In 2015, Misty Copeland inspired millions by becoming the first African-American principal ballerina with the American Ballet Theatre in its 75-year history. The Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey and Rainy Day Books will present “A Conversation With Misty Copeland” on July 31 at Unity Temple on the Plaza.
The Kansas City-born dancer will discuss her new book, “Ballerina Body: Dancing and Eating Your Way to a Leaner, Stronger, and More Graceful You.” The Star’s interview with Copeland will publish next week.
On Sept. 11, 2001, the Harriman-Jewell Series presented the American Ballet Theatre at the Music Hall, and Copeland was a member of the corps for that performance. Clark Morris, executive director of the Harriman-Jewell Series, recalled the circumstances surrounding that unforgettable evening.
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“Here we had the quintessential New York ballet company in Kansas City while we had this tragedy going on in New York,” he said. “It’s a very memorable day for me beyond what we felt as citizens of this country and the pain that we shared with those in New York.”
Throughout the day, Morris was in contact with the Kansas City Police Department and the FBI to determine the safety of holding the performance. He was also having constant discussions with Kevin McKenzie, the artistic director of the American Ballet Theatre.
“Just from a sort of moral perspective, we wondered if it was right to hold the performance that day,” Morris said. “Kevin McKenzie was very adamant that they should dance. So we went ahead with it, and I’d say probably 65 percent of the audience showed up. Kevin did a little pre-curtain speech and spoke of talking with the dancers, and he said that as artists this was part of their responsibility, to help people process through times such as this.”
Copeland returned with the American Ballet Theatre under much happier circumstances in 2005.
“It’s been fun to watch her,” Morris said. “And that’s sort of the Richard Harriman model. You get to see these great superstars when they’re young, and then, of course, we want to invite them back as their career matures. It’s great to be able to see the Luciano Pavarottis at a moment when you can recognize their greatness, but the rest of the world has yet to figure that out.”
7 p.m. July 31. Unity Temple on the Plaza, 707 W. 47th St. $30. For more information, visit rainydaybooks.com/MistyCopeland.
Ensemble Iberica & Making Movies
Making Movies is the name of a Latin American band that celebrates the cross-cultural connections between European music and that of Latin American countries like Cuba, Bolivia and Peru. Which makes it a perfect partner for Beau Bledsoe’s Ensemble Iberica.
The two enterprising ensembles are joining forces for a concert July 27 at the RecordBar. With a battery of indigenous percussion and instruments like the charango, this promises to be a lively and horizon-expanding concert.
7:30 p.m. July 27. RecordBar, 1520 Grand Blvd. $20-$40. ensembleiberica.org.