Thank you to Disney and ABC for inviting me to Los Angeles on an all-expense paid trip, in exchange for coverage of Disney’s the Nutcracker and the Four Realms event. I was hosted by Disney for the #DisneysNutcrackerEvent and given the opportunity to interview Misty Copeland but all opinions are my own.
Last week at this time, I was interviewing Misty Copeland. Just so you know, I felt like I was floating above my own body and could not believe that I was in the same room with such an inspirational and empowering woman who is not only a game changer in her field but an advocate for change for girls and women everywhere. More than that, she is my little girls’ personal shero.
I can honestly say that Misty Copeland was one of the most gracious and authentic people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. On top of all of this, I had had the opportunity to ask her a question that my daughter really wanted me to ask. Her answer was pure inspiration.
They reached out to me which was kind of shocking. I’m not an Actress but I understand the Nutcracker connection, clearly. It was like a really organic fit and they were just really open about letting me kind of take the lead. They’re like, we don’t know Ballet, this isn’t our world so please teach us. We’re going to entrust that you’re gonna have the right team.
They allowed me to choose a choreographer so I selected Liam Scarlet. He’s a Choreographer in Residence for the Royal Ballet in London and I had worked with him before.
When they brought the idea to me, it was based on the book, the Nutcracker Book. It wasn’t based on the Nutcracker Ballet so there was no Ballet in this version of the story. They were like we can’t do the Nutcracker and not have Ballet in it, so they created this Character for me, the Ballerina Princess just as a way to have ballet in it. I’m the storyteller so it’s like a performance within the movie to share the story of the four realms and tell it to Clara. It’s awesome.
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I don’t know if there was a step. I feel like the first ballet class that I took was on a basketball court at the Boys/Girls Club in San Pedro, California. I don’t want to say that I hated it but it was not something I thought I was gonna do. I think all the other kids that were also coming from underprivileged backgrounds like me and none of them had danced. They were all older. I was 13.
But they all had their gear on, whatever it was. They had leggings or tights and I was in these baggy basketball shorts and socks and I was like, this just isn’t right. It just doesn’t feel right.
I think it wasn’t until the first time that I was taken on scholarship into the local ballet school and I put on the pink tights and the leotard and I could see myself in front of the mirror. That’s when it clicked, I felt beautiful for the first time in my life. I felt right. I felt like everything. Who knows if it was actual reality but in my mind, being a black young girl, being super skinny with long legs and these massive feet, big hands and little head, of which everything was just wrong in the real world. I stepped into the studio and it was like Oh, everything is exactly right. These are the proportions and I was just like woah! It gave me such power and confidence like I’d never experienced before.
I feel like, first of all, if you like it do your research. I think the majority of like the greatest ballet dancers all started after the age of 13, which is kind of crazy. I think that it’s just proof that it’s not about that. I understand the reason that they (the ballet schools) like to start you out before you hit puberty, it’s so that they can really mold the body and it (movements) becomes second nature. You know because the ballet technique is so detailed, that once you get to the level of a Professional dancer, there are so many other things you’re thinking about that you can’t be thinking about technique.
You’re learning Choreography for up to 10 Ballets in a week that you’re performing. You’re growing as an artist and becoming a character. There’s so much to think about and that’s why we start so young. But it’s possible. I think that it’s about what you do with the time that you’re in the studio. I was taking 3 to 4 classes a day, just trying to catch up. But I think with the right support and the right will and push. If you’re working with a teacher that’s telling you that you can’t do it, then you need to go somewhere else. It’s possible to be anything you want to be, if you have someone that supports you and if you have representation to look at.