Misty Copeland wants to change the perception people have of what a ballerina is supposed to look like. The acclaimed performer will be releasing her new book with publisher Simon & Schuster’s Aladdin Books imprint for middle-school aged readers called Black Ballerinas.
The book will be illustrated by Salena Barnes and is meant to honor the trailblazing women of color in dance that came before and who have influenced the next generation, a goal that Copeland cares deeply about. “Part of my mission is to bring awareness to the contributions of Black ballerinas. To give a sense of the rich histories of those who may not be documented in ballet history books, yet their careers—and legacies—are no less valuable and inspiring,” the dancer said in an interview with People.
“I’m going to share my personal stories, connections to, and experiences with these groundbreaking women. Here are my intimate snapshots of those journeys. I am infinitely grateful for their legacies. This is my bow to them.”
Copeland has worked in advocating for diversity within ballet including calling out the Russian ballerinas for wearing blackface during their performances, at the BLACK ENTERPRISE Women of Power Summit last year.
“They’re (Bolshoi Theatre) one of the biggest, most elite companies in the world, they’re in Russia, and they still perform in blackface,” she said during her speech. “I … made it aware to the broader world just by posting a photo of the little girls in blackface. I don’t think I can ever go back to Russia now,” she added to some laughter in the crowd. “I don’t think they’ll let me in.”
Copeland has previously published other books including a picture book called Bunheads that came out last year in addition to her kids’ book Firebird and her memoir, Life in Motion.
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