Sunday, May 19, 2019

Misty Copeland

          Misty Copeland is a ballet icon in America, especially among dancers of color. Misty Copeland began dancing at the age of 13, which is unusually late for a professional ballerina, and rose quickly through the ranks of the ballet world. In the year 2000, at the young age of 18, Misty became the first African American dancer to join the American Ballet Theater as a principal ballerina. In a company of 80 dancers, Misty remained the only African American dancer in the company for a decade, and even now is accompanied by only 2 other dancers of color. Misty is an incredibly inspirational figure to many aspiring dancers because she has become an advocate for diversity in the world of dance, and has even written several books about her life and experience of prejudice throughout her journey as a prima ballerina. She is now 36 years old, a full year past the average retiring age for principal dancers, and she continues to perform for the American Ballet Theater as well as traveling around the world to spread her message of encouragement to young dancers across the globe. Misty Copeland is an important role model to me personally because as a child she is exactly what I wanted to be. I remember seeing videos of Misty online in The Firebird, The Nutcracker, and many other productions and imagining myself in her place on that stage. I still firmly believe it was that fantasy and Misty's words of encouragement that convinced me to keep pursuing my dreams of becoming a professional dancer. 

Misty Copeland's official website contains a description of her life history as well as a gallery of images and videos of her performances.
This NPR article contains an interview of Misty Copeland on her book Firebird, which is about her struggle for acceptance in the ballet community as a minority dancer. 
This article from The Harvard Gazette gives readers an inside look into a special lecture Misty gave at Harvard in which she shares her life story and her inspiration for her book Ballerina Body: Dancing and Eating Your Way to a Leaner, Stronger and More Graceful You, which is all about the critiques she faced about her body type as an African American dancer.