch it at film festivals starting this Saturday.
Misty Copeland in Nelson George's "A Ballerina's Tale," Courtesy of Oskar Landi. © Urban Romances, Inc. A Sundance Selects Release.
After seeing an advance screening and Q & A at Bowtie Cinemas in Chelsea last night, I would say these are the most memorable scenes.
1. Archival footage of Misty rehearsing as a slender 13-year old, probably her first year studying ballet, plus stage clips of herself as a teenager in Don Q, reveal the miracle that is Misty. After only two years of training, she was invited to join the Studio Company at ABT. In this footage you can see how completely she inhabited the ballet idiom from the start—classical arms, lifted chest, energized spine, gorgeous legs and feet, and natural musicality. The word prodigy is not uttered, but how else to describe this phenomenon?
2. To the strains of Minkus violin music, she dances Gamzatti’s solo from La Bayadère alone on a dark stage. You see how elegantly poignant she can be, even though it is clearly a made-for-camera performance.
Misty with Raven Wilkinson, photo by Nelson George
3. In her own living room, Misty meets with Raven Wilkinson, who was the one African American dancer with the Ballet Russe. Together they go over the choreography for the cynettes (“little swans”), with Raven humming the tune and the two of them marking with their feet and turning their heads in sync.
4. While performing in Rome, Misty gets a back spasm and has to resort to a local chiropractor—who manhandles her. Everyone in the audience flinches as he tackles her full on, crunches her joints, and whips her head around. But at the Q & A afterward, Nelson George told us that she went back to the same practitioner the next day.
5. Susan Fales-Hill, who has mentored Misty, talks about the guys she knows “who would rather fight in Iraq or have a root canal than go to the ballet” —and these guys are now buying tickets to the Met because they’ve seen Misty in photos or videos.
6. The moment when Misty turns a corner and sees a giant billboard of herself, she lets out a sort of groan-guffaw. By that point in the shooting, she was totally comfortable under the camera’s eye and was at ease just being herself.
7. OK, it’s not part of the film, but at the Q & A afterward, Misty showed her usual sweetness in answering questions. She wrapped up by saying “Ballet is life, pain, and beauty…If you don’t love it, it’s just not worth it.”
The film makes us realize how close Misty came, due to her debilitating leg injury, to never dancing again. If that had happened, it means we would have had to wait much longer for an African American female dancer to be named principal at ABT. And we would have been deprived of Misty’s dancing in all the roles we will now get to see her in.
What if there was a way to get your dancing in front of the likes of Desmond Richardson, d. Sabela grimes and Vincent Paterson all at once? Just in case you needed another excuse to break out your best moves this week, the Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival is back, and Richardson, grimes and Paterson are among this year's judges.
Dancers and non-dancers alike are invited to submit short dance films to the international online festival, with one caveat: The dancing has to take place in a public space.
The dancers file into an audition room. They are given a number and asked to wait for registration to finish before the audition starts. At the end of the room, behind a table and a computer (and probably a number of mobile devices), there I sit, doing audio tests and updating the audition schedule as the room fills up with candidates. The dancers, more nervous than they need to be, see me, typing, perhaps teasing my colleagues, almost certainly with a coffee cup at my side.
When we're talking about the history of black dancers in ballet, three names typically pop up: Raven Wilkinson at Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, Janet Collins at New York's Metropolitan Opera and Arthur Mitchell at New York City Ballet.
But in the 1930s through 50s, there was a largely overlooked hot spot for black ballet dancers: Philadelphia. What was going on in that city that made it such an incubator? To answer that question, we caught up with Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet founder (and frequent Dance Magazine contributor) Theresa Ruth Howard, who yesterday released her latest project, a video series called And Still They Rose: The Legacy of Black Philadelphians in Ballet.
Janie Taylor didn't know if she'd ever return to the stage. But that's exactly where the former New York City Ballet principal has found herself: Nearly three years after retiring, she is performing again, as a member of L.A. Dance Project.
Taylor officially debuted with the company at its December 2016 gala in Los Angeles, then performed in Boston, via live stream from Marfa, Texas, and at New York's Joyce Theater before heading off on tour dates in France, Singapore, Dubai and beyond.
"She is wildly interesting to watch—and not conventional," says LADP artistic director Benjamin Millepied. "There are films of Suzanne Farrell dancing, where you feel like the music is coming out of her body," he says. "I think Janie has that same kind of quality."
Last night was not your average Thursday at Bay Ridge Ballet in Brooklyn, New York. Studio owner and teacher Patty Foster Grado—a former Parsons Dance Company dancer—was teaching a boys class, when with only five minutes left, she heard commotion in the waiting area and someone yelled, "There's a lady giving birth in the bathroom!"
Where can you watch Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker, Coppélia and Le Corsaire all in one place? Hint: It also has extra-buttery popcorn.
Yep, it's your local movie theater. Starting this weekend, theaters across the country will be showing Bolshoi Ballet productions of classical and contemporary story ballets.
When commercial dancer Danielle Peazer took on an ambassadorial role with Reebok in early 2016, she didn't realize the gig would also lead to a career shift. But while traveling with and teaching workshops for the brand, the idea for DDM (Danielle's Dance Method) Collective started to take shape.