Misty Copeland has just become the first African-American principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre. She is a piece of history, but her whole story is so important to know.
For traditional ballet standards, Misty Copeland started very late at the age of 13. She took her beginning classes at the Boys and Girls Club in San Pedro, CA, and when she saw her mother struggle with raising her and her five siblings, she knew she had to strive for more and to succeed above her current situation.
A year after, she won a national ballet competition, and secured a title as the best dancer in the greater Los Angeles area. Despite being told she had the wrong body for ballet, she continued to pursue it as a career.
In 2000, she joined the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, which is the second company of the famed ABT, and she began her to rise in the ranks, albeit slowly. in 2003, she was named one of 25 dancers to watch by Dance magazine. She was promoted to soloist for ABT in 2007 at the age of 24. She began dancing bigger roles, such as lead in The Firebird and was featured in a Prince video and on his New York portion of his tour in 2009.
Outside of dancing, she is a sponsored athlete for Under Armour, wrote her autobiography entitled “Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina”, was selected in 2015 Time’s 100 Most Influential People, and has co-written a children’s book called “Firebird”.
Misty Copeland became a principal dancer for ABT on June 30th, after her debut as the lead of Swan Lake. This is a great accomplishment, but it is clear that she is so important not only for that, but for her journey. She teaches that talent should not be limited by your situation, and that anyone can reach their dreams with a little courage, determination, and passion. She shows that body type and skin tone shouldn’t be limiting factors to someone’s success. And now, little girls of all backgrounds and ethnicities can see her on the stage and want to be just like her.