Dreaming on your feet
A little girl walked into the Bradley household.
Cindy Bradley introduced the little girl to her family as Misty Copeland who will be staying with them in the house.
She waived the little girl’s ballet school fees and some of the community members contributed to the girl’s equipment.
Cindy Bradley had a specific vision for this new student. She was Black and it was very unlikely for Non-White people to be Ballerinas.
Cindy took this girl when the girl’s mother with her 6 children had to move to a single room house far away from her school.
Her mother had no option but to ask the little girl to stop learning Ballet.
However, her teacher had different plans for her career and took her to the Bradley household.
This was the beginning of the girl’s dreams. But, this happiness seemed to have short lived. Petty conflicts started affecting Bradley and the girl’s mother. Soon, the situation got quire ugly.
The girl didn’t see the Bradley’s for another decade. However, she went on to apply for ABT’s Summer Intensive Program, her dream school, where she was accepted.
But as per luck has it, the road was yet not filled with roses. The girl discovered she had a lower-vertebral fracture. She had to wear a brace twenty-three hours of the day, and for a year she was unable to dance at all. A doctor, learning that she had not yet menstruated, told her that this was likely contributing to weakness in her bones. He recommended that Copeland begin taking birth-control pills to induce puberty. Within ten days, she began menstruating, and in a short time her figure changed from ballet-tiny to Marilyn Monroe. Her body, which at the start of her career had been considered perfect for ballet was suddenly no longer suited for her health. She was scheduled to play the role of Clara in Nutcracker and a decade passed before she was offered to do it again.
She then started suffering from Binge Eating disorder and became very conscious about her body image which affected her performances. Her friendship with Victoria Rowell and a few others helped her gain perspective and now her body structure became an integral part of her dance personality.
This Girl is none other than Misty Copeland- The first African American Ballet Dancer to become a principal ballet dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre.
In December 2014, Misty performed the lead role of “Clara” in American Ballet Theatre’s production of The Nutcracker, also choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky.
In the fall of 2014, she made history as the first black woman to perform the lead role of “Odette/Odile” in American Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake during the company’s inaugural tour to Australia. Misty reprised the role during ABT’s Metropolitan Opera House spring season in June 2015, as well as debuted as “Juliet” in Romeo & Juliet.
She said, “you can start late, be different, be uncertain and still succeed.”
This is the charm of Ballet. It makes you believe in everything you could be, regardless of how impossible it seems.
It is difficult to balance oneself on one’s toes even for a couple of seconds but when you see ballet dancers gracefully dancing around the stage, it all seems so effortless and beautiful.
Such is the magic of Ballet. But the beauty of it is not all visual, it also has amazing health benefits. These include enhanced posture, increased flexibility, good sensory motor coordination. It also helps release stress and improves cognitive abilities.
Ballet, as it stands today, began during the Renaissance around the year 1500 in Italy. In fact, the terms “ballet” and “ball” as in masked ball, come from the Italian ballare, to dance. When Catherine de Medici of Italy married the French King Henry II, she introduced early dance styles into court life in France.
The etiquette and rules of the dance form were developed in the court of King Louis who himself performed many a times. It was initially performed by men. The dance form then spread to Russia and France.
Professional Ballet, today, is led by companies like The Australian Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, National Ballet of Cuba and many more. The world Ballet competition sees the applications of a large number of aspirants who display extraordinary talent on the biggest forum for Ballet.