Black Ballerinas in U.S. Popular Culture
White Dixon, Melanye
African American Ballerinas
Blacks in Ballet
African American Ballet History
Ballet and Popular Culture
Black Ballet History
Performing arts and popular culture
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Series/Report no.:2013 Edward F. Hayes Graduate Research Forum. 27th
The ballet world has not been a stranger to bias; in fact, the difficulties that a black ballerina already faces in finding a place in a ballet company demonstrate this bias. In order to tackle the issues of beauty and bias, the successful black ballerina has utilized both her performance abilities in ballet and her involvement in popular culture. A recent example is Misty Copeland, who has been featured as a collaborator with the legendary pop star Prince and was later promoted to soloist ranking at American Ballet Theatre in New York City. Similarly, Aesha Ash was a ballerina who performed as a dance double in the movie, Center Stage, for the actress Zoë Saldana, and danced in the corps de ballet for the New York City Ballet (NYCB). Dancers like Copeland and Ash have experienced more opportunities in ballet following their work in the field of entertainment. Unfortunately, many are missing from historical dance texts, though their contributions to dance and popular culture are obviously noteworthy. This presentation ultimately draws from published articles, archival work, film, and oral history, to historicize the black ballerina and her strategies used to overcome commonly held notions of beauty and technical competence in ballet.
The Arts: 3rd Place (The Ohio State University Edward F. Hayes Graduate Research Forum)
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