In March, American Ballet Theater performed the famous ballet Swan Lake. During this performance, Misty Copeland was supposed to perform 32 fouetté turns (for non-dancers: a fouetté turn is a turn in which the leg continuously reaches out, then the foot comes back to the knee. While performing this turn, the standing leg is rolling through the pointe shoe.) Being able to perform 32 fouetté turns in a row is quite an accomplishment, yet Misty Copeland was only able to execute 9 turns before she landed, then improvised to make up for the counts she had left in the music.
After a video of this performance was published, Misty Copeland owned up to her mistake. Rude comments were sent her way, some called it an "embarrassment." Many questioned her credibility for being a principal dancer with America's greatest ballet companies. Many expected Copeland to execute these turns perfectly due to the reputation she has as one of the greatest ballerinas of our time.
Recently, it came to my mind that this mishap on stage really proved what dance is all about. Dancers could be practicing this sport for several years, and they will still never be perfect. Dancers are always learning. This is the beauty of our sport. Dance is beautiful because we are always learning something new, whether it is about our bodies or learning how to maneuver our bodies differently in order to do something correctly. Even dancers who may seem to be perfect and know every last detail about the technique, such as Misty Copeland, are still learning every single day.
Not only does this mistake show that us dancers are constantly learning, it also shows the pressure we are put under when we perform. I will say that Copeland recovered from her mistake so well. Even though she altered famous choreography, she improvised and beautifully turned around the stage for the rest of the music. This is a skill that many dancers lack, and many scare away from improvisation classes to improve upon this skill.
When something goes wrong in choreography, dancers should be able to quickly improvise and work with other dancers on stage to convince the audience that nothing is going wrong. My dance teacher always tells me, if something goes wrong on stage, never show it in your face. The audience does not know the choreography, so if you show that you don't know it, why should the audience watch you?
Lastly, the best part of this mistake is the fact that Misty Copeland owned up to it. She shared the YouTube link of this performance on her social media pages for all to watch. The dancer promoted herself online after being told that she did not deserve to be a principal dancer. That is professionalism. As a dancer, you will face criticism, and you will mess up many times; however, the way you handle these things comes to show who you are as a dancer. Next time you mess up or receive a correction, own up to it and find a way to better yourself. You can only learn from your mistakes.
Misty Copeland is truly a professional. After sharing her mistake and improvisation on stage with millions of followers, she showed what dance is all about.