Misty Copeland. Photo Credit: Mireya Acierto/Getty Images

Heroes USA3. October 2022

Ballerina Pushes Stereotypes Aside, with (Free!) Dance Classes for Minority Children

In order to see the change in the elitist art form that is ballet, the first Black woman to become a principal dancer in an American ballet company has launched her free after-school ballet program for children from minority communities.

“I really want to hold onto the beautiful aspects of ballet—the discipline, the creativeness—and get rid of those old, stereotypical things that don’t make for a good experience, especially for Black and Brown children,” explains ballerina Misty Copeland who, in 2015, became the first Black woman to secure the highest position for a female dancer at American Ballet Theatre.

The ballet program called BE BOLD is for kids ages 8 to 10 and will first take place in two Boys and Girls Clubs in New York City. The first goal is to admit hundreds of students this year, and thousands in the future. The artists who will train kids in ballet, music, and health will themselves be trained by the National Dance Institute. The change that is taking place following the Black Lives Matter as “the discussions are more honest, and they’re coming from a real place of wanting to create change,” inspired and encouraged Copeland to do her part in democratizing ballet, making it more inclusive, and giving back to the community.

Smithsonian Magazine

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