2 Ballet Dancers: Misty Copeland and Marta
Misty Copeland, a soloist with New York’s American Ballet Theatre was interviewed last Sunday, May 10th, on 60 Minutes. [See: 60 Minutes Season 47 – Episode 33] As I watched, I wondered how Marta, my 84 Ribbons and When the Music Stops leading character compared to a real ballet dancer. Let’s find out.
Both young women stand at five feet. Both were raised mostly by their mother. Both began their training in simple settings rather than ballet academies and worked far beyond their regular class hours to perfect their dancing. Both felt music rather than danced to music. Both sustained major, potentially career ending injuries.
Now the differences. Misty Copeland’s life experiences reach far beyond those of my character Marta. Misty didn’t begin her life as a dancer until the was 13 which is a very late start considering how accomplished she is today. My character had ten years classes before auditioning for a professional position. Instead of taking the usual 3 years to become proficient en pointe, Misty became proficient in 3 months! She also proved naysayers wrong when she was repeatedly told African American dancers would never become professional stars; they don’t have the turn out or the proper body proportions. (Marta had a near-perfect ballet body, but, like Misty, she lacked academy training.) In my novels, Marta has the total support of her mother whereas Misty’s mother had four more children to consider and raise, leaving her little time and no money to provide training for Misty until a dance instructor discovers her innate talent.
The biggest difference between Misty and Marta is that Misty is a real person who has faced extreme problems and come out on top. Her tenacity and desire to dance are wonderful examples of what a person can accomplish when personal focus and dedication are strong.
Are their other comparisons you notice? Please share your view after you have the opportunity to watch the 60 Minutes excerpt.