© Meagan Westerberg Henao and Henao Contemporary Center
Carriage, lines, extensions; Emanating from the long, lean, Principal Ballerina. She is the juxtaposition of soft fluidity and a chiseled frame, more sculpture than human. The monochromatic combination of her pale pink tights and matching pointe shoes creates an almost endless movement that is liable to take your breath away. The experience of this effect is not an accident. The traditional pink tights and shoe pairing is, by design, intended to create the artistic appearance of a long, leg line; expressly the long leg line of a tall, thin, white female.
Until recently, not only did dancers of color not see themselves represented on stage, but they did not even have options for proper costuming should they courageously pioneer the art form. When American Ballet Theater Principal Ballerina Misty Copeland, also notably the first African American Principal Ballerina, began dancing at age 13 she was blessed to train in a studio where her artistic director valued and understood the importance of this visual impact. She honored the craft of ballet and empowered her dancers by dying tights and shoes for her dancers of color. She painted shades of Amber, Sienna, Sandalwood, Mahogany, and Espresso, lyrically and dynamically, across the stage - all the way to the American Ballet Theater.
Misty's role is equally significant. At a remarkably petite, and muscular 5'2", and an authentic artist, she counters everything that ballet has been and brings it exactly where it's supposed to be; where the artistry stems from within while adding a new depth and complexity to a feast for the eyes. That is ballet.
- Meagan Westerberg Henao