About this project
About A BALLERINA'S TALE
At age 13, Misty Copeland was attending the Boys and Girls Club of San Pedro, California, when a dance instructor asked if she’d be interested in participating in a ballet class.
At age 15, Misty was one of the top ballet prospects in California and was being profiled in a PBS documentary on a state wide arts competition.
At age 17, Misty was in New York City and a member of the American Ballet Theatre, one of the world's leading ballet companies. She danced the title role of the Firebird at the Metropolitan Opera House, making her the first black woman to play that signature character in a major ballet company. Making this accomplishment that much more impressive, she performed this part with six stress fractures in her shin.
This journey would have been unique in the world of dance on its own. Learning ballet at such an “advanced” age and making it to a premiere company made Misty an anomaly. But Misty was also a black woman with womanly curves which, based on the standard popularized by the father of American ballet, George Balanchine, meant she didn’t have the body for ballet. The skinny, long limbed swan with a thin neck and European features has been the ballet standard for half a century.
Misty’s career is a challenge to every stereotype of what the ballerina symbolizes and should be.
A BALLERINA'S TALE will look at the values of a European cultural expression that has tried to maintain its values in the face of an aging audience base and its increasing irrelevance to mainstream culture. Misty’s life embodies a number of themes that speak to the larger culture and her personal challenges. Race, body image and Euro-centric perspective are mixed in with her own physical challenges.
Misty will narrate the film, bringing us intimately into her world. Several of Misty’s favorite ballets will be filmed in multiple camera shoots that will bring us close to dance in ways less frantic and more realistic than the popularized Hollywood film, Black Swan.
Where will my money go?
Money raised will go towards the filming of stage performance pieces for the documentary. The pieces are: Toccare, a contemporary pas de deux that Misty will dance with Principal dancer and choreographer Marcelo Gomes; Paganini, a contemporary solo; and a classical variation from the ballet La Bayadere.
For your support we are offering exclusive rewards like film credits, one of a kind screensaver of Misty Copeland, a signed copy of Misty Copeland's 2013 calendar, a signed pair of pointe shoes, a copy of Misty Copeland's upcoming e-book ("Life in Motion publishes March 2014), a personal Thank You phone call from Misty Copeland, a seat at the film shoot of one of her performances, backstage access to an ABT performance, and more!
Nelson George, Director/Producer
Nelson George is an author, filmmaker, television producer, and critic with a long career in analyzing and presenting the diverse elements of African-American culture. Queen Latifah won the Golden Globe for playing the lead in his directorial debut, the HBO movie "Life Support". The critically acclaimed drama looked at the effects of HIV on a troubled black family in his native Brooklyn, New York. He recently co-edited, with Alan Leeds, 'The James Brown Reader (Plume)', a collection of previously published articles about the Godfather of Soul that date as far back the late '50s. Plume published the book in May '08. Nelson has been on a roll since 2013 with completed documentary projects: VH1's Rock Docs Finding The Funk, Showtime's "Brooklyn Boheme" (which was supported by Kickstarter), ESPN's "The Announcement", the short "All Hail the Beat" for the Focus Forward campaign. He hopes to continue that success with A BALLERINA'S TALE.
Cliff Charles, Director of Photography
For nearly 20 years Cliff Charles has served as a Director of Photography on projects ranging from Chris Rock’s Sundance winning documentary, Good Hair, the Spirit Award nominated film, Jellysmoke and the Jamaican Gangster film, Shottas. He’s earned two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Cinematography on Spike Lee’s multi-award winning documentaries, When the Levees Broke and If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise.”
Risks and challenges
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