The popularity of ballerina Misty Copeland has managed to transcend the ballet. As the only black dancer at the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, she is an inspiration to thousands of little girls who dream of being ballet dancers but have been told they don’t fit the strict body and image requirements. A Ballerina’s Tale follows Copeland’s life and the importance of her career in bringing ballet out of its white supremacist roots and into the 21st century.

Copeland is a compelling subject for a documentary. She has never shied away from identifying as a black ballerina. Her racial difference within the ballet world is one that she embraces in the hopes of creating a conversation around the issues of race and body image that plague ballet. Copeland is the perfect ambassador for a more diverse ballet—she is technically proficient, charismatic and willing to take on the role of trailblazer and role model.

Unfortunately, director Nelson George never manages to settle on exactly what he wants to accomplish with A Ballerina’s Tale. The film wants to be an intimate look into the life of Copeland, but it also wants to be a look at the history of black ballet dancers and the massive barriers that they have had to overcome. These two things are not mutually exclusive, but George never manages to integrate them, spending a great deal of time on Copeland training, chatting with fellow dancers and, most inexplicably, a random anecdote about Red Lobster, which while charming, takes up a chunk of the film and adds nothing to the film’s overall goal.

The result is a film that almost diminishes Copeland’s accomplishments by glossing over any barriers she has had to face. The facts that she grew up in an underprivileged neighborhood or was introduced to ballet at the late age of thirteen are only mentioned in passing as the film jumps ahead to Copeland as an established dancer. Even her rise within the company is missing any drama. There is a brief mention of Copeland feeling out of place as the only black dancer in the American Ballet Theatre, but it is made clear the company has always fully supported her. This works in direct contrast to what the rest of the film seems to be hinting at: that it’s extremely difficult for a black ballerina to make it to Copeland’s level.