Still stuck at home and looking for ways to honor a socially-distant Black History Month? This February, consider taking some time to educate yourself, and to celebrate the contributions and experiences of Black dancers with these seven inspiring book and movie recommendations.
The 2016 documentary from producer/director Frances McElroy interweaves the stories of trailblazing Black ballerinas Joan Myers Brown, Delores Browne and Raven Wilkinson with the experiences of Black dance students in the modern day. Available to stream on Amazon Prime.
"A Ballerina's Tale"
If you (like us) can't get enough of American Ballet Theatre prima Misty Copeland, this is the documentary for you. The 2015 documentary details Copeland's career, from her humble beginnings to her barrier-breaking rise at ABT, without shying away from the adversity she faced to become the company's first Black principal ballerina. Available to stream on Amazon Prime.
"Free to Dance"
The 2001 PBS documentary highlights several Black pioneers of modern dance in the 1900s, like Pearl Primus, Katherine Dunham, Talley Beatty, and many more. An added bonus: Many of the episodes are currently available on YouTube, and many of the film's accompanying resources are available online.
Dutch National Ballet Soloist Michaela DePrince first entered the spotlight as one of the featured dancers in the documentary First Position. In her 2016 memoir, Taking FlightTaking Flight, she details her journey from an orphanage in Sierra Leone all the way to ballet stardom.
Dance Spirit faves Chloe and Maud Arnold served as producers for this documentary that celebrates the African American roots of tap, and the way the dance form has spread around the world. Available to stream on BroadwayHD.
"Life in Motion"
More Misty Copeland, because why not? Be sure to check out Copeland's autobiography, Life in Motion, which dives even deeper into both her career and her inner thoughts about the classical ballet world.
"Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé"
Netflix's documentary about Beyonce's iconic 2018 Coachella performance (RIP Coachella 2020/2021) features some truly phenomenal dancers. We see you, Les Twins! The doc is available to stream on Netflix with a subscription.