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Articles: Emancipation 150: Black Women in Classical Ballet

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This upcoming conversation with 4 African-American dancers seems important! If anyone goes, please do report back:




*note that a moderator split this thread from ami's post through the current discussion to it's own new thread. The Emancipation series at Greenespace seeks to: "Beginning January 2013, we'll gather a collective of changemakers, newsmakers, tastemakers and New Yorkers to discuss one of the most important documents in American history, examine its legacy and reflect...."

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Please do report back if anyone attends, DD was invited to go but her company is performing this weekend and she could not arrange it.

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I emailed the greene space to ask if this event would be recorded or webstreamed for those who are very interested but cannot attend, so I will post again if I hear anything from them.

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Hi Moderators I hope this is ok to post:


Here's the response from The Greene Space about Emancipation 150: Black Women in Classical Ballet


Yes, this event will be streamed live via our website, www.thegreenespace.org. Thank you for your interest in The Greene Space, and we hope you get the chance to watch!



The Greene Space Team

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Fabulous!!!! Yes, thank you julisha! :clapping: :clapping:

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Awesome! thank you so much! I should be able to catch the beginning of it, but then will have to run to a meeting - still would love to hear people's thoughts. Julisha, thank you thank you thank you! And Momof3 - very cool about your DD. I am impressed!

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Ladies you are so kind. I just wanted make sure that we weren't locked out of an opportunity to hear about this critical topic simply because some of us don't live in New York area.

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An interview about the Greenespace program: CBS New York footage with Misty Copeland and Virginia Johnson

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This clip was terrific, Momof3darlings! Thanks for sharing. I can't wait for tonight's panel discussion! :hyper:

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Guest Missmary

Lauren Anderson is gorgeous, no? Thanks for reminding me of her name, Momof3, and thanks for your work in developing our discussion here.


Lauren Anderson is a mover and a shaker in the Arts community of Houston, and maintains close connections to Houston Ballet - of note is her vigorous effort to introduce classical ballet to young children throughout the metropolitan area, particularly among young AA children. My granddaughter met her last year during her time at Houston's SI. Ms. Anderson dropped into class one day and thoroughly engaged with all the young dancers. Ms Anderson is a dynamo - she was an incredible classical ballet dancer and danced many principal roles during her time with HB. My granddaughter, who is not AA, was so excited to have met her, and said that it was the highlight of her SI. You can find extensive history of her inspiring life with HB on the internet.

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I thoroughly enjoyed last night's panel discussion, Emancipation 150: Black Women in Classical Ballet. I hope this can grow into an ongoing dialogue, with other ADs and dancers participating, schedules permitting.


A few of my takeaways:


1) the identification of oneself as a "ballerina" is indeed a powerful thing, no matter what age or race/ethnicity. It is what bonds my daughter to her friends, and them, to this artform, that they speak this centuries old language of ballet, enjoy the hard work and discipline, and share the love/passion for it.


2) I would like to hear from AA ballerinas outside the NYC ballet bubble, like Lauren Anderson and others who are currently dancing at classical ballet companies that are not ABT, DTH or NYCB. I know that New York is the center of the universe :wink: , artistically, culturally, politically, etc., but frankly, its prestigious ballet companies have not been as progressive in the hiring of AA dancers as other smaller ballet companies in other parts of the country. It would be interesting to hear the story of Courtney Lavine, the other AA ballerina in ABT alongside Misty and compare the journeys.


3) It was great to hear about DTH's rich history and I'm looking forward to seeing their company in June. The dancers look beautiful and i was impressed to see how well they danced on the stage literally the size of a matchbox.


4) I would have liked to hear more discussion on increasing the number of AA ballet dancers. I believe the presence of Ashley, Misty and Virginia J. as role models certainly helps. I know we have discussed that on this board. I did hear either Virginia J. or Misty mention more community programs. Community programs are a great way to expose kids to the possibilities and ignite the spark, but that is only one part of the solution, which may or may not address the issue of developing AA ballerinas into company ready dancers and increasing the hiring of AA ballerinas. Many companies have these programs, but these programs don't translate into moving dancers into the highest levels of training, say in the company's school. There are financial and mentoring supports needed that are not encompassed by community programs, simply because the needs of an advancing dancer become increasingly individualized and a community program is for all. The community dance programs offered through our dance organization are focused on getting kids to express themselves artistically whether it's fighting against peer pressure to do drugs or fighting obesity and realizing the health benefits of exercise. These are wonderful programs that impact/change lives, but becanse there are varying objectives to these programs, the outcomes are not geared to developing ballet dancers.


5) Virginia J. made an excellent point about bringing the world to ballet vs. bringing ballet to the world. It is a point that has been made by many ballet critics, former dancers, choreographers and ballet fans. For ballet to continue to survive/thrive, it should adapt to modern times and embrace audiences and dancers of all backgrounds.


Did anyone else watch?

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Moderator hat on: I've split this thread from our African Americans in Ballet thread. Consider it a secondary topic to our African American Dancers thread, but also one in which we hope others will view the program and share their perspectives. No matter what your ethnicity, the dancers on the panel, are/were amazing ballet dancers and they have wisdom and experiences to share but let's do keep this topic to sharing based on having watched the program first. It will be up for a while if there is interest. Moderator hat off to discuss personal views. :-)

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  • Momof3darlings changed the title to Articles: Emancipation 150: Black Women in Classical Ballet

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