Black ballet dancer Misty Copeland had the perfect, and most graceful, response for a critic who attacked her for a “fail” during a recent performance of Tchaicovsky’s “Swan Lake.”
Copeland, who’s the American Ballet Theatre’s first-ever Black principal dancer, received harsh words from a social media troll after she failed to complete a series of fouettés, or turns at a pivotal moment near the end of the historic ballet. As the lead,, Copeland was supposed to complete 32 turns but only managed to do 12.
“This is why @mistyonpointe is the WORST and why it’s an embarrassment to @ABTBallet to even have her on the roster, much less as a principal dancer,” a woman named Henrietta tweeted. “No wonder the rest of the world thinks American ballet is a joke.”
Copeland didn’t let the harsh rebuke bring her down and instead took it in stride, embracing the public criticism. She posted a screenshot of the nasty message and posted it to Instagram, telling fans she’ll always “be a work in progress and will never stop learning.”
Link in my profile. I’m happy to share this because I will forever be a work in progress and will never stop learning. I learn from seeing myself on film and rarely get to. So thank you. I will always reiterate that I am by no means the best in ballet. I understand my position and what I represent. I know that I’m in a very unique position and have been given a rare platform. All I’ve ever wanted is to bring ballet to more people and to help to diversify it. I’ve worked extremely hard to be where I am and I believe that what I bring to the table is authentic artistry with a unique point of view through my life experiences, and my unusual path and upbringing. Also as a black woman and black ballerina. I would love to see all of the incredible deserving black dancers get the opportunities that I have. I will forever be humbled and extremely grateful for the fact that I get to do what I love for a living, that I get to do all of the incredible roles that I do, in particular Swan Queen. There are so many ballerinas that never get to experience dancing the most iconic and demanding role in a ballerinas repertoire. I have so so so much respect for what I do and for the ballerinas I stand on the shoulders of. I’m in awe everyday that I am a part of such an incredible art form that has changed and enriched my life in so many ways and that I get to do it all with ABT. I don’t decide who’s promoted or what roles I dance. I never envisioned myself as the Swan Queen after being in the company for almost 15 years before i was given the opportunity. I have such deep and conflicting feelings connected to Swan Lake. As a black woman and as a ballerina given the chance to take on this role. I often question if I deserve to perform this role. My conclusion, I do. Some of the most memorable Swan Queens in history have brought so much more to this role without having to present the incredible and evolved technique of today by doing insane tricks that bring some to see Swan Lake. For the anticipated 32 fouettés. But it is so much more than that.
“I will always reiterate that I am by no means the best in ballet. I understand my position and what I represent,” Copeland wrote. “I know that I am in a very unique position and have been given a rare platform. All I’ve ever wanted is to bring ballet to more people and to help to diversify it.”
Copeland proceeded by expressing gratitude for all the opportunities she’s been afforded, including the “iconic” and demanding role of Swan Queen.
“As a Black woman and a Black ballerina, I would love to see all of the incredible deserving black dancers get the opportunities that I have,” she added. “I will forever be humbled and extremely grateful for the fact that I get to do what I love for a living, that I get to do all of the incredible roles that I do, in particular Swan Queen.”
Many fans came to the ballerina’s defense, applauding her on her beautiful performance, despite the on-stage faux pas.