Barrier-breaking ballet dancer Misty Copeland is on a mission to diversify the dance world. She has launched a program aimed at cultivating pathways for Black and Latinx youth in the space, the New York Times reported.
The lack of representation at all levels in ballet has been a longstanding issue. Socio-economic barriers have often impacted accessibility to the art form, and Copeland hopes to change the narrative. The ballet star—who made history as the American Ballet Theatre’s first Black woman principal dancer—has created Be Bold, a free, 12-week dance program for children between the ages of 8 and 10.
Intertwining dance, wellness and music, the courses will be led by artists chosen by Copeland and others who are part of her nonprofit, the Misty Copeland Foundation. The initiative will kick off this month at two New York City-based Boys and Girls Clubs with 120 students and aims to serve thousands of children in the future.
Be Bold is backed by the Goldman Sachs Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and other donors.
Initiatives like Be Bold are needed as public schools’ lack of investment in arts education programs has been pushed to the forefront of a national conversation. Research shows that less than half of public elementary schools offer dance instruction nationwide.
Copeland says the state of systemic racial inequities in America propelled her to develop a program that merges her passion for dance and advancing social justice.
“It’s so important for me to give back to the community, as well as to show people that ballet should be and can be inclusive,” she shared in a statement, according to the news outlet. “It’s giving opportunities to people that don’t feel that they are included in this elite art form and offering a new approach to what ballet can look like.”