Charlotte Ballet’s Kopecky Breaks Nose and Keeps Dancing


If there was one motto for the Charlotte Ballet last Friday, it was: The show must go on.

After dancers James Kopecky and Josh Hall were injured, Charlotte Ballet’s associate artistic director Sasha Janes stepped up, along with bringing in Alexander Peters, Pennsylvania Ballet dancer. All within a week.

Kopecky broke his nose in the finale of Janes’ “Sketches from Grace” during the Dance Innovations performance on Aug. 3. The break happened during a series of turns with partner Chelsea Dumas.

But, there was one more ballet left of the evening. It was the high-energy, club-inspired “The Groove” by Dwight Rhoden, resident choreographer for the Charlotte Ballet.

“Here in Chautauqua, the company only has a limited amount of people to pull from,” Kopecky wrote in an email. “I felt like pushing through the rest of the show was the easiest, and in some regards the safest. Dwight’s ballets can be confusing if you haven’t been rehearsing them, so putting an understudy in last minute and never working with my partner would be super confusing while [it] also could be dangerous. Sucking it up and just finishing the show was really the only choice in my mind.”

Kopecky said “the artistic staff has or will never put pressure on a dancer to perform injured.” He felt OK continuing because he wasn’t “dizzy or disoriented.”

“You can never prepare for a moment like this,” Kopecky said. “The only thing you can do is be objective, keep calm and don’t kid yourself. If you hurt when you’re stationary, then you’ll be hurt when you’re pushing your body to the max.”

Although injuries are inevitable, Kopecky said there’s something that separates dancers.

“Sure, we don’t expect to get injured, but the way we are always pushing ourselves everyday, our bodies cannot last forever,” Kopecky said. “However, with that said, good dancers condition their bodies for the long-term so that when the injury does occur, it doesn’t end their career.”

Rebekah Barnes

The author Rebekah Barnes