Misty Copeland takes a stand against prominent Russian ballet companies for using blackface

Copeland said it's "painful" to use blackface over hiring black ballerinas.

The director of a historic Russian ballet will continue to have dancers wear blackface in shows despite world-renowned ballerina Misty Copeland's outrage over its use as she has vowed to not stop bringing "the reality of the ballet world" to the forefront.

It's unclear what sparked Copeland to go to Instagram on Dec. 7 to call out Russia's Bolshoi Theatre for using dancers in blackface instead of hiring black ballerinas, but the theater's general director, Vladimir Urin, declined to address the issue.

Copeland's post began with a photograph of two teenage ballerinas in blackface and full black-body suits from La Bayadère ballet, which is currently showing at the Bolshoi, with the caption: "And this is the reality of the ballet world.... Refer to my last post."

The slideshow continued with comments from the "last post" Copeland made that same day. Copeland's previous post was a portion of a re-purposed July 3, 2015, video from actor, Rafael Casal's YouTube channel, where he spoke out about why racism still exists.

Casal's video was a split screen of himself along with a photograph of Copeland, captioned "Why Misty Copeland's accomplishment CANNOT be used in the 'Racism is over now argument.'"

Copeland was 32 when she was named the first black principal dancer with the American Ballet Theater in July 2015.

Casal went on to give an almost four-minute discussion which he deemed a "Rafarant" -- a play on words with his first name and a rant -- about "white america" history.

Copeland has been vocal about the racial inequalities within ballet and told ABC News in August 2015 about the negative comments she's experienced.

"I'm black. We [blacks] don't exist in the ballet world. I'm too muscular. I'm too short. My bust is too big," Copeland said.

Copeland took to Twitter to continue the discussion with her followers on Dec. 12.

"I get that this is a VERY sensitive subject in the ballet world. But until we can call people out and make people uncomfortable, change can’t happen," Copeland wrote in response to a follower who questioned Russian media defending the use of blackface.

In the performance arts world, characters have been portrayed in blackface going back to early 1900s and the production of La Bayadère is not excluded.

Urin told Russian's local news agency, RIA Novosti on Dec. 16 that he will "not get involved in such a discussion" in response to Copeland's comments.

"The ballet La Bayadère has been performed thousands of times in this production in Russia and abroad, and the Bolshoi Theatre will not get involved in such a discussion," Urin said.

It was just four years ago when the Metropolitan Opera House in New York broke a 124-year practice of having the lead in "Otello" perform in blackface.

Opera singer Tamara Wilson protested wearing blackface in July 2019 for the title role in "Aida" -- a 106-year practice.

Meanwhile, Russian opera singer Anna Netrebko received mixed reviews from her fans on Instagram on June 8, 2019, when she posted herself in character as "Aida" in blackface.