New York, New York -- Misty Copeland is sprouting new projects faster than the sound of a car honking when the light turns from red to green in midtown Manhattan. And yet, she maintains a centered, resolute demeanor regardless of how many times she faces the public and speaks about her remarkable life and projects.

In Copeland's most recent twist of artistic fate she is producing and starring in an Independent Film that scored screenings during the highly regarded TriBeca Film Festival and at Lincoln Center on July 1 at 8:30pm. LifeMotion Productions formed by Misty Copeland along with Emmy-winning writer-producer Leyla Fayyaz, hatched the film directed by Laruen Finerman. In a historic throwback, Finerman pays homage to silent Black films by eliminating all dialogue and instead setting the 28-minute story to music and dance.

With great compassion and concern, Rose (Copeland) struggles to care for her aging mother Gloria (the elegant Christina Johnson). Copeland teaches dance and dreams of a career while constantly in fear of losing her home and paying for essentials.

One day, when Copeland is teaching dance to a multitude of eager youngsters, a serendipitous passer by starts to dance in front of the studio window. Magically contorting arms, jutting out hips, collapsing to the ground and bounding back up, this highly appealing person, Sterling (Babatunji Johnson) finally gets Misty's attention.

Shot in Oakland, CA. the street scenes and clusters of kids dance on the highway and sidewalks, and decaying urban spaces. Alonzo King's choreograhy plays to the strengths of Copelands ballet background and Sterling's (Babatunji Johnson) street dance chops. Although Copeland has been absent from the stage for 3 years, her movement remains full-bodied and compelling.

In an extremely sympathetic portrayal, Copeland finds hope in her relationship with Sterling and the free-wheeling dancers. Effectively shot by the Director of Photography Ryan Carmody, the camera moves (dances) seamlessly through the dancers and sequences.

Although the lack of any dialogue can feel a bit strained, the overall film is engaging and a provocative springboard for Copeland's future in cinema.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis


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