Editor's Letter: Breaking Through Barriers

Published in the June/July 2014 issue.

Ashley Murphy, Ebony Williams and Misty Copeland. Photo by Nathan Sayers

Dancers of color face special challenges in their careers, particularly if they are women, which is why we wanted to focus on diversity in this career issue. Because ballet, for a variety of reasons, has been among the slowest art forms to embrace and reflect a diverse America, they stand out. They are held to a different standard; they have few role models from the past to guide them.

Pointe’s three cover ballerinas—Ashley Murphy, Ebony Williams and Misty Copeland—have felt the impact of race in their careers. Yet they have strived and succeeded. They are not only role models—they are consummate artists. Read their stories in our “Diversity in Ballet” special report. And learn more about the factors that remain a hurdle to change in “Behind Ballet’s Diversity Problem.” (Some companies are tackling them head on.) Then take a look at several milestones that have marked ballet’s gradual progress in “Moments in Time.”

This issue offers advice as well for dancers who want to grow artistically. Turn to “Want a Role?” to discover why ballet dancers find it particularly hard to ask for opportunities, and how to go about making a successful request. Keep in mind that learning how to ask for what you want will help you grow at any stage. In “More Than a Number,” you’ll find a primer on what to do if you’re placed in the wrong level for your summer intensive. While getting what you want can demand patience and effort, as Gillian Murphy reveals in “Becoming Giselle,” you will never get it if you don’t pursue it.

Ballet is hard. But, as Murphy says, it’s both humbling and exhilarating to bring a role to life. Don’t hold back.

 


In this issue...
“My work takes self-pride and discipline. This art form is too great to settle.”

—Ashley Murphy “Diversity in Ballet”