No More Excuses: Misty Copeland Calls Out Russian Theatre For Blackface

No More Excuses: Misty Copeland Calls Out Russian Theatre For Blackface

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"I get that this is a VERY sensitive subject in the ballet world. But until we can call people out and make people uncomfortable, change can't happen."

Those were the words Misty Copeland tweeted in response to calling out a Russian theatre for using blackface.

Copeland, the first female African American principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, posted a photo of two young ballerinas with the Bolshoi Theatre, who were set to perform the classic ballet "La Bayadère," a tragic love story set in India.

The only issue - the dancers were posing in blackface.

The theatre does not see it as an issue nor a big deal and has plans to “continue the practice despite the criticism,” according to CNN.

Vladimir Urin, the director of the theatre, told state-run RIA Novosti that it "will not be included in such a discussion" and reiterated that the ballet had been performed in the same way for many years.

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??‍♀️ And this is the reality of the ballet world.... Refer to my last post @rafaelcasal #Repost @masha___mandarinka ・・・ ᒪᗩ ᗷᗩYᗩᗪEᖇE?- Люблю и ненавижу одновременно • • • Это было здорово,ребятки • • • На видео вы можете наблюдать явление безграничного счастья по случаю окончания всей данной экзекуции.(комментатор - @_k_lopatina_ ,тело,лежащее рядом - @_anamalia_ ) (К слову,могу заметить,что мой смех всегда меняется,и от случая к случаю я использую разные октавы.) • • • Thanks for the best time: @_k_lopatina_ @_anamalia_ @zzalesik @_adashio_ @tasiwonn @chchchekmarevamasha ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

A post shared by Misty Copeland (@mistyonpointe) on

“And this is the reality of the ballet world,” Copeland posted on her instagram.

The post did not fair well with some, even criticizing Copeland for making an American issue a Russia one, and for opening up the young dancers to a world of criticism.

"this is so so so wrong and this doesn't make it okay but keep in mind the girls dressed like this should know better but they don't," said one commenter whose words were posted on Copeland's Instagram page. "and have also been forced to dress like this and wear this makeup because of the company. the people in power at the Bolshoi need to learn this is wrong."

"I'm tired of giving the oppressors the benefit of the doubt," Copeland wrote on Instagram in response. "They need to be exposed, called out, educated and more. I have lived in the ballet world for 25 years. I have silenced myself around 'them,' and made them feel comfortable and suffered in silence. At 37 I feel ready and free to stop."

"This is post going send people to a child's page," said another commenter. "Not only is she a child, she is a Russian child. People can be brutal online and a child shouldn't be subject to an onslaught of hostile comments. Sure, that makeup looks ridiculous, but....what is the percentage of Africans living in Russia and of that number, what percentage would be ballet dancers?"

Copeland wrote in reply, "We can't continue to make excuses for those who choose to not see what is in plain sight and that is the truth and reality of so many brown children being shot daily, and viewed as adults. I don't condone bullying but lessons need to be had."

Copeland, who herself has experienced a fair share of mistreatment in the ballet world, mentions, "At 7 years old being a black girl in their school and they're being told by their teachers 'you don't belong here, your skin is the wrong color, your feet are too flat ... we can't work with your hair.’ It a world that doesn't really celebrate or have women of color,” Copeland says.

Copeland has become a well-known symbol of breaking down barriers in art by being an advocate for diversity both inside and outside of the ballet world.

“There have been so many black women, black dancers that have come before me, that slowly carved out this path for me,” Copeland via WTTW.

By speaking up and offering mentoring programs, Copeland thinks that now is the right moment to confront this issue. “I think that it’s the right time, Copeland said. “I think I’ve had the right support system to be able to have a voice and speak about the lack of diversity on a broader platform than just the ballet world. It was just kind of like the perfect storm.”