Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Misty Copeland in ABT's Swan Lake

I really gotta stop counting how many Swan Lakes I'll be watching in this lifetime. I bought tickets to American Ballet Theatre's 'Swan Lake' for Misty Copeland. I was quite ready to ditch the tickets if Misty Copeland wasn't dancing on opening night as scheduled. Luckily she did. (Some friends bought tickets to see Hee Seo on the second night.) I'm not going to bother discussing about the ballet itself. The critics can break it down for you exactly how these Swan Lakes differ when different companies present it.

While the corps de ballet were really mesmerizing in Act Three, I was really there to watch Misty Copeland dance Odette/Odile, and for the grand pas de deux. She has been dancing these roles for two years since her 2015 debut as principal dancer of American Ballet Theatre (ABT). When I saw her on stage, she was a little underwhelming. Imho, she's a talented dancer, although her stage presence doesn't fully enchant, yet.

More than being a principal ballerina, in today's context, Misty Copeland is also a celebrity who could cross divides and nail the tough conversations. I didn't bother to read her books- 'Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina' (2014) and 'Ballerina Body' (2017). There're enough interviews and excerpts for me to have an idea of their content. All the marketing and hype surrounding her is typical of Instagram times.

She doesn't shy away from discussions about body image, and the issues that conservative strange part of America will always struggle with- race and bi-racial identities. She also overcame stress fractures in her leg to dance at this professional level. I am glad that she broke through the biases of the world of ballet when it comes to principal ballerinas. That alone, is an incredible feat of determination, effort and hard work put into her chosen career. That's not just talent, it's sheer grit.

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