American Ballet Theatre (ABT) Principal Dancer Misty Copeland is creating a special dance performance aimed at providing funds for professional ballet dancers worldwide to maintain living expenses amidst COVID-19.
Alongside former colleague Joseph Phillips and The Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), with seed funding provided by K Period Media, Copeland will launch the virtual ballet Swans for Relief. According to a press release, 32 ballerinas representing 22 companies from 14 countries will participate in the event. They’ll be performing the variation from The Dying Swan, Le Cyne (The Swan), and will be accompanied by world-renowned cellist Wade Davis.
“Ballet companies are largely dependent on revenue from performances to pay their dancers and fund their operations,” the release explains. “With rehearsals and performances canceled globally, many dancers are unable to depend on paychecks and face the hardship of paying rent and buying food and other necessities.”
In a statement, Copeland explains the importance of art as a unifier during times such as these, which provides “a beautiful escape” in troubling situations.
“Throughout my career, it has been very important for me to bring more attention and awareness to this art form,” she says of ballet. “The theater thrives on people coming together to experience a performance. Because of the coronavirus, the livelihood and careers of dancers are in jeopardy, and this will continue to have massive effects even after we start to re-open our cities.”
In 2015, Copeland became the first black female principal dancer in ABT’s 75-year history. Throughout her career, she has performed numerous iconic roles, such as Firebird, Odette-Odile in Swan Lake, Giselle, Kitri in Don Quixote, and Juliet in Romeo & Juliet. She also made her Broadway debut in 2015 in the show On the Town, and made an appearance in Drake’s music video for his 2018 song “Nice For What.” Outside of the performing arts, Copeland is a best-selling author and philanthropist and a longtime supporter of the Boys & Girls Club of America and MindLeaps, a nonprofit arts education organization headquartered in Rwanda.