Misty Opens Doors and Hearts

As we contemplate how much progress we as Americans have made in human relations we are reminded of those who have come before us, who mistyhave sacrificed and struggled to achieve their dreams and make others possible.

As a young ballet student, I attended one of only two Philadelphia dance academies open to African American children, the Marion Cuyjet School of Dance. I dreamed of a career as a principal dancer with one of New York’s most famous companies. On television I watched with awe as a woman of color, Maria Tallchief, captivated the television audience. Tallchief was tall, beautiful, graceful and elegant. In my eyes, she was the luckiest woman in the world, she was following her heart and achieving not just her dream but also mine. It seemed so far fetched that I would ever be that accomplished and fortunate, but her appearance on television gave me hope. Years later one of my ballet school classmates, Judith Jamison, would wow the world as the principal dancer of the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. She was no doubt inspired by the numerous African American dancers who visited the Cuyjet School and by the gifted Marion Cuyjet who led the school. Now the world knows another phenomenal dancer, Misty Copeland, the principal dancer of the American Ballet Theater.

In today’s New York Times we get new insight into the challenges African American women and girls have faced in pursuit of their dreams of dancing on the world’s stage. The NYT piece is written by former dancer and college instructor Laurie Copeland, who superbly captures the glory and tragedy of African American ballet dancers and Misty’s story

Perhaps Misty’s assent will not only open doors for dancers, but open hearts and minds to the potential of all young people who have aspirations…..to dance, to sing, to invent and to lead. Our grandchildren are counting on it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/15/opinion/black-dancers-white-ballets.html?_r=0