Culver City Observer -

An Inspiring Story About Dancing


March 31, 2016

In a time where racial tension is high and politicians are feeding into the division of our country

there is dance-a wonderful escape to a classically celebrated art.

To be in the presence of an internationally recognized choreographer and dancer, as well as the first African American Principle Dancer of the American Ballet Theater was not only an honor, it was awe-inspiring.

If the name Debbie Allen hasn’t been heard in your household, either for her lead role as a dance

instructor on “Fame”, her live performances, or knowing someone who was fortunate enough to

have been mentored by her, let me introduce you.

Ms. Debbie Allen is an actress, dancer, choreographer, television producer, television director, and a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Ms. Allen, a mentor to children of all ages, helps her students find their passion and flourish. One of her annual performances, the “Hot Chocolate Nut Cracker”, is Debbie Allen’s lively spin on a classic holiday tale that incorporates ballet, hip hop, African dance, Latin dance, acrobatics, silks, music and magic.

This year I was privileged enough to attend, where I thoroughly enjoyed the varied performances.

As the cosmos would have it, Misty Copeland’s first professional dance performance would be

in Debbie Allen’s “Hot Chocolate Nut Cracker”.

Inspired by Nadia Comaneci, she decided at the age of 13 she wanted to dance. Thirteen is

typically on the older side of taking up Ballet, but within three months she was on point –literally

and figuratively. Early on, she was privileged enough to work with Ms. Allen. Since her debut in

the “Hot Chocolate Nut Cracker”, she has worked hard, performed, persevered and catapulted to

the top, most notably being named Principal Dancer of the American Ballet Theatre, in addition

to penning Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina.

At “An Afternoon with Misty Copeland”, both women were extremely humble in sharing their

experiences in Dance Theatre and Misty’s life story. From billowing laughs about favorite foods

and non-existent boyfriends, to the stories about early days in dance and theatre, to the warm and

heartfelt cries about her struggles to reach the top, Misty and Ms. Allen let it all out. Attendees

learned about Misty’s love for cooking, Ms. Allen’s passion for math, and both of their callings

to music and dance. So many little girls dream about becoming a ballerina. And now, so many

little African American girls see the possibilities and dream about being the next Misty


While Ms. Copeland has made history and given hope to those who once had none, Mrs. Allen

has created a safe place to help foster those future talents. As a sophomore at Immaculate Heart

High School, I was beside myself when given the opportunity by KidScoop Media, to attend “An

Afternoon with Misty Copeland”.

I wasn’t one of those little girls who dreamed of being a

ballerina, but through various introductions to dance I have been inspired by Ms. Copeland’s

and Ms. Allen’s contributions.

I have a newfound appreciation for the hard work, dedication,

and perseverance it takes to be the best. While I wait to attend the Summer Intensive dance

session this summer, I’ll be enveloped in Misty’s book Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina.


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