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November 24, 2014


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I modeled for him in the '80s. He was very professional and it was an honor to work with him. I wish him the very best with the lawsuit.

Hi Fmrdncr. Do you know whose legs those are in the famous legwarmers poster? I've been wondering for years.

I danced and was friends with Bruce Wurl, who told me that it was his legs shown in the legwarmers poster. See this link from 1985, http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20090307,00.html. Bruce and another dancer, Jonette Swider, mentioned in the link, sued Harvey Edwards. I don't recall learning how their lawsuit against Edwards ended. Jonette teaches in Southern California. Bruce has passed away. Bruce was a dear man and good friend.

In follow-up to my last comment, see http://articles.latimes.com/1987-07-17/local/me-2745_1_legal-battle. The Swider/Wurl lawsuit against Harvey Edwards settled for $35,000.

Thanks, J, for the links. Interesting history.

In the current case, it looks particularly bad for Misty and/or her manager in that, according to the complaint, even AFTER being contacted by Edwards about the misuse, the images were used again on Misty's behalf. It almost looks like an instance of in-your-face "I will do what I want" regardless of whether it's right or wrong. Of course, it wouldn't be the first time Misty did something like that - just read her book and the texts of some of her interviews. It's practically pathological.

I'm an attorney and I've read the complaint. I'm no copyright expert, but the complaint seems to be a straightforward and uncomplicated claim. If the facts are proven, I can't imagine what defense Misty would have. If it happened as described, this blatant, unauthorized, and very public misuse of famous copyrighted images strikes me as the height of arrogance and stupidity. It's not only immoral, it's a serious violation of federal law, and who in the world would continue to use the images after being warned? It's not looking good for Miss Copeland.

Thanks, Nicole, for the input.

Misty has gotten away with a lot in the past that she shouldn't have, e.g., claiming to be the first black female soloist at ABT, claiming to be the victim of racism and bigotry in ballet, claiming to be the first black Firebird, claiming that most people think of ballerinas as flaxen haired with ivory skin, claiming that most of her peers grew up as rich and advantaged, implying neglect by her mother, implying that her bust was a race-based attribute that was holding her back in the ballet world, claiming that SAB denied her entrance to a summer program because of her color, and on and on and on. Given what she has already gotten away with unchallenged, she may think that there is not much that she can't get away with including unauthorized use of Edwards' iconic images.

No one should be surprised if Misty's PR team tries to turn this into some kind of racial attack by a white man and use the media to stir up hate and sympathy.

Those legs are purported to be Misha's, but I can't validate it.

Thanks, FrmrDancer. Commenter "J" above provided some links that indicate that the model was Jonette Swider. She also confirms that in an interview here: http://www.tremainedance.com/wherearetheynow/?mode=details&watn_id=12

I think that poster was responsible for many young dance students taking the scissors to their legwarmers and tights.

claiming to be the first black female soloist at ABT

Has she done this? The claim that I've heard about her is that she is currently the only black woman in a major classical ballet company who is not in the corps. That is accurate.

b>claiming to be the victim of racism and bigotry in ballet

That's not hard to believe. It is sort of funny how the ballet community seemed to be very complimentary of her performance in Firebird, yet her dancing suddenly became terrible when she published her autobiography and began to talk about race in classical ballet.

claiming to be the first black Firebird

Not sure when she's claimed this, either. I believe that Stephanie Dabney performed the role first.

claiming that most people think of ballerinas as flaxen haired with ivory skin

Well, most professional ballerinas do look that way (maybe excluding the flaxen hair). Balanchine idolized Suzanne Farrell's "alabaster" skin. And the most successful ballerinas of color have been Asians or fair-skinned Latinas, who are closer to conventional ideas of femininity/attractiveness than black women.

claiming that most of her peers grew up as rich and advantaged

Even if her peers weren't mega-wealthy, ballet is an expensive undertaking and one generally does not find low SES students in ballet studios.

like implying neglect by her mother, implying that her bust was a race-based attribute that was holding her back in the ballet world

These are not surprising either. She lived in motels with her mother + multiple siblings, and her mother actively impeded her dance career. Not everyone dancer has a supportive family. (Allegra Kent, anyone?) Re the bust: everything that I've read/seen says that Misty though that race + bust place her at a disadvantage. Obviously, there are white women in the world who have large busts.

claiming that SAB denied her entrance to a summer program because of her color, and on and on and on.

I've heard that Misty did not get in to SAB, but I've never heard/read her say that she was denied due to her race.

Regarding the suit: I hope that this is resolved amicably. I don't think that this is a time to rub our hands in glee.

KT, you're coming to the conversation without having done your homework. If you had read Misty's book, if you had read pertinent interviews, if you had followed the garbage that SHE and her PR machine have been spewing instead of just offering a knee-jerk reaction to other people's responses when they, in fact, have read those items, you would probably think differently. You, like a few others, are simply responding to the responses of people who have actually invested time and money in examining Misty's story and ongoing saga. You haven't done the requisite reading yourself in order to offer a quality opinion on the matter. You're just responding to someone else's response.

Read her book, check out her claims, read her ridiculous interviews. Everything I stated above has been discussed and documented previously on this blog.

You're coming very late to the conversation without having done your homework. DO YOUR HOMEWORK before you start complaining about others' criticisms of Misty Copeland.

Just watched her WSJ Cafe interview and when asked about the rejection letter, she said "they (SAB) weren't ready for a little brown girl". Well, if you watch Ballo with M.Ashley which is ancient, you'll see a very capable black girl dancing a solo. Sadly, it look like Misty is milking the race tit to the last drop.

True, New Yorky. That's Debra Austin who Balanchine plucked out of SAB at age 16 to join NYCB back in the 1970s before Misty Copeland was born. He created a solo in Ballo for her. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hv8T5M1j5D0

It is unfortunate that Misty has pursued a path of revising and reconstructing history for her own benefit and disrespecting others in the process. And it is truly sad that the mainstream media has served as her enabler in that respect.

No doubt there's prejudice towards dark skinned girls in ballet. Michaela DePrince and Precious Adams (who has a "ballet body") didn't have it easy being very dark. Nevertheless they found work in well-known European ballet companies.

For all her African-American pride and light brown skin, Misty often wears a pale make up on stage. I didn't recognize her as Queen of Dryads when she entered - she looked white. If she champions ballerinas of color and is the ultimate role model for "little brown girls", why not be natural - not a Snow White.

I happen to like Misty. She's gifted, has a stage personality and is excellent in neo-classical rep. It doesn't get lost on me that she wants to make history as the first black principal at ABT. However, I feel she should get there by being a high caliber artist not because of an agressive self-promotion exploiting racial bias. Just show a compilation of your best classical and contemporary work as evidence of your principal level abilities.

I've seen her at her best in 2013 and more recently, post injury, in weak performances - as Queen of Dryads she didn't pull through the italian fouettes not once but twice and couldn't jump in 2nd Shade. I was disappointed because in the previous season she stole the show as Blue Bird and was great as Firebird. But I'm willing to cut her some slack - coming back from a long injury takes time.

Who knows, she might be better Odile than Hee Seo. This one can't finish her fouettes. This is the level ABT tends to show these days. She's got gorgeous classical lines and feet but no emotion or profound artistry or an impressive technique. Nice in pretty princess roles that mask her superficial qualities.Leaves me cold and wanting for more everytime I see her.

Sorry for the long essay :)

Hi New Yorky. One of the worst things about Misty's over-the-top self promotion is that she publishes photos and videos that are clear evidence of her major shortcomings as a ballet dancer, not to mention the pornographic composition in some of them that she distributes to her young fans. She couldn't wait to publish a video clip of her performance in Swan Lake and chose to lead it with Odile's fouettes in which she had to begin them in the far upstage corner because she knew they were going to be awful and travel half the stage. I've never seen an ABT Odile or any professional Odile make that kind of compromise. What it showed is that after all of her self-promoting hoopla, Misty did not put in the work needed to do the job. It is totally inexcusable that she was granted the opportunity to dance that role at ABT before Sarah Lane, and it is criminal that she has been handed the role of Juliet. I don't care how many years she has been there, she's not qualified to dance either role at the level expected from an ABT dancer and certainly not more qualified than Sarah Lane, Stella Abrera or many others.

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