*Widely known as the most elite forms of dance expression, ballet is also one of the disciplined and challenging.  To succeed as a ballerina, a dancer must have ambition and intelligence, coupled with a great instinct and passion for the art form.

The recent success of the film “Black Swan,” has introduced the immense beauty of ballet to a large audience who might be surprised to learn that a real “black swan” actually exists in their midst. Meet American Ballet Theatre soloist, Misty Copeland, who sans the drama and neurotic disorders displayed by Natalie Portman’s character has established a career that is filled with artistic excellence.

At its core, the “Black Swan,” was about the journey towards excellence – something that Misty Copeland strives to achieve with every performance.  It is a pleasure and honor to introduce RTSC readers to this spectacular young lady.

Robertson Treatment: Why do you think ballet not been more embraced by popular American society?

Misty Copeland: think that ballet has not been embraced by popular American society because it can seem intimidating, not as modern as other forms of dance, and not relatable. One of my goals is to really bring the world of classical ballet to the masses. It’s a beautiful form of artistic expression and is an enjoyable experience.  When you see a ballet, you’re experiencing a story unfold filled with emotions that run the full spectrum, from happiness to sadness, from loss to triumph.

RTSC: How did you cultivate your talent for the art form?

MC: I cultivated my talent for the art form by doing my research, studying intensely non-stop from the age of 13 and am still doing so. Ballet is not an art form that can be concurred. I think the education aspect never ends. We are always developing, always tweaking and working towards perfection.

RTSC: The success of the film, Black Swan, recently shined light on the competitive environment that exists in ballet. How do you cope with the pressure for “perfection”?

MC: I think you have to have a certain personality to be an artist, especially in the ballet world. We are always striving for perfection, which doesn’t exist, so it is interesting to feel that my goals are endless. I think you have to come to terms with that. I am striving for perfection through my own eyes.  I am not being competitive with other dancers, but with myself.

RTSC: Given the short career life for a dancer, what are your plans for the next stage in your career?

MC: My plans for the next stage of my career will definitely still involve ballet. I would love to start a foundation with a focus on mentoring young dancers, particularly black students. I’d like to work towards getting the right training and education for them, dance clothes, shoes, etc.  In large part, a dancer’s training and education are critical to their futures and having a successful career in ballet. I am also developing a dancewear line right now for the “real” woman. Women with curves. It’s a market that doesn’t exist. I would also want to coach on a professional level.

RTSC: Why have so few blacks or other minorities been successful in ballet?

MC: I think so few ethnic dancers have succeeded in ballet because there never has been an extremely successful one to make it in a top company. So there is no role model. I think that we have always felt shut out because of this. Because the ballet began with royalty, there has historically been an air of exclusivity associated with it.  Hopefully, my presence in this world, and the success of other emerging dancers, will start to chip away at this legacy and create a more diverse universe of talent and fans of the ballet. I hope to see at the Met during American Ballet Theatre’s season this spring some of the Prince fans who saw me perform during his recent Welcome 2 America tour and who’ve written to me via Facebook and Twitter to say how much they enjoyed my performance. If I can be a part of bringing a new and wider audience to classical ballet, I will feel a great accomplishment.

RTSC: What can be done to encourage greater interest in ballet and other forms of classical dance in the US?

MC: I think to encourage greater interest in ballet, we need to expose it to pop culture which the film, Black Swan, has done. As with anything else, if it’s not on television and easy to access, people feel either intimidated by it or they have no interest at all. I hope that by my being a black woman has opened a line of communication for other ethnicities to not only become interested but also to become involved and engaged.

For more information on Misty Copeland, please visit www.mistycopeland.com and for a schedule of performances for American Ballet Theatre’s Spring 2011 season, which begins May 16, go to http://www.abt.org/.

 

BEST BETS – MUSIC

Putumayo Presents: JAZZ

Leave it to Putmayo to assemble an all-star lineup of legendary artists to showcase on the label’s upcoming compilation called “Jazz”. Featuring original masters from Maxine Sullivan, Chet Baker, Anita O’ Day, Mose Allison, Cannonball Adderley and Billie Holiday, Putmayo Presents: Jazz excellently showcases one of America’s true great art forms. Highlight tracks include: “My Baby Just Cares For Me” by Nina Simone; “Someone to Watch Over Me,” as tracked by Zoot Sims , “They Say It’s Spring, Blossom dearie and “Lover Come Back to Me,” by Lady Love herself.

This is a great collection for both jazz connoisseur and newcomers alike.

Grade: A+

 

AUTOMOTIVE SPIN

2011 Lincoln MKX

A mid-size luxury offering from Lincoln, the MKX represents great new changes and amenities. With its eye-popping exterior personality, fine-looking interior and  great on-the road handling, this ride can confidently compete for “best of class” in its vehicle category.

Wow Factor:   The MKX’s unbridle elegance is engaging for its passengers and bystanders alike. This ride’s splendid interior appointments and sophisticated exterior are definite head turners. I received countless compliments literally every day that I was in the MKX, which of course made me feel like a big dude on campus.

Ride: Powered by a 3.7-liter V6 that makes 305 hp and 280 pound-feet of torque offers the strength and power for a variety of road conditions. With a reputation for near perfect driver protection, passengers in this ride should have every reason to feel comfortable on the road.

Comfort: The MKX’s handsome cabin offers easy accessibility to control and gauges. Both front and rear seats offer great support, plus ample leg room. It’s cargo space is highly functional and competitive with other vehicles in its class. Overall the MKX will provide both drivers and riders with an easy riding experience.

Spin Control: With a base MSP at approximately 40 grand, the MKX is worth every cent of it. The ride has decent fuel economy (it gets 17 – 19 city | 23 – 26 highway), strong on the road performance and A+ bling factor. This is a perfect luxury vehicle for drivers on the way up!

Grade: A

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