Misty Copeland Sounds Off On Gender Equality in Ballet and Gives Her Advice for Young Black Ballerinas

May 6, 2018

Misty Copeland is unstoppable this month: In addition to releasing a buzzy new line of super-pretty activewear, designed in collaboration with Under Armour, she also sat down with Refinery29 for an in-depth interview, discussing everything from diversity in ballet to her take on fitness trends like barre classes.

In the interview, Copeland added her thoughts to the current debate around gender inequality in ballet, the lack of female choreographers and directors, and the frequent problematic themes and portrayals of women in classical ballets.

Copeland believes: “The history of classical ballet has always been solely focused on the woman and the ballerina, so she clearly has a bigger role in any full length ballet than any man would. I don’t know that going back in time and revisiting these classics there’s ever going to be equality, because the roles were created the way they were. But, moving forward, there’s definitely a way to have [equality].”

Copeland further explained that she hopes that more works will be done going forward that bends gender roles or gender-specific movements, and argued that presenting classical ballets is a way for audiences to realize how much work still needs to be done.

And our favorite part?

Her shining advice for young dancers of color:

“[I’ve always] felt it was my responsibility to go out and find Black dancers that I could connect with and relate to, because I wasn’t seeing it on the stage. I think it’s important not to get caught up in the fact that they’re not surrounded by people that look like them, but to embrace their individuality, and their uniqueness. I would say to these dancers to work hard, and try not to get so bogged down by the fact that you’re a Black dancer, but that you’re just a dancer.”

Head to Refinery29
to read more words of Misty’s wisdom, and watch a video of her interview.