We were all as excited as could be to hear that the two new ABT principals were going to appear jointly on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry Show to talk about their new positions and answer the question, "How should a dancer look?" Well, take a look at what happened.
Number of video clips of dancing – Misty 5; Stella 0
Number of times photo was flashed – Misty 21; Stella 7
Splashy book plug – Misty - Yes
Philippines charity plug – Stella - No
At least there was some humor contributed by Misty who was wearing extra brown face makeup that made it look like she had darker skin. The problem was that she forgot to put the brown-face makeup on her light neck; thus, she looked like a lighter skinned person trying to pass as a much darker African American to appeal to Melissa’s audience.
Melissa was very interested in how the two dancers were informed of their promotions. Stella described the company meeting that occurred, and then Melissa asked, “Did you know before that moment?" Stella quickly answered "No." Then Misty suddenly jumped in with an elaborate, lengthy explanation that each dancer’s situation is different and that when she was promoted to soloist, she was called into a private meeting. But why was it necessary for her to describe this exception when discussing having the principal promotions announced in a general meeting? It seemed to confirm strongly that ABT had alerted Misty and her publicity machine weeks ahead of time that she was getting the promotion so that they could blast the media with “promotion is just about to happen” stink bombs and drive more book sales and more appearances and more attention to Misty Copeland who publicly campaigned for her promotion with lies about racism in ballet and ingratitude toward those who paved the way for her, instead of earning the promotion the way the respected and admired colleague sitting next to her did.
ABT’s GM-inspired media strategy of What’s good for Misty Copeland is good for ABT has so disgusted other artists that it’s no wonder some were excising Misty’s picture from the formal portrait of the group of promoted dancers or tweeting how publicity wins over talent.
She’s definitely in need of reputation repair in the professional community. Dragging Stella or any other colleague with her to an interview and then hogging the video and photo opportunities during the event is not the road to repair. It’s the road to complete confirmation of negative opinion.
Of the comments running in the sidebar next to the video, this most interesting declaration appeared:
“[L]ets not get confused, these two are not the first ballerinas of color rising to the level of Principal Dancer in a major ballet company. Actually, this story is more about (or at least as much) ABT finally catching up with those companies that had the awareness and foresight to recognize talent and ability...even when it comes wrapped in a brown wrapper. Some of these progressive, visionary companies did the same thing 25 to 60 years ago."
We will just add that the ABT artistic directors who preceded the current one made a good start on diversity when it wasn’t popular to do so. The current director failed to build on their efforts for twenty years until the idea of diversity became popular and a gimmick for marketing.
Oh, a note on those video clips of Misty - there were no clips of Misty performing either fouettes or hops on pointe. Perhaps she could be the poster-child for Nike’s campaign with its popular attire which bears the slogan: