By Megan Barnes, Daily Breeze
Misty Copeland’s homecoming in San Pedro last week raised over $75,000 to launch an after school dance outreach program she inspired, her first ballet teacher said.
Copeland, the 33-year-old ballet superstar named American Ballet Theatre’s first black female principal dancer in June, returned to her hometown Dec. 21 for the unveiling of an intersection named in her honor and to teach a master class benefiting the San Pedro Ballet School, where she got her start 20 years ago as a shy prodigy.
The studio on the corner of 13th Street and Pacific Avenue — now named Misty Copeland Square — aims to raise up to $100,000 to expand its DancEd Steps Up program, which provides free, multi-week dance lesson series to children in public schools throughout Los Angeles lacking arts education.
Now, the ballet school plans to use funds raised by donations, sponsorships and ticket sales from the master class and a VIP reception to purchase a van and hire staff to bring exceptionally dedicated students in the program to and from the studio in San Pedro on scholarship year-round.
Copeland first encountered ballet during a free class taught by artistic director Cindy Bradley at the San Pedro Boys & Girls Club.
She almost quit ballet because she did not have transportation to the studio from the Gardena hotel where she lived with her single mother and five siblings, eventually moving in with the Bradleys so she could train diligently and take up home schooling.
“If 80 percent of success is showing up, then transportation to school becomes a critical link to success,” Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino said at the square unveiling ceremony, where he promoted a GoFundMe page created for the program.
Bradley expressed deep gratitude to the community for its generosity. She said she was shocked to learn how much money was raised for the program and hopes to continue the momentum.
“We are really happy about all of the results, it’s definitely a great launch,” she said. “I think that Misty put it best — she said it was a magical day.”
In addition to dozens of contributions from organizations, businesses and individuals, major donors included the Rich Charitable Foundation, Chuck and Marylyn Klaus, Alvas Barres Floors Mirrors, Vision Produce Company of Los Angeles, Marsela McGrane-Vogel and Bill Vogel, the NAACP San Pedro/Wilmington Chapter, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor, Matthew and Roberta Jenkins, Caye Klutter, John and Donna Papadakis, Shauna Bain Smith and Hudson H. Smith III.
Some students traveled from as far as the east coast to participate in the master class.
Bradley said the school will continue to raise funds for the afterschool program, which will launch in February with the goal of giving scholarships to 20 new students a year. It will also provide tutoring and snacks to students.
“Smaller donations really count as well,” Bradley said. “Kids go through pointe shoes every week or two sometimes and those are expensive.”
Copeland, who was one of Barbara Walters’ “10 Most Fascinating People of 2015,” was in Southern California this month for two performances as Clara the princess in ABT’s production of “The Nutcracker” at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa.
The only black woman in the ballet company for a decade, Copeland has made it her mission to bring diversity and accessibility to ballet.
At the square unveiling, she thanked the Bradleys for “making me into the woman that I am, for introducing me to ballet and for giving me a path and platform to change not only my life, but so many little brown girls’ lives.”
Thank you to our generous sponsors!
– Allegro ($5,000 and above) –
The Rich Charitable Foundation
Scott Donnelly and Wade Nishimoto
Chuck and Marylyn Klaus
Don Knabe, Board of Supervisors
Vision Produce Company of Los Angeles
– Arabesque ($2,500) –
Alvas Barres Floors Mirrors
Carolina and Jeff Brown
Councilman Joe Buscaino
Dr. Matthew and Roberta Jenkins
Steve Kleinjan, Clean San Pedro
John and Donna Papadakis
Marsela McGrane-Vogel and Bill Vogel
– Pointe ($1,000) –
Jim and Mary Armor
The Boys and Girls Club of the Los Angeles Harbor
Shauna Bain Smith and Hudson H. Smith III
– Contributions and In-Kind Donations –
Drs. Curtis & Melanie Adams
Becky & Nick Campbell
Baby Cakes Baking Company
Dr. Rose Marie Banks
Jane and Robert Bard, Jr.
City of Los Angeles
Dr. Minnie Douglas
Ms. Rhonda Dowdy
Fleur de Lis Artistry in Flowers
Adam Gonzalez, Image Realm
The Happy Fundraiser
Dr. and Mrs. Eugene Hardin
Greg and Kristen Hetzer
Ms. Clarice Kavanaugh
Last Minute Florist
Le Mar Photography
Dr. Solomon and Annette Little
Ms. Valerie Little
Willie and Berlie Little
Michael Farmer Photography
Michael’s Tuscany Room
One Hour Photo, Etc.
Palos Verdes Art Center
Polly Ann Bakery
James and Andreda Pruitt
Thomas and Barbara Robinson
Richard and Jo-Ann Scandaliato
Niya Rae Sheppard
The Siegel & Friend Foundation
Ret. Ltc. David and Bertha Sightler
Stephanie Petrofanis-Vezzuto and
Warner Grand Theatre
Robert T. Wolfenden
San Pedro City Ballet’s fundraising goal is $100,000. Help us complete our goal by donating to our Go Fund Me page!