Ever since I was a little girl, I have to be honest; I always saw myself twirling around in a fluffy skirt on the tip of my toes to Tchaikovsky, and when I learned that my aunt Sally wanted to put me in ballet as a child but didn’t because my mom dismissed it; I was a little devastated. I knew growing up if I told anyone of that dream, I would be shunned, outcasted and probably laughed. I knew this because the only color I had seen on that stage was white faces, none had my color nor my body image – to make me look back on and push my desires and dreams forward.
But just as generations change, so too does the world. African American ballet extraordinaire Misty Copeland has taken us out of our comfort zone and is destined to change the world one pirouette at a time. Like most people of color I hadn’t been to a true ballet, except for the time when my grade school class went on a field trip to see “The Nutcracker” but outside of that “a black family going to see a ballet” was out of the question.
However, ballet audiences are changing since Copeland has become the new face of the ballerina world; attracting a diverse group of on-lookers who are experiencing the ballet for the very first time. This experience has become known as ‘The Misty Effect.’ According to the Huffington Post, the effect reflects the unprecedented impact Copeland has had on people who are either experiencing the ballerina genre for the first time or are gaining a new perspective and appreciation for the art due to Copeland’s contributory efforts.
Copeland stands as a graceful symbol of excellence for countless people of color who are very supportive and enlightened to see a woman of color ruling an art that for centuries had been dominated by a different race. African-American families travel to the Lincoln Center in New York City to see her rendition of Swan Lake.
People of color from the youngest to the eldest describe their feelings of what it’s like to see a ballet that at last features a woman of color. I believe Copeland will continue to break records and make impossible dreams a reality for so many little girls of color. Although I may not be a little girl anymore, she has certainly given me hope, inspiration and limitless possibilities to keep dreaming. As we all can see, dreams really do come true.