fbpx Skip to main content

Live Webcast: The Breakthrough

A Conversation with Misty Copeland, Raven Wilkinson, and Carmen de Lavallade

Originally Aired: Friday, July 17, 2015

Raven Wilkinson, Carmen de Lavallade and Misty Copeland


This season, dance prodigy Misty Copeland broke not one, but two major cultural barriers: she became American Ballet Theatre’s first African-American female principal dancer less than a week after being the first black ballerina to star in ABT’s Swan Lake at the Metropolitan Opera House.

Why is this breakthrough possible now, and what does this civil rights triumph mean for the future of ballet’s performers and its audience? Join us for a conversation with Copeland and dance legends Raven Wilkinson and Carmen de Lavallade, moderated by author Susan Fales-Hill.

Watch a live video webcast of the sold-out show at 7pm.
Join the conversation using #breakthrough

The dancers will discuss what kept them going in the face of rejection, their process for preparing for roles and refining their craft, and how they are mentoring the next generation of dancers who, perhaps long last, can be judged by the quality of their fouettes rather than the color of their skin.

Raven Wilkinson
Misty’s friend and mentor, Wilkinson became the first African-American accepted into the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1955. After six years with the company, five spent as a soloist famous for her Swan Lake pas de trois, Wilkinson left, in part due to the indignities suffered while touring the South. Two years later she joined Dutch National Ballet where she danced for seven years. She worked with New York City Opera until their demise in 2011.

Carmen de Lavallade
De Lavallade began her career with the Lester Horton, the first integrated modern dance company,  went on to an illustrious career as a guest principal with such companies as Alvin Ailey and ABT, an actress, a choreographer, and most recently, as the co-creator and star of “As I Remember It,” a one woman show looking back on her remarkable life in the arts.

Misty Copeland
In 2007, Copeland made history by becoming the third African-American female soloist and the first in two decades at American Ballet Theatre. She is the author of a best-selling memoir titled “Life in Motion,” and an award-winning children’s book “Firebird.”

The Greene Space is funded by you.

Make a monthly donation of $10 or more to support us and all the programs and podcasts you love from WNYC, WQXR, Gothamist and more!