Alexandre Hammoudi and Misty Copeland in Swan Lake, during ABT's Australia tour. Photo by Darren Thomas

Misty Copeland and Brooklyn Mack to Dance in the Washington Ballet's Historic "Swan Lake"

Misty Copeland will make her U.S. debut of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake in April, with the Washington Ballet. Though she will dance the role with American Ballet Theatre in June, Copeland's debut at the Washington Ballet is particularly historic. She will partner with WB dancer Brooklyn Mack, one of the few African American men in the ballet world.

The two of them dancing together in Swan Lake is groundbreaking, thanks to the vision of WB artistic director Septime Webre. It's entirely possible that such a pairing would have eventually happened on its own—it's encouraging to imagine the future of ballet, where all companies are so racially diverse that it's not headlining news to pair two Black dancers together in principal roles. Of course reality is nowhere near that future, and the Washington Ballet deserves praise for choosing a cast that makes a political as well as an artistic statement.


The Swan Lake run will also be WB's first full-length production of the ballet. Rebooting classics is a major investment for any ballet company, and the Washington Ballet is demonstrating that Copeland and Mack are reliable artists who can deliver on a major technical challenge. Merde to the whole company!

Latest Posts


Complexions Contemporary Ballet's Tatiana Melendez Proves There's No One Way to Have a Ballet Career

This is Pointe's Fall 2020 cover story. Click here to purchase this issue.

Talk to anyone about rising contemporary ballerina Tatiana Melendez, and one word is bound to come up repeatedly: "Fierce." And fair enough, that's a perfectly apt way to describe the 20-year-old's stage presence, her technical prowess and her determination to succeed. But don't make the mistake of assuming that fierceness is Melendez's only (or even her most noteworthy) quality. At the core of her dancing is a beautiful versatility. She's just as much at ease when etching pure classical lines as she is when boldly throwing herself off-balance.

"Selfish choreographer that I am, I want Tatiana to stay with Complexions for all time," says her boss Dwight Rhoden, Complexions Contemporary Ballet's co-artistic director and resident choreographer. "She has a theatricality about her: When the music comes on, she gets swept away." Not too shabby for someone who thought just a few years ago that maybe ballet wasn't for her.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT

2020 Stars of the Corps: American Ballet Theatre's Wanyue Qiao

When the curtain opens on Twyla Tharp's In the Upper Room, there are two women onstage, wearing striped pants and tops, and sneakers. By the end, after almost 40 minutes of high-intensity dancing, they've stripped down to red leotards, their fists lifted victoriously. Wanyue Qiao danced one of these athletic superwomen last year during American Ballet Theatre's spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House. It was her first major role, after three years in the corps, and she couldn't have been more fierce. "To be honest, I had never done this kind of dance before, and I wasn't sure if it was my style," she says. Tharp encouraged her, and helped her to find her warrior side. "She showed not just her strength, coordination and ability, but courage," says ballet master Susan Jones, who assisted Tharp in the staging.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

Butternut Squash Takes Center Stage This Fall—Plus, 2 Easy Recipes

Whether it's cubed and roasted or puréed into a comforting soup, butternut squash takes center stage this fall. The flavorful seasonal favorite is an excellent nutritional choice for dancers. Here's what's packed into one serving:

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks