Ballerina Misty Copeland became the first African-American Principal dancer for the American Ballet Theater. Misty’s success comes after a tumultuous childhood and a constant struggle for acceptance as a black ballerina.
Let’s take a look into the life of the new Black Swan:
Misty Danielle Copeland was born on September 10, 1982 in Kansas City, Missouri. She is one of six children. She started ballet at the age of 13, which is considered “old” in the world of ballet. Within a matter of months, Misty was dancing en pointe and quickly rose to stardom.
Misty’s childhood role model was gymnastics legend, Nadia Comâneci. She also loved dancing to Mariah Carey’s music.
She won her first solo role at age 14 after winning a national ballet contest.
After only eight months of study, she performed as Clara in The Nutcracker, drawing in large crowds and media attention.
By her mid teens, she was embroiled in a highly publicized custody battle between her mother and her ballet teachers, who also served as her guardians. An emancipation filing and restraining order were involved in the legal proceedings. The case was eventually settled and Misty returned home to study under a new teacher.
Even with a demanding schedule, Misty was able to maintain a 4.0 GPA.
Copeland won the Spotlight Award for best dancer in Southern California. She later became a member of the American Ballet Theater after participating in two summer workshops. Misty became a member of the corps de ballet in 2001. Seven years later, she worked her way up to soloist.
During her second year in the corps, she endured many hardships, including pressure to meet the standards of the ballet “look”, which resulted in a binge eating disorder.
Undoubtedly, Misty has felt criticized and isolated because of her race, however, that has not stopped her from pursuing her dreams. She has several notable performances under her belt, including her roles in Giselle, Cinderella, and George Balanchine’s Tarantella.
She is 5 feet and 2 inches tall.
Misty is described as the Jackie Robinson of ballet, as her involvement in dance continues to break many barriers.
She filmed a music video with Prince for a single from his Lotusflower album.
Misty has been featured in a host of dance and entertainment magazines, most notably, her recent recognition as one of Time magazines most influential people.
She designed a dancewear line called M by Misty.
Six stress fractures in her tibia caused her to withdraw from an entire season at the American Ballet Theater, but recovered and was back “en pointe”.
Misty released an autobiography, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina. A documentary about her life, A Ballerina’s Tale, was featured at the 2015 TriBeCa Film Festival.
Although, Misty’s dancing style can be described as classical, she has made ballet a huge part of pop culture through her more contemporary and modern dancing athleticism.
Two days ago, Misty became the first African American female principle dancer in the American Ballet Theater’s 75-year history. This victory came after almost 8 years of being a soloist. She has become a role model for so many little girls and young women. She is a example of strength and courage, in her pursuit to defy the odds. Throughout her lifetime, Misty had many opportunities to give up, but instead, persevered and fought her way to the top. She has reached the top, but something tells me she will continue to soar.
For Misty, the sky really is the limit!
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