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Black Ballerinas Address The Issue Of Race In Ballet World

3.4.13 Ballet Dancer

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NEW YORK (WLNY) – American Ballet Theater soloist Misty Copeland and dance theater of Harlem artistic director Virginia Johnson have made a name for themselves in the world of ballet.

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Misty is a rising young black star in a disciple dominated mostly by white dancers. Johnson is a founding member of Dance Theatre of Harlem and its principal ballerina over a career that spanned nearly 30 years.

The two are taking part in a panel discussion titled Black Swans: Black Women in Classical Ballet, taking place Monday night.

“The classical ballet world is lacking black dancers, and I think the more we talk about it, the more people will understand why,” Misty said.

“When I was ready to start getting a job, someone said to me ‘I think you should go into modern dance, because there are no black ballerinas,'” Johnson said. “I had an amazing career with Dance Theatre of Harlem…it’s about bringing something new to this art form.”

Misty joined ABT’s Studio Company in September 2000, joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in April 2001 and in 2007 made history by becoming their third African American Female Soloist and first in two decades.

Tickets for the panel are $15 and are available here.