BWW Reviews: Misty Copeland Shines at American Ballet Theatre

Whether dancing principal or soloist roles, soloist with ABT, Misty Copeland, glows. At present, a soloist with the company, her presence on the stage demands attention; and she gets it.

This season, at the David Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, Ms. Copeland danced three ballets. On November 1st, I saw her dance a soloist role in Twyla Tharp's Bach Partita. Whether dressed in the same brown, skirted leotard as the demi-soloists or wearing an unflattering skirt, her stature, elegant carriage, and stage presence were evident to everyone in the audience. She radiated energy and personality. While many dancers hold rigidly to certain "ballet rules", rendering them boring, Misty Copeland danced with every fiber of her being, not straying from the technique required to be a ballerina.

In Mark Morris's Gong, Ms. Copeland danced a principal role, dancing a pas de deux with Marcelo Gomes, in silence. The effect was breathtaking. To dance without music, one must be especially powerful to engage an audience. As it happened, I saw Gong again, on Nov. 3rd, with a different cast. The same pas de deux had no impact. The passion and musicality of the dancers, required to reinforce the impact of the choreography, were missing.. To dance without music, one (or, in this case, both) must be especially powerful to be engaging the audience, pleasing them. As it happens, I saw Gong again on Sunday, Nov. 3rd, with a different cast. On this day, the same pas de deux, in silence, had no magnetism. The musicality and passion of the dancers is required to create the impact of the choreography.

On November 10th, Copeland danced Theme and Variations, in a soloist role. In this ballet, royalty reigns. Not all of the dancers, however, looked truly regal. Of the four female soloists, only Copeland's upper body and long neck reinforced an air of nobility. Her dancing was sparkling. I hope to see her perform the daunting leading role, in the future.

It has been said that the hue of her skin, her diminutive stature, and her well-developed muscles, set her apart from the sameness of the other company dancers. None of this detracts from her performance. In this season's repertoire, as well as in every ballet I have seen her perform, previously, she gives herself to each role. It takes more than a strong technique to become a ballerina. It takes musicality and the ability to act, with heart.

I look forward to seeing Misty Copeland continue to grow into the principal dancer she was born to be.

Photo Credit: Kent G. Becker

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Misty Copelland, in Gong

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