For its annual career issue, Pointe enlists Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Ashley Murphy, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet’s Ebony Williams and the American Ballet Theater’s Misty Copeland to discuss an ongoing problem in ballet communities: lack of ethnic diversity.
This isn’t a new situation and neither are attempts to call greater attention to it. In 2011, Sierra Leonean phenom Michaela DePrince was featured in the award-winning documentary First Position, which discussed the challenges she’s faced while ascending through the rarefied ranks of dance as a dark-skinned ballerina.
At 19, DePrince currently dances with the Dutch National Ballet’s junior company, but she still experiences institutional racism in the artform. In a 2013 interview she astutely noted, “As a black ballerina racism is less about what happens to you and more about what doesn’t happen to you.”
Read more about these great black ballerinas in the Washington Post