The American star will join Australian Ballet as a guest artist for two performances of Sleeping Beauty.

In exciting news for ballet fans, American star Misty Copeland is to make her debut as Aurora in Sydney when she joins The Australian Ballet as a guest artist for two performances of The Sleeping Beauty in November.

Misty Copeland in Coppélia at the Abu Dhabi Festival. Photograph © Naim Chidiac

It is the second time that Copeland – a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre (ABT) – will have made an important role debut in Australia. In 2014, when ABT toured to QPAC in Brisbane, she danced her first Odette/Odile in Swan Lake as a soloist with the company. She was only the second African American dancer to perform the dual role, following Lauren Anderson at Houston Ballet in 1996. Reviewing her performance for The Australian, Deborah Jones said: “This was unfortunately Copeland’s only Odette in Brisbane but it was enough to make the heart burst with joy.”

Copleand will play Aurora in Sydney on November 22 and 24, dancing in The Australian Ballet’s spectacular production, which has been reimagined by AB Artistic Director David McAllister. “It’s an honour for me at this juncture in my career to have the opportunity to be a guest artist with premiere companies like The Australian Ballet. The warmth and openness that I received from the Australian people while on tour with ABT in 2014 was overwhelming. I can’t wait to join this company of talented dancers on the stage in my debut as Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty,” said Copeland.

Born in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in San Pedro California, Copeland began studying ballet at the comparatively late age of 13. She joined the American Ballet Theatre corps de ballet in 2001 and rose through the ranks to make history in 2015 when she became the first African American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in ABT’s 75-year history.

Her repertoire includes Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Kitri in Don Quixote, the lead role in Giselle, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Gamzatti in La Bayadère, the Fairy Autumn in Cinderella, Swanilda in Coppélia, the Firebird in Alexei Ratmansky’s Firebird, and Clara the Princess in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker among other roles.

Copeland has become an inspiring role model and is in demand as a public speaker and for corporate sponsorships. She is the author of the best-selling books Life in Motion and Ballerina Body, as well as the award-winning children’s book Firebird. In 2014, President Obama appointed her to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, and in 2015 she was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine, appearing on its cover.

Misty Copeland in Romeo and Juliet. Photograph © Gene Schiavone

Commenting on the announcement, McAllister said: “Misty Copeland is a phenomenal talent, both on and off the stage. Her incredible gift as a dancer is matched only by her passion for the art form, which she champions tirelessly. We are absolutely delighted to welcome Misty to the company for the first time as a guest artist in the role of Aurora and I am especially excited to work with Misty in a production that’s very special to me.”

The Sleeping Beauty is the first full-length production created by McAllister, and one of the most expensive and ambitious ballets ever staged by the AB. Since its premiere in 2015, it has played sell-out seasons in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. Reviewing it when it premiered, Limelight gave it 5 stars and described it as “truly sublime” saying “everything in this production [is] simply a joy to watch”.

The Sleeping Beauty plays at the Capitol Theatre, Sydney, November 11 – 25


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