A group of young ballerinas from the Mayfair Performance Company on Chicago’s south side joined Steve Harvey on his talk show (airing Friday) to show him their best moves. But Mr. Harvey had a surprise in store: introducing the gifted dancers to their role model ― ballet icon Misty Copeland.
Copeland has devoted her life to disrupting ballet history’s of privileging white bodies and European traditions. After learning ballet at the Boys & Girls Club growing up, she moved to New York when she was 17 years old and joined the American Ballet Theatre, the only black dancer in a company of 80.
In 2015, Copeland was declared a principal in that same company, becoming the first black female principal in its 75 year history. Copeland has written a children’s book and memoir about her journey to break into a field that historically excludes women of color and has spoken extensively about her mission to diversify the ballet landscape for future generations.
“You know one day, if you study this long enough,” Harvey told the Mayfair dancers, after they declared their love of Copeland. “One day you could meet her. One day you could be her. Wouldn’t that be exciting?”
He then asked the ballet dancers to turn around ― adorable hugging and crying ensues.
The Mayfair girls showed Copeland their own skills on the show, performing a stunning number for the ballet icon, as well as for Harvey and the studio audience. These gifted and passionate young women certainly deserve an equal opportunity to dance professionally. There is still far more work to be done in the ballet world, but Misty Copeland and other bold dancers putting pressure on ballet to change, and fast, are helping to make this possible.