After that we start following Misty Copeland , as she goes about her day-to-day routine. Something in which everything is tightly controlled and manufactured for consumption, to the point nothing seems real or raw. A stress fracture in her shin threatened Misty's career, and the film follows her recovery and remarkable ability to become an even better dancer after the injury and surgery. In one of the film's most climactic and triumphant bits, prominent and accomplished black women from around the country come to see Copeland perform in this groundbreaking production. Couple of comments: this is not an earth-chattering documentary by any means, yet it serves a good purpose, namely to shine the light on the lack of diversity in the ballet world. The film premiered on April 19, 2015 at the. There is no mention of Wilkinson being forced to paint her face white for her performances as a young girl, the violence she faced in some southern towns the company performed in, or her eventual leave from the company.
Ballet's traditional aesthetics were imagined and defined by George Balanchine, a Russian choreographer often regarded as the father of American ballet. The documentary gives an in-depth picture of Copeland's struggles with being black in a predominantly white Ballet world and it chronicles her experience recovering from a leg fracture - one that could've stopped her dream of becoming a principal dancer. Is ballet special, or are race relations in the fine arts reflective of the rest of the world? I liked it so much I saw it twice when it was on Netflix last year, and I wish it was still available, as this is definitely something my 16 year old stepdaughter would enjoy. The film's conflict occurs when Copeland faces an injury not long after opening Firebird. His vision of the perfect dancer led to a culture of eating disorders, depression and impossible standards for body image. George's film leaves the audience wanting more because they know that so much more exists.
The film neither focuses intently on Copeland's life and story or the topical issue of race in the ballet world. Injuries are obstacles faced by athletes at all levels. The film's best sequence has Misty connecting with Raven Wilkinson, who was a ground-breaking dancer from the 1950's. All of that said, even though we hear from Copeland herself and get an inside look as she navigates the ballet world, at times there's a certain remove to the film. Of course, we also are treated to a few extended dance performances from Misty — both live performances and the under-appreciated practice sessions. Not clear whether the mixed race parents she spoke about were her biological parents or her adoption parents.
Copeland's struggles reach much further, as do her accomplishments. Even though she didn't start dancing until she was 13, you can tell from the footage of those first years how much talent and grace she had from the get-go. How do Copeland's experiences compare with those of some of her predecessors -- the other African-American ballet dancers of years past who never made it as far as she did? Injuries are obstacles faced by athletes at all levels. Again, strange that even though she was promoted as a trail blazer for women of color in ballet, it was only towards the end that there was acknowledgment of such women present in that art from half a century and more previously especially in the more accepting Europe. Nelson George's documentary A Ballerina's Tale tells the story of the trailblazing African American ballerina Misty Copeland. George chooses to focus largely on Copeland's struggle with her pain and her duty to continue climbing to the top of the ballet world as an African American woman. For while Copeland is charismatic, and surely this documentary will make for a good foundation in case her life is even dramatized, there remains this feeling that it belongs in a niche.
Her talent leaves us in awe, and is surely inspiring an entire generation of young dancers. But ultimately A Ballerina's Tale is not only instructive but inspiring. Ballet's traditional aesthetics were imagined and defined by George Balanchine, a Russian choreographer often regarded as the father of American ballet. Much of A Ballerina's Tale focuses on Copeland's groundbreaking rise at American Ballet Theater. Not discussed and certainly an important part of her story.
For whether you are physically seeing, through an X-ray, the damage it did on Copeland's body, hearing what many would consider horror stories, and Copeland pushing the idea her pain tolerance is almost superhuman, to not leave the film respecting the madness and love these performers have, I think would be impossible. Copeland's place in ballet history -- and American history -- comes to life in this engrossing documentary. Many scenes depict Copeland leaping and bounding about the stage accompanied by a narration of her pain. Which isn't to say Copeland's struggles aren't documented, but more so title cards provide you details than imagery of the blood, sweat, and tears which come from dance practice or her having what could have been a career-ending surgery. With a living legend as a subject, it is curious that George chooses to focus on Copeland's recovery from an injury as the subject for the film.
This short segment touches on the belief that ballet is one of the last remaining institutions of white supremacy in the modern world. The film begins just before Copeland receives the lead in Firebird, one of the most iconic and prestigious roles in ballet. For one, this isn't something I think is of universal interest, nor is it on the level for a non-ballet fan to suddenly take an interest. We are also provided a peek at the physical grind and incredible strain that these dancers go through to appear so graceful and effortless on stage. Of which, largely remains unseen.
George chooses to focus largely on Copeland's struggle with her pain and her duty to continue climbing to the top of the ballet world as an African American woman. Couple of comments: this is not an earth-chattering documentary by any means, yet it serves a good purpose, namely to shine the light on the lack of diversity in the ballet world. A feature documentary on African American ballerina Misty Copeland that examines her prodigious rise, her potentially career ending injury alongside themes of race and body image in the elite ballet world. Within A Ballerina's Tale, however, a basic overview, or rather foundation, is given so that you are made aware just enough without being overwhelmed. The main one being: ballet is no joke. Then there is the footage of Copeland performing.
George fails to provide insight into Copeland's complicated and interesting backstory. George includes various clips of Copeland's physical therapy in which she is violently bent and cracked. The two briefly discuss race and the importance of discussing its issues openly. In some scenes we see her meeting young fans, and it's clear she's had a huge impact on them -- and the world. Or, as one of the 'talking head experts' phrases it in the movie: why does ballet look like the Alabama Country Club in 1952? Then there is the footage of Copeland performing. The Sunday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended okay but not great. With a living legend as a subject, it is curious that George chooses to focus on Copeland's recovery from an injury as the subject for the film.