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Ballet dancer Misty Copeland visits Cuba and talks diversity

DIVERSITY: Misty Copeland

AFRICAN-AMERICAN ballerina Misty Copeland, traveled to Cuba, where she practiced with local dancers and discussed the lack of diversity in ballet. In an in-depth feature by The Undefeated, the 34-year-old prima ballerina tackles the idea that people of color do not belong on the stage.

“There’s this stigma in classical ballet that brown people don’t belong” said Copeland. “And that the rich culture comes from Europe. Americans have created a long history now in classical ballet, and I think … we are not really appreciated or acknowledged, for as long as we’ve been a part of it — including African-Americans.”

At the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, where Copeland spent her time teaching some of the Havana’s most promising ballet dancers, she needs little help communicating with her Spanish-speaking counterparts.

“We’re visual learners. It’s easy for us to pick things up in that way. There were certain things … that I had to have translated, but overall we’re speaking the same language of ballet.”

Copeland went on to speak on the realities of racism and how she doubts it will ever go away. She wants to continue using her platform to push the conversation about race in classical ballet, hoping it doesn’t end with her.

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