Misty Copeland is soloist for the American Ballet Theater. Her story breaks all the rules for ballerinas as far as I understand them. My experience as a ballet dancer consisted of one recital when I was 6 years old. I wore a purple tutu. So I'm obviously an expert.
It takes a tremendous amount of commitment and drive to become a successful ballet dancer. Misty Copeland had the drive but encountered obstacles that seemed random at best. She started ballet at the age of 13, which is considered "too old." Copeland is African American and she was trying to make her way in a world dominated by white girls and women.
We are all born with inner talents and abilities. Some of us are certainly more coordinated than others. I will never be long-legged; I never had speed or strength to be an athlete. Tenacity and effort can overcome these impediments sometimes, but we are all limited to some degree.
The rejection letter Copeland reads is heartbreaking. I imagine, though, that prestigious ballet schools get more applicants than they can handle. I understand they have to draw the line somewhere. But in drawing that line so finely--as in Copeland's case--what do we lose? Are we unable to imagine that a graceful, beautiful dancer could be shaped slightly different from the Ballanchine ideal?
When we tell ourselves that we aren't beautiful if we don't look a certain way, we're drawing that fine line for ourselves. We're saying out ourselves "Your body is wrong." Let's open up our imagination in away that allows our graceful, beautiful dancer to shine through.
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