A Ballerina's Tale (2015) Movie Script

Four and...
That's good.
It's coming up.
I think that people think
that sometimes I focus too much
on the fact
that I'm a black dancer.
But that's so much of who I am,
and I think it's so much
a part of my story.
Just making it to this level,
I think,
no matter what race you are
or what gender,
is a huge accomplishment.
I don't think that people
realize what a feat it is
being a black woman.
If they were to, you know,
go back and read
that there's never been
a black principal woman
at the Royal Ballet,
at the Paris Opera Ballet,
at the Kirov Ballet,
in the top companies
in the world,
in New York City Ballet
in New York City...
I don't think people
really understand that.
Hi, Steph.
You okay? You good?
Yeah, I'm okay.
- How you doing?
- I'm good.
- You coming tomorrow?
- Yeah.
- Okay.
- Gonna come and watch everyone.
- You good, though?
- Getting better, yeah.
Taking barre?
I did my own barre today, so...
- Nice to see you.
- You too.
She just got injured.
It sucks.
This is... this is it.
I've been coming here
since I was 16
to these exact studios.
This Paloma Herrera
in the part of Gamzatti
in "La Bayadre,"
and I do this role now,
which is so exciting.
I premiered it two years ago,
and I'll do it again
this Met season.
This is, like, where we have
our rehearsal schedules,
where they put up casting
when it's time.
There's usually, like,
a basic casting book
that's, like, this big book.
It's like the Bible,
and it has, like,
what parts you're learning
and, like, you're understudying,
and so you have to, like,
go back to that
and then think, "Oh,
what part am I understudying?"
And then you have to check,
and it's like,
"All Us and alts."
Like, understudies
and alternates have to come,
and sometimes you're not called.
It's just confusing,
and it took me so many years
to, like, feel comfortable
and not, like, be on edge.
Every morning, I come in early.
I'm usually either...
I'm alone.
No one's here yet.
I move the barre by myself,
which is heavy,
and I put it right here,
and then this is my spot
every morning.
Like, if I take class in here,
this is exactly where I stand,
'cause then I can see myself
in that mirror from the front
and I can see myself
in that mirror from the side,
which is nice to be able to,
like, see all angles of yourself
when you're working
at the barre,
to see, you know,
if my leg is in front of me
or if my leg is behind me.
I can see all of that
from the side,
make sure that
everything is, like,
exactly the way
that it needs to be.
So I'm a crazy perfectionist.
So this is my spot.
And sometimes, like,
someone will get here first,
and then they take your spot,
and you're like,
"Ugh, I have to stand
behind them today."
Every great ballet dancer,
male or female,
at one point ends up
dancing at AB or at least desires
to dance at ABT.
It was founded in the belief
that we could emulate
Russia and France
in terms of having
a world-class ballet company.
They perform at the
Metropolitan Opera House,
which is considered, bar none,
the most important stage
in the world.
I was definitely,
for the majority
of my childhood,
in underprivileged communities
and struggling
in terms of money.
I was one of six kids.
I was very shy
and definitely was
the one in the family that
blended in with the background,
'cause everyone was fighting
for attention in some way.
I was introduced
to ballet at 13,
and it was just
this instant connection.
I felt that I could
really say something.
I felt like I belonged
and that I had a voice.
I started to develop ways
of critically thinking
about things,
which I'd never
had to do before.
I had to make decisions
on how I was going
to approach a step
or using parts
of my brain and my body
that I hadn't used before.
The competition
is Misty Danielle Copeland.
I got all my fouetts in.
I'm really happy.
Kevin McKenzie approaches me
and says,
"Well, you're gonna join
the studio company,
but before your contract starts,
we would like for you
to come on tour
with the main company
for two weeks in China.
And that was just, like,
"Oh, my God."
Like, "It's happening."
It's like seeing
the turning point in a movie,
and it's happening to me
right now.
On that trip to China,
I think it was in New York,
like, right before we left,
that I met Leyla,
my best friend.
So right away, we clicked,
and we got along,
and we were rooming together,
and we became
the best of friends.
We just did everything together,
and we kind of had,
like, this camaraderie.
We would take trips
to Red Lobster in Brooklyn,
'cause at the time, they didn't
have one in Times Square.
We would get on the train
and travel
to go to some Red Lobster,
and sometimes,
if Red Lobster was closed,
we'd go to Sizzler
that was, like, next door.
We... I don't know
what it was,
but, like, we...
We loved it.
And then when that Red Lobster
opened up in Times Square,
we were like, "Yes!"
When you're in your adolescence
and you're dancing,
you don't get to experience
what normal kids
get to experience.
You don't date.
You don't go to parties.
You don't...
you don't hang out.
As soon as school is over,
you're going
straight to practice
and to dance class.
That was around the time
that I first was being told
to lose weight by ABT,
and I had no idea
how to handle that.
I mean, I never had
to watch what I ate.
Like, I had no idea
how to take care of my body.
It was just naturally
the way it was,
and it worked for ballet
until I hit puberty,
and then it all changed.
The skinny ideal that
a lot of contemporary audiences
associate with ballet today
is strictly a modern phenomenon,
and it can actually
be dated to 1963,
when George Balanchine
was able to start creating
the ballet and the ballerina
according to a vision he had,
an ideal vision he had,
of a dancer.
Post Balanchine, you get
these very emaciated body types,
and you get no longer
a woman on the stage.
You get these
prepubescent girls...
you know, encouraged not to eat
to the point of not being able
to menstruate...
and, you know,
that has created a huge,
I think, problem in ballet.
It literally
has killed ballerinas
and actually doesn't need
to exist at all.
It all kind of hit me at once:
moving to New York,
realizing I was the only
African-American woman
in a company of 80 dancers.
I felt like I was
sinking for a while.
I felt alone in a world
that had become my home,
and it gave me mixed feelings.
I was coming home at night
and just feeling
so bad about myself,
and I would call Krispy Kreme,
and they told me
they only delivered to...
to, like, big corporations,
so I was like,
"Okay, yeah, I'm a corporation.
Can I have
two dozen doughnuts?"
And they'd drop them off,
and I would eat
a dozen doughnuts
in one sitting.
I was overeating because I felt
so bad about myself.
I just started this pattern of,
like, feeling so ashamed
that I didn't even want to come
to class in the morning.
I didn't want to stare
at myself in the mirror.
I first became aware
of Misty Copeland
when she joined the company,
the corps,
and I would see her
in performances,
and she always stood out.
She had what you can't teach
and you can't learn.
She had stage presence,
and she had a fire
that the other corps-ians
did not.
Kevin McKenzie,
the artistic director of ABT,
had said to me
from the very beginning
when I first mentioned
how much I admired Misty
that he felt she had
the talent to go the distance
and to go all the way.
The executive director
said to me,
"But there's an issue.
"We feel that she has
all this promise,
"but she lacks a bit of focus.
"And everybody adores her,
but she is doing some things
that stand in her own way."
They did something
which is, they said to me,
"Would you please
take her under your wing?
"We would like you
to spend time with her.
"We would like you
to become her confidante...
"or her consigliere, rather,
"because we feel she's got
everything that it takes,
"and she just needs that
older woman who can help her."
I began introducing her
to women I knew
who had been the first...
whether it was Diahann Carroll
or Veronica Webb,
who was the first black model
to have her own
cosmetics contract...
women who had blazed trails,
to help her understand
that she had the same potential,
to give her a kind
of kitchen cabinet of women
who could help her
face these hurdles,
because as much as she was
beloved in the company
and she was everybody's Misty,
she felt very alone,
and she felt
a lot of self-doubt.
And as we began this process
and we were having
all our discussions
at ABT about diversity,
one of the things
I had said was,
"It's only a matter of time
"before a very ugly article
hits the papers
"about the lack of diversity
in ballet,
"because it's going
to be noticed,
"and we're in
the new millennium.
"We're not in 1952,
and we still look like
the Alabama country club
in 1952."
Sure enough, in the spring,
an article was done, saying,
"Where are
the black ballerinas?"
And it was the front page
of the Arts & Leisure section.
New York City Ballet
was lambasted,
and we were lambasted,
and Misty called me crying.
She was crying,
and she was saying,
"I look at this, and I think,
'"Why am I even bothering?
'"Why am I doing what I'm doing?
There's no hope."'
I can tell you that I have
been writing about this idea
of the color of ballet
since at least the late '80s.
In fact, I have
a story from 1990
I just kind of
refreshed myself with,
just to see what has changed,
what has stayed the same.
And I would say
that unfortunately,
a lot has stayed the same.
It is still a ballet blanc,
so to speak, you know?
It's very difficult
to see people of color
adopt major roles
in the classical repertoire.
And tomb pas de bourre
with arms,
and up, relev, piqu through.
The color of the skin
is obviously
a very important aspect
that is kind of taboo.
It's about casting.
Can you be soft and lovely,
or do you have to be...
Strong and sexy?
You would make a black dancer
just that sexual,
you know, vivacious dancer,
but there's also
other roles that
you growing up as a little girl
watching "Giselle"
or watching these
more ethereal ballerinas,
which you can do,
but the color of your skin,
they tend to not let you
do those ballets.
And pli.
Don't change and change.
One, two, three, fifth.
Chass through.
That's it.
Classical ballet is all
based on these
fairy-tale stories
many... in many times.
And so if you don't see
a black dancer
or a more stocky dancer
as someone
who looks like a fairy,
then you're not going
to be casted in that role,
which is like,
"Well, who defines
what a fairly looks like?
Isn't it a mythical creature?"
I wouldn't go in the sun
when I was little.
I... when I was dancing, I was,
"No sun.
"You can't get...
you can't get any sun,
'cause you have to be
as pale as possible."
Like, that was...
that paleness is so...
was such a big thing.
The aesthetic of the body
is so important in ballet,
and there's... you know,
I think George Balanchine...
and forgive me if I'm,
you know, not...
I'm not gonna quote him,
but I believe George Balanchine
said something to the effect of,
"You know, the skin of a dancer
should be that
of a freshly peeled apple,"
and I'm not that.
I turn more into, you know...
I'm the shade of a chestnut
come summertime.
So we got to figure this out.
Every dancer that goes
through the process
the way I did,
through the school,
through the company,
you audition,
you're a snowflake
for "Nutcracker,"
and you...
you're selected
after you do a season
of "Nutcracker,"
and then you get
into the company.
In my case,
that was not the case.
I saw my friends...
It was like my car was going
five miles an hour
and everyone else was going,
you know, 75.
And I saw my friends
just getting into...
into the company, you know?
They were all snowflakes,
and I was sitting
on the sidelines melting...
my spirit melting,
my esteem melting.
I had done all this hard work,
and why wasn't I a snowflake?
I look upon ballet
the way I look upon
the symphony orchestra.
They are some
of the last bastions
of white supremacy.
And what's interesting is,
if you would talk
to these artistic directors
of these ballet companies
or the conductors of the...
they... they don't know.
That's the problem.
They don't realize that they are
at the service of...
they are the lackeys of racism.
I feel like a lot of the time,
what I'm being judged on
is my aesthetic,
and it may not be said,
but I feel like I just...
a lot of the time, I don't think
that the classical ballet world
will ever accept me
because I'm something different.
What you're
looking for in ballet
is assimilation
and uniformity, okay?
Even for a soloist
who's doing a solo,
I mean, it's kind of
still in this uniform.
It's not...
I hate to say it,
but I don't feel like ballet,
even with
the best of choreography,
is so much about
individual creativity
or showing the individual.
That's an issue
for black ballerinas
in terms of, like,
fitting into the mold,
you know, fitting into the box.
I think that people
do make judgment
based on, maybe,
something they're not even
consciously aware of,
and it may be
the fact that I'm black.
It may be the fact
that I have a large chest.
It may be the fact
that I'm muscular.
They're reaching for change
in the classical ballet world
because they think
the art form is dying,
but if there isn't change,
how can it continue and grow?
I think there has
to be change happening.
Just over the course
of a couple of years,
there began to be a change.
Kevin McKenzie said to me,
"She's carrying herself
She is never late."
A focus happened.
When she realized
that she could represent
something even bigger,
not just a talented dancer
who happened to be
but a talented dancer who...
you can be like this too.
Like, it's okay
for you to do ballet.
It can be cool.
Your body type
isn't going to hold you back.
You can still become
this beautiful dancer.
I think when she realized
that she had
that opportunity to do that,
it became less
about just herself
and more about what she can do
to change the world.
There's a private moment
that's my favorite moment,
which is the day
she called me to say
that she had been promoted,
and we were both
just crying on the phone,
because there it was.
When she first called me
and told me,
"Oh, my God,
I'm gonna be the Firebird,"
now, again,
I'm not the ballet expert,
so I don't know
what "The Firebird" is.
So Raven Wilkinson,
who I'm sure she's told you,
the legendary ballerina...
I called Raven,
because Raven's
my history monitor,
and I said, "Do you know
if a black woman
has ever performed 'Firebird'...
the Firebird?"
And she said, "Well, yeah,
Dance Theatre of Harlem."
I said, "No, no,
at one of the majors,
like City Ballet,
American Ballet Theatre?"
And she said, "No."
I said, "Well, guess what.
"You got to buy a ticket
when they go on sale,
because Misty is gonna
be the Firebird,"
and she said, "Which one?"
She said, "Which one?"
And I said,
"No, the Firebird."
She said, the Firebird?"
"Yes, the... like,
the main... like, yes."
"The Firebird" is one
of the modern masterpieces,
both from the music standpoint
and the choreographic
and it was being reset
by Alexei Ratmansky,
who's widely hailed
as the sort of Balanchine,
the great choreographer,
the great ballet innovator,
the man who is going to save
ballet from obsolescence.
And he adores Misty.
I spent, like, I think
it was two weeks in this studio
just having "Firebird"
created on me,
which is really cool.
Alexei came in with an idea,
but he allowed us to be
a part of the creative process,
so if he saw that, you know,
I was attempting to do something
that looked more natural
to fall out of it a certain way,
then he would keep it.
And he allowed
the three of us Firebirds
to have our own versions
so that it suited our bodies
and abilities best.
In a company of 80 dancers
where you've got
a lot of stars...
and he could have
picked anyone...
for him to pick someone
who's not a prima ballerina
but a soloist
and then to pick
someone black...
a ballet of this magnitude,
if we look
in the annals of ballet
going back to Louis xlv,
it's never happened before.
It is... it's monumental.
The entire dance world was agog,
and certainly
every person of color
involved in the dance world
was standing up and cheering,
because we'd been
waiting for this moment.
Susan Fales-Hill
put together
this really great
group of women.
She had called me and said,
"Tracey, I want you
to experience
a really magical evening."
I invited Debra Lee,
the head of BET.
I invited Marva Smalls,
who's at MTV, Vacom.
Star Jones was there.
There was just a myriad
of incredibly accomplished
black women in the room...
in the box, actually,
and we were all there
sharing in the triumph
of Misty dancing.
The makeup of the crowd
was completely different
than you would see on any other
given day at the Met,
and the power of one person
to change the...
the crowd who comes
to see dance,
I think that was really special.
For a black woman to be the face
of American Ballet Theatre's
spring season
at the Metropolitan Opera House,
we knew that
something was happening.
My manager, Gilda,
was waiting for me outside,
and I walked out,
and I looked up,
and I saw that the whole
front of the Met
was covered in this woman
with her breasts out
and arched back,
and I was like, "Oh, my gosh.
That's a curvy black woman
on the front of the Met,
and it's me."
And I just... we both cried,
because it meant so much
for the African-American
to feel welcome in that space.
When she entered the stage,
and it just seemed
like collectively,
we all kind of leaned forward,
and it was just the sense
of pride and joy
to just see
this talented, strong,
graceful, amazing woman
grace the stage.
She came out to give
her bows at the end.
It was quite amazing.
There were people in the crowd
who were actually crying.
There was an emotional
connection to her
and to the fact that this was
an historic performance.
To sit in that theater
that night,
surrounded by African-American
women of accomplishment,
watching a ballerina
take center stage
in one of the most
important works
just felt like her life
had come full circle.
Afterwards, they had a sort of
a meet and greet
set up on the stage.
They had tables set up.
I said to Misty, "Wow,
you know, I was knocked out.
"This is amazing.
You know, she had
a beautiful outfit on,
she had some high heels on,
and she looked perfectly fine,
and she said to me,
"I'm in a lot of pain, Nelson."
And I was like,
"Whoa, you would never
have known that
by watching her,"
but it turned out
that she'd been dancing
with severe fractures
in her shin.
That night,
I came into the theater,
and I was in so much pain,
I didn't know how
I was gonna get onstage.
I knew it was there,
but I kind of pushed it
to the side,
because I knew how vital
that season was for me.
The opportunity to do
principal roles as a soloist
I didn't think was something
that would come again.
Knowing how much
of the black community
was coming to the Met,
maybe for the first time,
to support me, I understood
that I had to make it work.
I knew that that night
stood for something
so much bigger than me
and beyond
what I can even imagine,
so I knew
that no matter what I did
on the stage that night,
it was going to be
a historical evening.
I think a dancer's
pain tolerance
is on another level that I...
I have no idea
if it can be compared
to anyone or anything.
When you're onstage
and you're standing on one leg
for, you know,
five, ten minutes at a time
and you're supposed
to look like a beautiful swan
and you have sweat
dripping in your eye
and your butt's cramping
and your feet are cramping
and then all of a sudden,
you have to get up
and start jumping and moving,
that pain is something
that every dancer deals with,
and no one really
talks about it.
Pointe shoes are uncomfortable.
They hurt.
Your feet, when you first
learn how to dance en point,
are going to bleed,
sometimes through your shoes.
That's unusual.
Why do we do that?
As soon as dance
becomes more athletic,
which it has definitely become
in the 21st century,
the body is just beaten up
way too much.
Even a great dancer
like Mikhail Baryshnikov,
I mean, he blew
his knees out from...
like, if you jump high,
you land hard.
Here she is
dealing with still pain,
trying to figure out,
"How am I going
to deal with this?
"But, oh, yeah,
I'm 29 years old,
and I'm dealing
with the end of my career."
She ended up going to a doctor
who works with top athletes
at the New York Hospital
for Special Surgery.
He was the only person
who was confident that this...
that you will dance again.
Everyone else was telling her,
"Your career is over."
So your diagnosis
is a mid-tibia stress fracture,
which occurs very commonly
in jumping athletes.
So the tibia bone...
which is, on her,
the mid-shaft leg bone...
it takes all the stress.
Instead of breaking in half,
it gets a tiny little break
in the cortex surface,
or the outer surface,
of the bone.
They're very slow healing,
so she spent months trying
to get this to heal beforehand,
and then we made a decision
about how to treat it.
We... our one decision
was take a... put a rod.
One option was to take...
go near her knee
and put a rod from here
all the way down
the bone in her leg
inside the bone.
The nice thing about that
is that it takes care
of the whole thing.
The disadvantage is,
about 20% of people
have some knee pain,
and she's a jumper,
so you try not
to mess with her knee at all.
We made an incision
right here in the front,
and in that incision,
we found the little
stress fractures,
we drilled across them
with a needle
to stimulate some bleeding,
we packed the bone marrow
cells in there,
and then we put the plate.
When I heard the words
"black dreaded line fracture,"
that sounds like death to me.
Like, hearing that word,
it was like,
"What does that mean?"
It was scary.
And then finding out
that it meant
almost a complete break
through my bone...
it's hard to fathom that
that can happen from dancing,
but it was just impact
over and over and over again,
probably through
the course of a year,
that caused it.
Had I continued to dance
for who knows how much longer,
my bone could have
completely snapped in half.
The rest of the ballet world,
including, I think, her company,
once they realized, you know,
the extent of her injuries,
I don't think anyone
truly expected her
to be able
to come back from that.
You know, you combine
the extent of the injury
with her age,
the amount of wear and tear
on the body,
I think that they
just sort of said,
"One plus one plus one
equals three,
"and you're not coming back,
"and if you do come back,
you won't be able to come back
and be... you won't be able
to pick up where you left off."
In a company like ABT,
the talent is endless.
The second you step out
for, you know,
the length of time an injury
may take to recover from,
you lose that
window of opportunity,
and you may never be given
the opportunity again.
But there was a lot of time
spent just, like,
overanalyzing all of that.
Like, "What am I gonna do?"
I felt like I was gonna
let down so many people
who were, like, watching me.
Like, you're creating this path,
and then it was like,
"Okay, that's the end of it."
It's been, like, seven months
since I've been working
with Marjorie
on floor barre.
I still have a lot to learn.
Want to try it
on the other side?
If you stand at the barre
the way we always do
and will continue to do,
you can work your right side
and your left side
differently for a lifetime
or until something breaks.
That's true.
That's the way it goes.
Try not to sit
in the standing hip.
As dancers, we know
one leg goes up higher,
one leg jumps better,
and the other leg
balances better.
Whatever that is,
we need to become
as symmetrical as possible.
Want to start again?
Don't bring it up
from your quad.
Really lengthen
through the inner thigh.
So I was working with Marjorie
maybe two months
before I decided
to have the surgery.
And then Marjorie
was there with me,
I think, two weeks
after my surgery
in my apartment,
helping me, you know...
I was not walking still,
and we were laying on the floor,
and she was working with me
until I literally
couldn't anymore.
I was just, like, exhausted.
She's kind of
been there with me,
literally retraining my body
in the middle
of my professional career.
- Middy.
- Michele!
- Hey.
- Oh, my God.
I had no idea
it started at 1:00.
- I'm here.
- Oh, my gosh, sorry.
No, it's not your... honey,
you have enough to worry about.
Did I... I thought we said...
You have a company to run
and some roles to dance.
- Hi.
- How are you?
I'm good.
How are you doing?
Yeah, me too.
I remember being
in class with Michele,
like, sitting on the floor
of Marjorie's apartment,
and I was contemplating, like,
when I was gonna go back to ABT.
They were really, like,
nudging me, like,
"You need to come now,"
and I was like,
"I'm not ready;
I'm not ready."
Michele Wiles started BalletNext
with Charles Askegard,
was a principal dancer
with American Ballet Theatre,
and she was a good friend
of mine.
And Michele said,
"Why don't you do
a performance with us first,
and maybe you'll feel
more comfortable and secure?"
And I was like, "Oh, my gosh.
I don't know."
She's like,
"Why don't you do something
"that's more simple, you know,
doesn't take a lot,
there's no jumping,"
and, "Why don't you do
'The Dying Swan'?"
And I was like,
"That's brilliant,
but I'm terrified."
- There's the superstar.
- Are you done here?
- Merde, yes.
- Okay.
- Have fun, okay?
- Thank you.
Well, what did you think, Coach?
It was okay.
I didn't fall.
It just wasn't, like,
what I'm used to.
I didn't use the space
like I should have,
but no stumbling,
so it was okay.
People liked it.
- It was beautiful.
- Thank you.
Hopefully tomorrow
I'll feel better.
That was rough.
First time... first time
in the game in a while.
First time in a year.
I'm glad that's over.
I am.
I know...
- I know you!
- Hey.
- I've been listening.
- You hot, beautiful girl.
Everyone gets confused
and gets off
on the second floor...
- I did.
- Because it's 29.
I know; every single one
of my girlfriends do.
Oh, I'm so glad
I'm not the only dummy.
No, it's not dumb at all.
I'm Nelson.
- I met you at the...
- Yeah, I know.
- I remember.
- Good to see you again.
Good to see you again.
We were tooling around
on the stage...
Absolutely, absolutely.
It was beautiful.
Trying to find
our way in and out.
- Good.
- Bless her heart.
I'm worried about her, you know.
She doesn't worry
about anything.
How... you were gonna
do everything today.
Look at you,
how beautiful you look.
I did the show last night,
and then...
- Oh, you did?
- Yeah.
'Cause I didn't know
whether it was tonight.
It's tonight as well.
- Oh!
- Yeah.
And I thought to myself,
"How's she doing?"
Did you take class?
Yeah, I already took
class this morning.
I knew that would be.
I don't know how she does it.
You know, in my...
in my youth youth,
I didn't have
the energy she has.
You're so sweet.
Isn't this nice?
Hello, ladies!
This is Raven, everyone.
I'm Raven.
- How is everything?
- I'll take your umbrella.
Look at how...
how was class?
It was fine.
- I took Dameon Howard.
- Oh, you did?
- Yeah, he's doing well.
- But I mean, the other day.
- Um... oh, with the company?
- Yeah.
It was fine.
I'm gonna take company class
again Saturday...
- Yeah.
- So we'll see.
How... did you... could you
get through it all,
or you stopped a little?
- Well, I'm not jumping.
- Yeah.
I'm not doing grand allegro,
so I did part of it,
but my meeting was,
like, halfway through,
so I had to leave early.
Yeah, and how... oh, good,
you had a good excuse.
- I had a good excuse to be...
- How was that?
- It was fine.
- I'll just put this here.
It was kind of pointless
to meet with them
because I'll have
more information
after my doctor's
appointment today.
- That is so beautiful.
- It's pretty swollen.
I bumped into my bed,
and mine looks worse than that.
No, that's gorgeous.
- But yeah, I mean...
- What work did he do?
'Cause you haven't seen me
since the surgery, right?
- No, no.
- Yeah, so that...
And I never saw anything before.
I had no idea
you had this problem.
Well, you...
you couldn't tell.
No, she dances so beautifully.
- It's doing very well.
- Yeah.
- The scar looks straight.
- Lookit, she's so strong.
Look at the ankles and the feet.
I'm getting there.
- Well, he did a marvelous job.
- He really did.
You know, medicine
and a good doctor is an artist.
Yeah, that's true.
He was most concerned
with the scar
more than anything else.
I was concerned
'cause you can wear...
- My high heels?
- No one wants her...
Oh, what were you gonna say?
- No.
- Oh, tights?
- No, you can cover up.
- Right.
You know, I know
you don't really want to,
but I was much more concerned
about what was going on inside.
- So am I.
- Yeah, but it's...
- So we'll see.
- Yeah, look at you, though.
- Still a bit sensitive, though.
- You're flexing here.
I've been thinking about
the very first time
that I found out who you were,
which to me is
really crazy that it was
far into my career
as a professional already,
and I saw the film
"The Ballet Russe."
- A lot of books...
- There wasn't that much said...
Because when I came along,
the less said was the better,
you know?
Yeah, yeah.
I mean, I just went
as I was and who I was,
but people,
they thought it wasn't nice
to talk about race
or I might be insulted.
I mean, I...
yeah, I think...
So a lot of it wasn't like...
now we have this time span,
and now people
are very interested,
and people don't talk about it
and especially
younger people, you know.
I mean, I think it's important
to be able to discuss it,
because then it forces people
to kind of confront the issues.
But yes, the first time
I saw you
was in "The Ballet Russe" film,
and I cried my eyes out
because I didn't even know
that a black ballerina
of your level existed,
and so that was kind of
the start
of this mission I had, you know,
to learn more
about black ballerinas,
to try and educate other people
about who you are,
who Janet Collins is,
and so that's kind of
how this all got started.
You know...
You know, when you
start out looking.
Yes, in the pose.
And that's your pose,
and then we were
doing the cygnets.
- Oh, right.
- Yes.
We did the same...
we did the same part,
so it's hard for us to both...
Well, I think I've done it
in other positions.
Yeah, you kind of...
you just...
You kind of have to be ready
to jump into any of the slots.
You... I had
to go into it...
But we both...
and you're used to doing
the quick...
the quick head switching.
Oh, yes, did you do that?
And there's different versions.
- Yeah.
- And...
Oh, my goodness.
And then go.
Then you take off like...
Oh, wow.
Yeah, and then the embots.
- Going back to the corner.
- Yeah.
- Did you do the embots?
- Oh, right!
That's it.
And then the pas de chats,
and you just...
Right, and that...
Did you look forward,
or did you look over
when you did the pas de chats?
- No, I think we looked left.
- Yes, over.
- Yeah.
- I mean your right.
- Right.
- When you're going right.
Over the direction you're going.
And then comes the pause
and then a fouett.
And then the passs at the end.
Pass, pass, pass.
Oh, God, yes.
- Did you do the heads that way?
- Yes, yup.
- And then all of a sudden...
- And then you let go.
Barump, barump on the knee.
Let's see,
and how did the hands go?
We went... we went this way
and then this way to finish.
- That's it, yeah.
- Is that how you did it?
- Same old, same old.
- Never changes.
Well, little things
here and there.
Those little swans,
we don't want to lose them
in the lake, so...
But, oh, just...
It's incredible that you still
remember all those
little details.
Yeah, isn't it?
And I mean,
when you hear the music...
It just comes back.
- It's in your body.
- Yeah.
Do you have a needle?
Oh, no, I got it.
It was hiding.
I got it.
Thank you.
90 degrees, fifth.
Ronde de jambe.
And one, two, three.
- How are you?
- Just fine, and you?
I think I... I could have
pulled something,
but I had a back spasm.
- When, yesterday?
- The first day in Rome.
- First day in Rome.
- First day?
It started, yeah.
I just...
During the performance
or the rehearsal?
No, getting into the van.
- Getting into the van?
- Yeah.
Oh, come on.
That's when they happen.
When did it happen?
Two days ago.
So last night was the worst.
I couldn't breathe.
It feels, also, like my
sacrum or something is stuck.
No, no.
Okay, now on your side
and face the wall.
Yeah, towards him
on your right side.
Do you have pain?
- Yes.
- S.
It cracked.
- Pain?
- Yes.
- Pain?
- Yes, same place.
Yes, yes.
I think.
So tightest.
Except for these two
ladies right here.
- Thank you.
- I know that's what he meant.
Well, no, if she's with you,
that's fine.
I'm not worried about that.
Oh, that was your daughter?
No, you can stay here, then.
I'm sorry.
I didn't know
that was your daughter.
- Are they with you?
- Yeah.
Okay, no, if they're
with you, that's fine.
I didn't know
it was your daughter.
Misty, Misty, do me a favor.
I'm gonna have them
just move back.
Just move back.
Just move back a little bit.
Thank you.
- Hello.
- Hi.
- Brilliant performance.
- Thank you.
Thank you very much.
This is for
my daughter, Allison.
She took a picture with you
when she was four.
- Oh, my God.
- And that's on the other side.
I have to see this.
- That's you and her.
- Oh, my God!
14 years ago,
and she's always
wanted to meet you,
and here she is right here.
Oh, my God.
How old am I?
Can take a pic...
I think you're 12, 14.
I remember telling her
not too long ago,
with everything
that's happening...
the book deals,
the Under Armour endorsement,
you know, the Coach deal,
just everything that's going on,
the Diet Dr Pepper,
the speaking engagements...
you know,
"I... I understand
"that principal
is what you're aiming for,
"but what I think
you've built...
"what I think we've built...
"is so much bigger than that,
"that, you know, what we have
is not something
"that ABT or anyone else
can take away from you.
"And whereas before,
you felt very alone,
"you've got the world
on your side,
"so for all
intents and purposes,
"you've won.
You've won,
whether you become"...
because in people's minds,
she is a principal.
She is the star.
I cannot tell you
how many black men I know who...
I think they'd rather
go to Iraq,
have a relationship
or have root canal
than go see a ballet.
But suddenly, they saw
an interview with Misty,
and they're like,
"You know, aren't you
"involved with ABT?
Can I come
see a performance?"
They're following her career.
They email me things about her.
That's sort of
the hormonal contingent.
When she gets people
in the theater,
people are actually
moved by the art form
and realize this isn't a bunch
of boring people in tutus.
It's exciting.
It's raw.
It's sexy.
It's alive.
It's about
the stuff of human life.
I need some time, please
My battery has died
I need to plug in
Just be electrified
I need to reboot
Or I am bound to crack
Don't know how long
my backup disk would last
Her ultimate goal
is to bring people
of all backgrounds to ballet,
people who never saw themselves
sitting inside
the Metropolitan Opera House,
making them feel welcome.
- Hello.
- She told me it's next Sunday.
It's good to see you.
I got scared
when I came around the corner.
- What?
- Ah!
You really hadn't been?
No, I haven't been yet.
I've just seen photos.
Oh, my God.
And you can read
your name from it too.
I was like this,
I thought I'd missed
something drastic.
- How are you?
- How are you?
Don't do anything crazy.
- Good to see you.
- Hi!
Oh, my God.
Are you ready for this?
This is amazing.
We were just
talking about you too.
We were just like...
And I'm like,
"Hold on."
And she's like,
"Do I talk to her?"
I was like, "I literally see her
everywhere on Facebook."
Like, everyone is like,
"Wow, look at this."
Just see 'em work, girl.
See 'em work.
- It was nice to meet you.
- Thank you so much.
- Yeah, same here, same here.
- Congratulations.
You're larger than life.
Now you literally are
larger than life.
We're all so proud of you,
and you will what you want.
- Cheers.
- I will what I want.
Go, Misty.
Thank you guys for coming down.
Thank you.
This is what athletes do.
I didn't change
my shoes this time.
We will talk about...
I did exactly
what you told me not to do.
- We will talk.
- Okay.
You're doing very hard
for yourself.
You do it like this and then try
to stay on the pointe
and go there.
Don't finish over there,
and then we will come.
It's a major coup, I think,
that ABT has recently cast Misty
to play Odette/Odile
in "Swan Lake,"
one of the most iconic ballets
in the classical repertoire.
People think ballet,
they think "Swan Lake,"
but they don't usually
think of a black white swan.