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Misty Copeland Reveals Ballet World Uses ‘Code Language’ To Disguise Saying ‘You Don’t Have The Right Skin Color For Ballet’

Misty Copeland Reveals Ballet World Uses 'Code Language' To Disguise Saying 'You Don't Have The Right Skin Color For Ballet'

Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland Reveals Ballet World Uses ‘Code Language’ To Disguise Saying ‘You Don’t Have The Right Skin Color For Ballet’

Ballet dancer Misty Copeland is committed to opening up the world of ballet for people of color, especially Blacks.  She started dancing at the age of 13 and says she was once told that she had the “right body, the proportions, the physicality” and was considered a prodigy, until four years later when she moved to New York.

Misty joined the American Ballet Theater and that’s when she noticed that things changed.  She expressed,

“All of a sudden everything’s flipped on it’s head and all of a sudden I’m being told, ‘Well you don’t have the body for ballet’”.

She further mentioned:

“You know that’s that’s language that’s used that the ballet world can get away with because you’re in a visual art form, it’s about your aesthetic and it’s subjective so that’s what they say to black and brown dancers to disguise saying you don’t have the right skin color for ballet.”

Misty admits that she didn’t have the best relationship with food and how some of the criticism caused her to overeat.  She stated that in the ballet world is when she was told to rid herself of her muscles, butt and breasts, but credits Black women for supporting her through those times.

“I had incredible black women around me that were supporting me, that were showing me that it’s okay to be the first, it’s okay uh to be the only, but you’re not alone like we are all here with you, and that was a huge turning point for me and I’ve just had so many incredible Black men and women that have come into my life that have just kept me on track.”

Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland, the first Black principle dancer at American Ballet Theatre (though she credits two other Black women as soloists before her), says that she’s working on a production called:

“Black ballerinas and it’s really to create the start of our own history book for Black ballerinas from generations that are not documented. We don’t have one book where we can sit down and the next generation can learn about the history of Black dancers”

What are your thoughts on the “code language” Misty talked about?  Share below.