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BWW Reviews: Misty Copeland Transforms into Princess Clara

Misty Copeland transforms into Clara the Princess

At BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music), December 14th, 6:00 pm, I was fortunate to see Misty Copeland dance her first performance in the lead role of American Ballet Theatre's The Nutcracker. Although she still holds the title of soloist with ABT, she is an accomplished ballerina, with the rare distinction of being a crossover celebrity. Not only was her full house, an adoring audience, mesmerized, I was in rapture.

Copeland's performance was exemplary. Alexie Ratmansky's choreography for Princess Clara (to the usual music of the Sugar Plum Fairy) is especially difficult. I have seen otherwise beautiful dancers in this role who slipped and faltered multiple times and were unable to give their best performances.

Copeland took this very challenging choreography, applied her happy, genuine personality and her exceptional technique; and voila...magic happened.

As her partner, Eric Tamm, was lifting her, she was beaming, making the movement fluid and natural. As he lowered her, she was still beaming. She was exuberant and glowing, displaying authentic joy and sweetness, while executing this unusual pattern of steps and lifts with great technique and freedom of expression. She was having fun, as were we, her audience.

Not a free seat was there to be had in the theater. The entire audience, which included many children, was mesmerized. Copeland cast a ballerina's spell, far reaching beyond her celebrity image, which held the attention of each of us. Not only was I in the presence of history being made, as she is the first African American woman to dance the Principal role in ABT's The Nutcracker, but I was witnessing an unparalleled, rare performance by any ballerina, without consideration of ethnicity.

ABT's spring season 2015, at the Metropolitan Opera House, will offer both Swan Lake and Romeo and Juliette with Copeland in the principal roles of Odette/Odile and Juliette. I eagerly await these treats. If this deserving dancer is not promoted before the spring season, we can look forward to seeing her in soloist roles, as well. A soloist who is moving up must perform more than any principal dancer. If this is a test, she receives high scores.

Photo: Richard Termine

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