Misty Copeland is living history. She is doing for ballet what Tiger Woods did for golf. The ballet world is white as snow and for a Black woman to accomplish what Copeland has achieved is a first of its kind. Though high-profile endorsements and her very own cover of TIME are enough to brag about, her most notable achievement is becoming the first Black woman to be named a principal at the American Ballet Theater, which was founded in 1937. Yep, it took 78 years.
The Southern California native is single-handedly bringing a whole new audience to ballet, but unlike Tiger, she is fulling embracing being Black. The opening line of A Ballerina's Tale is Copeland saying, "I think people think that sometimes I focus too much on the fact that I am a Black dancer. But that's so much of who I am and I think it's so much a part of my story."
Although Copeland's story is still in the making, a look into her world as a rising star and cultural phenomenon is fascinating and rare. Imagine seeing a doc at the beginning of Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan or Whitney Houston's career? Directed by renowned documentarian Nelson George, A Ballerina's Tale exquisitely captures the moment in Copeland's life as her star explodes. With sharp pacing, George chronicles her physical struggles (at not even 30, Misty endured major knee surgery), work ethic, pain and triumphs. In addition, A Ballerina's Tale isn't just about Copeland, but about the Black ballerinas who came before her. George managed to give us a living history lesson using Misty Copeland as the vessel.
A Ballerina's Tale is solely about the work. We don't see or hear from Copeland's family and there is only a quick glimpse of the man in her life. In our reality television, drama-driven culture, this might be a disappointment for some, but the film is as graceful as ballet itself. There are no gimmicks or salacious details. A Ballerina's Tale is a nuanced, polished presentation of one of the hardest working women in her field — or any field — and if you need a little inspiration in your life, this is the film to watch.
A Ballerina's Tale opens in select cities and available on demand tomorrow. Watch our exclusive interview with Copeland below:
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(Photo: Urban Romances Productions)