Why would ballet's biggest star want to promote a video of herself messing up, and a tweet saying that she doesn't deserve to be in American Ballet Theatre?
Because she's bravely proving some important points:
1. Fouettés don't matter.
"A ballerina's career is not, nor should be defined by how many fouettés she executes," Copeland writes. As she says, she's an authentic artist who brings so much more to the role of Swan Queen—or any role—than tricks and technical feats. The point is to move people through the steps; not just to execute them perfectly.
Fellow ABT principal Isabella Boylston puts it best in the comments: "If people come to the ballet only to see fouettés they should just stay home and watch them on YouTube on their couch."
2. She's held to a higher standard than other dancers.
Becoming the first black female principal at ABT wasn't easy. And it didn't come without baggage.
"I understand my position and what I represent," she says. "I know that I'm in a very unique position and have been given a rare platform. All I've ever wanted is to bring ballet to more people and to help to diversify it."
The truth is that principal dancers at prestigious companies mess up all the time. But when other dancers fall out of a turn or flub a step, you usually don't hear people talking about how they don't deserve to be where they are. She's judged more harshly because she's become so famous for being a groundbreaker—and because she's black.
3. Dancers are real people with feelings!
And they'll see the mean tweets you write about them. Have some respect for what they do before judging them on one performance.
(Of course, Copeland is so classy that she thanks her hater for giving her an opportunity to learn from watching video of herself.)
4. Even big stars mess up.
Copeland is a role model to so many, and she takes that responsibility seriously. She's proving that it's okay to acknowledge your failures and imperfections—in fact it makes you stronger. Especially for ballet dancers, it's essential to realize that you don't have to be perfect to be amazing.
We're seriously in awe of Copeland for having the courage to stand up to her haters.
Todd Rosenberg, Courtesy Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
Alexandra Wells can always tell when a dancer hasn't read her summer intensive information packet. Sometimes, says Hubbard Street Dance Chicago's director of artist training, there's a quick fix for the lack of preparation. "You can go and buy a long-sleeve shirt after you burn your shoulder really badly in that first floorwork class," she says. But not bringing enough of your special-order pointe shoes? "That's really dire."
Between reading the fine print, shopping for necessities and ramping up physically, getting ready for a summer intensive takes more than just dancing a lot. We broke down a step-by-step timeline: