BDBB: The Black Dance and Broadway Blog

Covering black professionals and professional productions in the dance and theater worlds, plus general arts news

Dance: Skimpy Misty documentary airs tonight

Dance Misty Copeland

This photo provided by American Ballet Theater, Misty Copeland and James Whiteside acknowledge the audience after appearing in “Swan Lake” at the Metropolitan Opera House on June 24, 2015. It was Copeland’s New York debut in the lead role. (Gene Schiavone/American Ballet Theater via AP)

“A Ballerina’s Tale,” the Nelson George directed documentary about ballerina Misty Copeland airs tonight on PBS stations. Check your local listings for airtimes.

This is a very basic primer about Copeland and her rise to the top as the first black woman to be named a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre. It includes some fascinating footage of Copeland, especially scenes from her student days. Also interesting are scenes from her training for her comeback after a surgery that almost derailed her career.

But the documentary doesn’t go deeply and never provides a full picture of the environment that Copeland exists in. And Copeland is never really pushed to say more than what she already has shared with the world in countless other interviews.

The ballet world is notoriously thin skinned and rife with jealousy and slights. The fact that Copeland has not just survived but thrived with head held high and dignity intact in this world is what makes her story all the more astounding.

But “A Ballerina’s Tale” doesn’t go there.  It’s a pretty and engaging primer, certainly worth a viewing. But unfortunately, it only skims the surface. The definitive chronicle of Copeland’s story is still waiting to be made.

 

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