Misty Copeland is launching a program for kids of color to encourage more diversity in ballet, reports NPR.
The Be Bold initiative will "make ballet more accessible, affordable and fun," as stated on the program's website. The 12-week curriculum will be held at the Boys & Girls Clubs in New York City for 120 children from ages 8-10. Additionally, the program will provide lessons on the basics of ballet, music, and health as well as offer mentoring and tutoring services.
As the first Black woman to be named principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater company, Copeland says that she owes a part of her enormous success to a free ballet class she enrolled in at the local Boys & Girls Club.
Copeland has not been shy about sharing the racism she experienced in her remarkable career. She publicly spoke out against dance critics who attempted to body shame her for being too "bulky" or "busty."
"I think it's just something maybe that I will never escape from," Copeland said in an interview. "But my mission, my voice, my story, my message, is not for them. And I think it's more important to think of the people that I am influencing and helping to see a broader picture of what beauty is."
In addition to being one of the most renowned ballet dancers in the world, Copeland is also a New York Times best-selling author. Some of her titles include Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, Ballerina Body: Dancing and Eating Your Way to a Leaner, Stronger, and More Graceful You, and the forthcoming The Wind at My Back: Resilience, Grace, and Other Gifts from My Mentor, Raven Wilkinson.
After taking a break from performing in 2019, Copeland is planning to return to the stage next year.