Misty Copeland loved dancing. She came from a humble origin in San Pedro and her family didn’t have much money, and she used to dance her way through troubles when she was younger. At 13 she discovered ballet at the Boys & Girls club in her hometown in California and after three months, was able to dance en pointe, which usually takes years.
"I never day dreamed about what I wanted to be when I grew up. But dancing gave me a connection to my personality that made me grow." (+)
She was a prodigy from a young age, but was told multiple times, as she grew up, that her body was just not right for a ballerina. Not the right bust, or the right legs, or the right torso length. Yet she worked hard and by the time she was 19, she joined the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) in New York, where she’s been performing for 14 years. Her breakthrough came, when she was given the lead in Stravinski’s Firebird, where she suffered 6 stress fractures, but nonetheless kept dancing.
"I was 29 years old and I was given the biggest role of my career at that point.
I felt, had I not done this, performance and proven myself that I was capable and mature
enough to become this charater, that I wouldn’t be given the opportunity again." (+)
She also kept her mind open and her presentations creative by recording videos with Prince and performing on stage with him, touring for about 4 years. And while most ballerinas stick to the stage, Misty also took it to telling her story. She wrote an autobiography called Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, she's in A Ballerina's Tale documentary appeared in commercials for Coach and Dr. Pepper, developed her own line of sport clothes, and endorsed the I WILL WHAT I WANT movement by Under Armour, in an effort to show: ballerinas are athletes too.
This tuesday, after years of hard work, Misty Copeland was named principal at the ABT, thus becoming, the first African American ballerina to get such a part. The ABT has also been known for relying on foreign dancers for their main roles. With this choice, not only did they change ballet’s history, they also showed their dancers, that there’s a future for them to grow their careers within the ABT.
“I had moments of doubting myself, and wanting to quit, because I didn’t know that there
would be a future for an African-American woman to make it to this level. At the same time,
it made me so hungry to push through, to carry the next generation. So it’s not me up here - and I'm constantly saying that - it’s everyone that came before me that got me to this position.”