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Misty Copeland’s illustrated ode to the legacy of Black Ballerinas

Posted by Team APATA | Nov 3, 2021

From New York Times bestselling and award-winning author and American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Misty Copeland comes an illustrated nonfiction collection celebrating dancers of colour who have influenced her on and off the stage.

As a young girl living in a motel with her mother and her five siblings, Misty Copeland didn’t have a lot of exposure to ballet or prominent dancers. She was sixteen when she saw a black ballerina on a magazine cover for the first time. The experience emboldened Misty and told her that she wasn’t alone—and her dream wasn’t impossible.

In the years since, Misty has only learned more about the trailblazing women who made her own success possible by pushing back against repression and racism with their talent and tenacity. Misty brings these women’s stories to a new generation of readers and gives them the recognition they deserve.

With an introduction from Misty about the legacy these women have had on dance and on her career itself, this book delves into the lives and careers of women of colour who fundamentally changed the landscape of American ballet from the early 20th century to today.

BLACK BALLERINAS: My Journey to our Legacy

Full of beautiful illustrations by Berlin-based 2D artist Salena Barnes Black Ballerinas: My Journey to our Legacy will appeal to lovers of ballet and dance – young or old, as well as parents and educators looking for something special for Christmas or an end of year gift that celebrates diversity, representation and is absolutely gorgeous to boot!

A bit like Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls in that each double page spread is dedicated to one artist, accompanied by a glorious illustration by Barnes. Black Ballerina’s is available in Australia from Booktopia, Amazon AU, and more.

Discovering the untold stories of pioneering female ballerinas of colour and ensuring their stories are made known is Copeland’s legacy and we look forward to going on this journey with her in future. “This is just my beginning,” she says in her launch Facebook post, “Together with others who are lifting up and amplifying our history, these women and so many more will never be forgotten.”

In this interview with Publisher’s Weekly Copeland discusses “the challenges of researching these women, the process of writing and shaping the book, and the issues of racism and colourism in the ballet world.”

Copeland’s Black Ballerinas definitely has us in the mood for finding more performing arts inspired reads to gift our favourite people as the year comes to an end.

For more books by Misty Copeland:

Check out our article: 10 Performing arts inspired books for kids of all ages


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