The dual part of Odette and Odile in Swan Lake is THE role, the one every trina dreams of from the moment she first dons a leotard. It's also insanely difficult to perform, challenging even the most elite ballerinas with its multifaceted demands.
So what's it actually like to dance Odette/Odile? A new short film from American Ballet Theatre goes behind the scenes with three Swan Queens—principals Misty Copeland and Isabella Boylston and soloist Devon Teuscher—to find out.
We often call dancers superheroes, but rarely do we mean it literally. Today, though, we do: American Ballet Theatre's Gray Davis is a superhero.
The 31-year-old corps member was waiting for the train at NYC's 72nd Street Station on Saturday night with his wife, soloist Cassandra Trenary, who'd just performed in The Golden Cockerel at the Met Opera House. When they saw a woman push a man onto the tracks, Davis jumped down after him, risking his life to lift the man to safety.
What's one of the most important differences between ballet dancers and "normal" athletes? Misty Copeland says it best: "We're working like professional athletes are, and most of those athletes have state-of-the-art buildings and the environment they're in is very high end. We don't get the same funding and things like that as professional athletes and teams. So it's difficult."
Would you like to absolutely drown in beauty today? Yes? Of course you would. And we've got just the video for you: "Now More Than Ever," created by Ezra Hurwitz for the Ballet Across America festival, which is currently underway in D.C. The four-minute fantasia features American Ballet Theatre stars Isabella Boylston, Stella Abrera, James Whiteside, Marcelo Gomes and Calvin Royall III performing ravishing bits of choreography in, on and around the historic Kennedy Center.
One is American Ballet Theatre's first African American female principal; the other is the United States' first African American president. Obviously, Misty Copeland and Barack Obama are incredible role models. But it turns out these two leaders have even more in common than you might think. (And no, we're not just talking about the fact that Obama also has pretty impressive dance skills...although, fair point.)
Recently, Time magazine—which named Copeland and Obama two of its Most Influential People in 2015—had the pair sit down for a candid interview with reporter Maya Rhodan. As Rhodan pointed out, both were born into multiracial families, both were raised by single mothers and both have risen to the top of their respective fields. And that was the jumping-off point for a convo that ranged from how race has affected their careers to body issues in the ballet world to basketball star Steph Curry.
It wasn't all super-serious! (screenshot from Time.com)
Unsurprisingly, the eternally poised Copeland held her own with the leader of the free world—and Obama, eloquent as usual, showed off a pretty decent knowledge of the ballet scene, too. (He's probably picked up a few pointers from Copeland since appointing her to the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition back in 2014.) Here are a couple of dance-related highlights from their discussion:
Barack Obama: "You know, as the father of two daughters, one of the things I’m always looking for are strong women who are out there who are breaking barriers and doing great stuff. And Misty’s a great example of that. Somebody who has entered a field that’s very competitive, where the assumptions are that she may not belong. And through sheer force of will and determination and incredible talent and hard work she was able to arrive at the pinnacle of her field."
Misty Copeland: "I think that having a platform and having a voice to be seen by people beyond the classical ballet world has really been my power...It’s allowed me to say, it’s okay to have a healthy athletic body. We are fully capable of doing everything that the person who doesn’t have an extremely athletic body, that is more thin. We’re fully capable of doing exactly the same thing....And it’s I think forcing a lot of these top tier companies to address the lack of diversity and diversifying the bodies that we’re seeing in classical ballet."
Watch the whole interview here: