By Laura Berger | Women and Hollywood August 18, 2014 at 11:36AM
The recent release of a fifth installment in the Step Up franchise indicates that audiences remain captivated by the art of dance and by those who are doing the dancing. In what promises to be a fascinating look at a ballet dancer and the world she inhabits, New Line Cinema has optioned the rights for Misty Copeland's bestselling memoir, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina.
Copeland is the second black female soloist to dance with the American Ballet Theatre, one of the world's foremost ballet companies. Copeland didn't begin ballet training until she was 13, and when she wasn't in class at a Boys & Girls Club working towards dancing en pointe -- a feat she accomplished within only months -- she was living in a welfare motel with her mother and her siblings. The film, which will focus primarily on Copeland's life from the age of 13 to her late teens, is being described by Deadline as "The Blind Side set in the dance world." The Blind Side received a fair bit of criticism for its handling of race, but given the subject matter, the focal point (Copeland herself rather than someone who helped her along the way), and the source of this biopic (Copeland's own memoir), it seems likely that issues of race (and gender) will be addressed in a more nuanced way in this project.
Adam Shankman, Jennifer Gibgot, and Phil Sandhaus will produce, with Stephanie Allain (who served as executive producer on much-hyped Dear White People) and Lenore Kletter attached to write. No director has been announced, nor word on Copeland's level of involvement with the film, though it is worth noting that next month she will dance the lead in the American Ballet Theatre's production of Swan Lake -- the first time an African-American ballerina will have done so.
It's all too uncommon for a project to feature a lead character who is a woman of color, so we're very much looking forward to this, especially because it'll be penned by two women. Hopefully a female director will sign on.