Misty Copeland documentary “A Ballerina’s Tale” is now playing.
Iconic ballerina Misty Copeland made history when she became the first African-American woman to be named principal dancer of the legendary American Ballet Theater. Get the incredible, behind-the-scenes story of how she overcame a tumultuous upbringing and near career-ending injuries to become one of the most revered dancers of her generation. More than just a ballet success story, Copeland’s journey is a hugely inspirational, universal tale of perseverance.
Check out our interview with director Nelson George below!
How did you become involved in the project?
I met Misty and her manager Gilda Squire at a cocktail party hosted by Bevy Smith. I’d heard of Misty but knew very little about ballet. At the end of the night I asked for help obtaining a ticket. So my first ballet turned out to be Misty dancing “The Firebird” at the Met. I was impressed. At the after party Misty confided that she was in a great deal of pain. She would have surgery on a fractured shin a few months later. As she was recovering, I approached Gilda and Misty about documenting her comeback. So the film started then.
Why did you choose to focus more on Misty’s life recently, rather than a more tradition documentary where a large portion is about their early life and family?
Misty’s childhood story had been well-documented in her autobiography and in so many news outlets including “60 Minutes.” What was fresh and unique was the footage my crew and I shot of her comeback, so the footage told us what movie to make.
I love verite footage. I love fly on the wall filmmaking. When we started shooting it was just Misty and my little Canon camera. So we had very small crews, never staged anything and tried to stay out of the way.
Finding the Funk became a documentary about storytelling. For most of the folks we had very little time and had to squeeze into their schedule. With Misty we had incredible access, so we were able to linger with her and create a more relaxed rhythm.
Misty is an artist/athlete who combines the sensibility of a gifted artisan with the physical rigor of a top professional athlete. I wanted to capture that combination of thoughtfulness and intensity.
Race has defined Misty’s place in the ballet world as much as her natural gifts as a dancer. It wasn’t her choice but one she has confronted in the ballet world and we were not going to shy away from how her race has affected he career and world view.