Brooklyn Mack, a native of Elgin and now a star dancer with the Washington Ballet, will be part of a ground-breaking production next spring.
Misty Copeland, a popular soloist with American Ballet Theatre who has become a leader in diversity for ballet, will make her American debut in “Swan Lake” with the Washington Ballet in April, the company announced Wednesday.
Copeland, who is African-American, will dance the leading role of Odette/Odile at the Kennedy Center, with Mack as her partner and love interest, Prince Siegfried. Mack is also African-American, and the two will effectively shatter the all-white stereotype of “Swan Lake,” the most traditional of ballets.
“I’ve been a fan of Misty’s for years,” Washington Ballet Artistic Director Septime Webre said in an interview Wednesday. “There’s a freshness and newness that she brings to what she’s doing, and with the attention that she’s receiving now, it’s an exciting moment. To give her the opportunity to dance her first ‘Swan Lake' in the U.S. this spring, and to pair her with Brooklyn Mack, questions some notions about who should be dancing principal roles in classical ballet.
“Having two African-Americans dancing together seems to provide a fresh take on this classic,” Webre continued, “while challenging traditional notions of what a ballerina and principal male dancer should look like in the classical canon.”
Mack began training at age 12 in hopes of improving his skills at football. He performed in Radenko Pavlovich’s Columbia Classical Ballet compan. Later, he danced with the Joffrey Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre Studio and the Orlando Ballet before joining the Washington Ballet in 2009. In 2013, Mack became the first African-American man to win a senior gold medal at the Varna International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria.
Sarah Kaufman, The Washington Post