San Francisco-The clarion call of the brass horns followed by the pointed punctuation of violins and all of the ensuing melodies, so on and so forth...ah the soothing familiar sound of the Nutcracker Suite marks many holiday celebrations around the world.
Sometimes in life, it is the half-beats, the points and counter
Ballerinas Misty Copeland & Angela Watson at Hayes Street Grill in San Francisco. Having played "Clara" among her many roles, Copeland has some stellar insights.(Photo Courtesy of Carolyn Evans Watson)
points and rhythms of actions away from the main stage that fuel a future. So, it might be said of Misty Copeland's visit to San Francisco as she stopped for the ever so common human action of having a meal at the Hayes Street Grill in San Francisco before her sold out program, "Misty Copeland in Conversation with Laurene Powell Jobs" at the Nourse Theatre in benefit of the Gugulethu Project (http://www.gugulethuballetproject.org/what-we-do/) in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa.
The occasion also included a book signing for her latest offering, "Ballerina Body" and a chance to meet special guests associated with the program: Garen Scribner, Sarah van Patten, Olivia Ramsay, Odwa Makanda and Lwando Dutyulwa!
As Misty Copeland's influence is international, helping young dancers in South Africa, she took a moment to pay it forward by meeting one talented 4.0 Honors student of the Oakland School for the Arts, 15 year-old Angela Watson, who is playing "Clara" in the 2017 San Francisco Ballet production of "Nutcracker." It's young Watson's second consecutive year in the role that little girls around the world have longed to play for over 100 years. It's been 125 years, to be exact, since the World Premiere of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker" in St. Petersburg, Russia on December 18, 1892, some 27 years after slavery was abolished in the United States of America on December 18, 1865. In the rare sorority among ballet dancers, two "Black Ballerinas" (for the sake of alliteration) met December 18, 2017 in San Francisco, where the United Nations began and the first Nutcracker production was held.
What's the significance of that short exchange between 35 year-old Misty Copeland, and 15 year-old Angela Watson, on an unseasonably warm day in December, almost a week to the day after the untimely death of "The People's Mayor Edwin Mah Lee," whose passing yielded San Francisco's first Black female Mayor, "Acting Mayor London Breed?" It brings to mind the saying "Some things are taught and some things are caught." The power of engaging someone in a moment of time of quick interaction with limited or sometimes no words, has encouraged many hearts since time immemorial to "do better;" "go for it;" "Just do it;" "climb every mountain," "ford every stream" to achieve your dream.
Thanks to Misty Copeland for using her celebrity light to encourage a young talent like Angela Watson along her path in the dance world. Copeland was promoted to principal dancer in June 2015, making her the first African American woman to ever be promoted to the position in the American Ballet Theatre's 75-year history.
In past reports, like Copeland's conversation with OZY's Carlos Watson at program hosted by NPR in Washington, D.C., OZY's former writer, now with the Sacramento Bee reporter, Emily Cadei wrote in "Misty Copeland: Ballet Prodigy Turned Activist:"
"Copeland said it remains "really, really difficult" to be an African-American woman of color in American ballet, even in 2014. "It's hard to be alone, it's hard to know there's never been a real path that I can follow and feeling like at times there's no path for me, I'm going to give up," she told Watson. "Just owning that I can lead others was a huge step for me in my career."
Angela inspired by Misty Copeland shares a big smile surely thinking,"Thanks Mom for making this happen."
(photo courtesy of
Carolyn Evans Watson).
With admiring eyes like the accomplished young Watson, Copeland's willingness to "give back," as shown by her participation in Monday night's program with Jobs, will not be fruitless. Angela, sacrificed her ballet class although excused by her teacher, for a chance to meet Copeland.
"It was so exciting to get to meet her. She has achieved something I have been working hard to achieve," said Angela Watson, sixth level student at the San Francisco Ballet Company and Oakland School for the Arts 4.0 Honors Student. "When I first read about her I was inspired to work harder. It's great to have her signed book," said Watson.
Carolyn Evans Watson, CEO of CECO and wife of Geoffrey Watson, M.D. (Healthbeat TV) said she had been in correspondence with Kristine Elliott, former American Ballet Theatre soloist and founder of the Gugulethu Project, for several weeks trying to arrange the meeting. "For Angela to finally meet her 'mentor from afar' is inspiration for the entire family.
Her twin brother Richard, just had a vocal performance with the Oakland School for the Arts Vocal Music Department Saturday night in Oakland while his sister danced in the Nutcracker in San Francisco," said Evans Watson. "It's like raising a Paul Robeson and a Misty Copeland at the same time with the support of course of their father and older brother Bryan, a Studio Sound Recording Engineer. The meeting with Mitsy inspired us all."
Angela's poise and presence on stage has begun to mirror that of Copeland thanks to instruction at OSA School of Dance "Directed by Reginald Ray Savage and also the San Francisco Ballet School "Directed by Patrick Armand." Copeland's and Angela's demure beauty coupled with their strength in the lyrical flowing execution of movement is noted as well.
Locally, Angela can be seen as "Clara" in the remaining performances of the Nutcracker at the
Angela as Clara (left). (cover photo:Erik Tomasson, SFBallet Company. Purchase of $10 Souvenir Program benefits the ballet).
War Memorial Opera House. This week Angela's performances as "Clara" are December 20th and December 23rd both at 7:00 p.m. and in the Dragonfly role, December 22nd at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Next week she performs as "Clara" December 27th at 2:00 p.m. & December 29th at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Angela's Dragonfly performances are Christmas Eve 11 a.m.; December 28th at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.; and final performance December 30th at 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Along with Angela, follow three other OSA students, Daniil Shaposhnikov (Mouse), Pilar Ortega(Dragonfly) and Angelina Williams (Dragonfly) from Oakland School for the Arts' School of Dance to the 2017 San Francisco Nutcracker Ballet's Land of Dreams.
As Cadei reported, "In order to spark change in this very niche art form, we have to start conversations on a much bigger platform than just the ballet world," Copeland said in Washington. "And that's what I'm trying to do."
Copeland is being the change she wants to see. She is inspiring all of us to pay it forward by giving what we have to give to others in the arenas of our experience. Another example of her leadership in providing inroads, is making a way for many others through ABT and The Boys and Girls Club's Project Plie.
Have Misty Copeland and Denzel Washington (a Boys & Girls Club advocate) made that Pas de deux PSA (Public Service Announcement) for the Boys & Girls Club yet? It would be great to have their star power combined to support one of our great national youth nonprofits.
Once again, Misty Copeland is making moves on and off the stage and she is showing others how to do so as well, not only for her "mentee from afar," Angela Watson. She is showing all of us how to "give back," "pass it forward," and "get it done."
Thoughts on Giving...
"You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give." ~ Kahlil Gibran
"It's not how much we give but how much love we put into giving." ~ Mother Teresa
"No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another." ~ Charles Dickens
"We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give." ~Winston S. Churchill
Playing in the role of "Clara" in San Francisco Ballet's "Nutcracker" for the second consecutive year,15 year-old Angela Watson (center) receives instruction from ballet master and principal dancer Anita Paciotti marking her 50th Anniversary with the San Francisco Ballet.Photo: Liz Hafallia, The Chronicle. Click Image for Claudia Bauer's article.
Did You Hear This Recent Commonwealth Conversation?
Tale of Two Cities: Detroit & San Francisco
Conversation with Tonya Allen, CEO of Skillman Foundation and Fred Blackwell, CEO of San Francisco Foundation. Moderated by Mina Kim of KQED (Allen pictured. Click image to view).
Leadership San Francisco alumnae,
Marsha Maloof (L) and Jackie Wright (R) greet
Skillman Foundation CEO,Tonya Allen.
Happy Holidays!! I would like to invite you to a fundraiser for, WISE Health, Brittney Doyle, MPH Co-Founder on December 22nd. Money raised will go towards expanding our senior health programs to more communities in District 10 and throughout San Francisco. Please share with your networks and I hope to see you there!
Looking into 2018... Something to Dance About
LINES Between East and West Connecting traditions in music and dance.
Click Image for Details!
By continuing this annual poetry program, we honor eloquent poets of the past, such as Lee Williams, who joined the ancestors, January 1 last year, Arnold White, Joy Holland, Kamau Seitu, and many others who remain vivid in our memories. Our participants have ranged in age from 8 to 80, including published writers, award-winning authors and brand new poets reading their work in public for the first time. Music, dance and costumes have enhanced past performances as each participant shares her or his unique style. We also have poets performing in ensemble. You are invited to showcase your work.
Saturday, February 10, 2018, Planet Fillmore TV screens “Ranger Penn Buffalo Soldiers” -National Park Ranger Rik Penn, a fixture at the Presidio for years, tells what it meant to have the Buffalo Soldiers in San Francisco at the turn of the 20th Century, and other videos that speaks of African American resilience.