A fixture in the dance and theater world for over six decades, de Lavallade helped pave the way for current stars like Misty Copeland and Michaela DePrince. In the clip below, I ask whether she carries any sentiments of resentment about the lack of opportunity for black dancers when she came up as opposed to today.
Ballet's diversity problem can be distilled to two key obstacles: economics and lack of representation. We can directly address these issues in two concrete ways: by improving access to dance education for lower income students across racial lines, and by increasing representation of dancers of color on our stages.
It's quite overwhelming to be in the presence of someone who crushes multiple stereotypes, and does it with grace. Misty Copeland is African American. She does not have the typical "ballerina's body." She didn't have access to classical ballet early in life, so she began dancing "late" -- at age 13.