Ballet

 Harper Watters (The Houston Ballet) dancing
photo courtesy of Nu Arts Productions

Saturday morning dance classes around the country are filled with little girls dreaming of becoming the next Misty Copeland. But what happens when a young boy dreams of becoming the next Mikhail Baryshnikov?

Courtesy of Joan Myers Brown

When Joan Myers Brown first started to study ballet in the 1930s, dance schools were segregated and opportunities for professional ballet careers for African-American dancers were nearly nonexistent. Nonetheless, she stuck with her training. 

photo of Lar Lubovitch Dance Company
Chris Roesing

Lar Lubovitch is known in the performing art world as a breakthrough choreographer in modern, ballet and jazz dancing.

One of his most heralded works is called "Concerto 622," which depicted two men in a loving relationship for the first time on the modern dance stage. It gave a face to the AIDS crisis in the mid-80s.

For ballerina Misty Copeland, the role of the Firebird is a personally symbolic one. "It was one of the first really big principal roles I was ever given an opportunity to dance with American Ballet Theatre," she tells NPR's Steve Inskeep. "It was a huge step for the African-American community."

Dancing Through It My Journey In The Ballet Image of Jennifer in Pink Costume against black background
us.penguingroup.com / Penguin

    

In 2010, Jenifer Ringer starred as the sugar plum fairy in the New York City Ballet's performance of The Nutcracker. And when a New York Times dance critic insinuated in a review of the performance that Jenifer was overweight, she responded.  Her recent book Dancing Through It: My Journey in The Ballet talks about how she overcame that criticism and her struggle with health and weight (Penguin/2014).