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Ballet Prodigy's Life Undergoes More Twists

Courts: Mother drops request for restraining order against teachers. Girl withdraws emancipation plea.

September 01, 1998|JOHN M. GLIONNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The personal squabbling over the career of a ballet prodigy continued Monday when the mother of 15-year-old Misty Copeland dropped a request for a temporary restraining order against the girl's two instructors, but said she still wanted the couple to stay away from her daughter.

Also complicating Misty's future were emancipation proceedings she had initiated against her mother, Sylvia DelaCerna. Monday, Torrance Superior Court Judge Lois Anderson Smaltz said the girl had told her she wanted to discontinue them.

The Los Angeles dance community is watching the machinations closely. Misty won a prestigious Spotlight Award in ballet as the best young dancer in Los Angeles this year despite less than three years of dance experience. The victory caught the attention of professional dance companies, including the famed Joffrey Ballet.

After meeting with attorneys in her chambers for nearly 45 minutes, the judge dismissed DelaCerna's motion for separate restraining orders against dance instructors Patrick and Cynthia Bradley as well as against the Los Angeles attorney who filed the emancipation case on Misty's behalf.

DelaCerna had filed for the restraining orders because she said the Bradleys, who had taken Misty into their home for more than two years for dance training, had brainwashed her daughter into filing for her legal freedom. She alleged that they had only financial motives in mind.

Monday's developments appeared to have had little effect on the tense custody standoff.

Speaking before more than a dozen news cameras and reporters outside the courthouse following the judge's ruling, DelaCerna's attorney, Gloria Allred, said she expected the Bradleys to honor a sworn promise made in court declarations that they only wanted what was best for Misty and would "abide by any decision the family makes."

"After a great deal of thought, Misty's mother has determined that it will be in Misty's best interest not to have any further contact with Cynthia and Patrick Bradley," Allred said.

Earlier, the Bradleys told reporters that they still had a personal management contract with Misty--an agreement signed by the dancer's mother--that gave them exclusive rights to manage her career, as well as a 20% cut of her earnings, minus expenses, until her 18th birthday.

"Our contract is still in full bloom," Cynthia Bradley said. "We hope to continue to manage Misty's career and be her teachers. Eventually, we hope to see her on every stage around the world."

When asked about the contract, Allred said, "We believe that contract is voidable. We don't believe it's enforceable and we won't be honoring it."

In dismissing the motions, Smaltz said the case revolved around "individual rights that emphasize personal success over the family unit or family togetherness."

She said it was Misty's desire to live with her mother and not pursue emancipation.

Smaltz added that in a closed-door meeting last week, Misty told her she wanted the parties to sit down privately and resolve their differences over her career.

But DelaCerna said Monday that wouldn't be happening.

Reading from a statement, she said, "I love my daughter immensely and will continue to support her in her dance career," adding that Misty will continue taking lessons at a Torrance dance school, away from the Bradleys.

Misty also recited from a brief statement, saying, "I am happy that this is over and I can continue with my dancing."

But in answer to reporters' questions, she seemed less sure of her words.

"I've always wanted everyone to get along," she said.

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