Misty Copeland and Brooklyn Mack to Dance in the Washington Ballet's Historic "Swan Lake"

November 28, 2001

Misty Copeland will make her U.S. debut of Odette/Odile in Swan Lake in April, with the Washington Ballet. Though she will dance the role with American Ballet Theatre in June, Copeland’s debut at the Washington Ballet is particularly historic. She will partner with WB dancer Brooklyn Mack, one of the few African American men in the ballet world.

The two of them dancing together in Swan Lake is groundbreaking, thanks to the vision of WB artistic director Septime Webre. It’s entirely possible that such a pairing would have eventually happened on its own—it’s encouraging to imagine the future of ballet, where all companies are so racially diverse that it’s not headlining news to pair two Black dancers together in principal roles. Of course reality is nowhere near that future, and the Washington Ballet deserves praise for choosing a cast that makes a political as well as an artistic statement.

The Swan Lake run will also be WB’s first full-length production of the ballet. Rebooting classics is a major investment for any ballet company, and the Washington Ballet is demonstrating that Copeland and Mack are reliable artists who can deliver on a major technical challenge. Merde to the whole company!