America’s Prima Ballerina Comes Home to California

Returning to the San Pedro stage where she first got her start some 20 years ago, ballerina superstar Misty Copeland quickly broke through the classroom jitters as she began to guide 50 young dancers who had aced a spot in a rare master class with her. – — Donna Littlejohn, LA Daily News

Among the growing number of indicators suggesting that California now rivals New York as an American arts hub is the story of Misty Copeland, the little girl from San Pedro who was discovered at 13 and is now a principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre.

Yet Copeland’s story also offers a painful indicator of how far California has to go in its growth as an arts center: the great dancer must still ply her craft on a New York stage.

New York’s continued primacy is by no means inevitable: California has an abundance of venues and a growing number of schools and companies. What it is missing is the kind of sponsors and well-heeled trustees of which the Big Apple has no shortage.

It may well be that California’s efforts to excel would be best applied to other arts, such as film, literature, fine arts, and interactive works. But ballet and the theatre remain areas where, arguably, we could be doing much better.

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Author: David Wolf

An adviser to corporations and organizations on strategy, communications, and public affairs, David Wolf has been working and living in Beijing since 1995, and now divides his time between China and California. He also serves as a policy and industry analyst focused on innovative and creative industries, a futurist, and an amateur historian.

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