Video: Misty Copeland, Carmen de Lavallade and Raven Wilkinson in Conversation

Friday, July 17, 2015

This season, Misty Copeland broke not one, but two major cultural barriers: she became American Ballet Theatre's first African-American female principal dancer less than a week after being the first black ballerina to star in ABT's Swan Lake at the Metropolitan Opera House.

Why is this breakthrough possible now, and what does this civil rights triumph mean for the future of ballet's performers and its audience? Copeland and dance legends Raven Wilkinson and Carmen de Lavallade joined us live on stage for a conversation on July 17moderated by writer and producer Susan Fales-Hill.

"I still don't feel worthy enough to be up here with these incredible women," an emotional Copeland said. "[They] fought even harder than I did to get to this point."

Watch an excerpt:

Watch the entire conversation:

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Comments [2]

Susan Fales

Dear Jonathan,

Four hundred years of history have clearly eluded you. This country, unlike Europe or South America has a "one drop" rule. It is only in the past ten years that the census has allowed those of us with "mixed" parentage to declare it on a form. When a child is born in a New York hospital there are precisely five choices, "Caucasian, African-American, Asian, Hispanic or Other." None of it matters since race is a scientific fiction, and merely a social construct, but culture is real. Misty proudly identifies with black culture, which is quintessentially American culture. One should applaud her.

Jul. 24 2015 06:40 PM
Jonathan from New York City

Why is Misty Copeland considered African-American if she is 50% Caucasian? Why not call her White or half-white?

Jul. 20 2015 10:41 AM

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