Misty Copeland helped to organize ballerinas around the world to participate in a virtual dance to raise money for fellow performers who are out of work and struggling financially due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On Wednesday, Copeland and fellow ballet dancer Joseph Phillips launched an initiative called Swans for Relief, for which they teamed up with 31 ballet dancers from 14 different countries to join Copeland in a charity video performance.
“Many dancers are unable to depend on paychecks and are facing the hardship of paying rent and/or buying food and other necessities,” said the initiative’s GoFundMe page. “We are coming together to help fellow dancers who are struggling financially.”
Copeland, who became the first Black woman in history to be promoted to principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that she was amazed by the dance community’s willingness to join her efforts.
“Once you’re let go of a company, it’s really difficult to find work again within that company or another company. So … I started reaching out to my friends,” she said. “And it was just incredible that everyone I was reaching out to, I was just shocked that it was like: ‘Yes! I’m in!’”
Copeland and Phillips noted on their fundraising website that they partnered with production company K Period Media for seed funding and the nonprofit Entertainment Industry Foundation to handle the distribution of funds.
Highlighting women from diverse backgrounds in the video performance was intentional for Phillips and Copeland, who has long championed efforts for Black representation in ballet.
“For us, the idea of 32 beautiful and strong women from different walks of life coming together to speak the common language of dance felt so unifying and empowering in these uncertain times,” their statement on GoFundMe read.