Who is Misty Copeland?

Quck answer

Misty Copeland is a renowned ballet dancer and the first African-American woman to become a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre. She was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1982 and began her ballet training at the age of 13. Despite starting late, she quickly rose to prominence and became a soloist in 2007. Copeland’s talent and determination have broken barriers in the ballet world, inspiring aspiring dancers of all backgrounds. She is also an author and advocate for diversity in the arts. Copeland’s impact on the world of ballet and her inspiring journey have made her a role model for many.


Do you have a passion for dancing? Are you always the first to learn the latest dances on social media? Perhaps you enjoy classic dances like the jitterbug. Many individuals love the sensation of moving to their favorite music!

However, for many people, dancing is more than just a fun hobby. Some turn it into a profession! Today’s Wonder of the Day is about one such individual – Misty Copeland!

So, who exactly is Misty Copeland? Today, she is a renowned ballerina, author, and fitness advisor. However, in 1995, she was just a thirteen-year-old girl living in San Pedro, California. It was during that year that she first put on a pair of ballet slippers and discovered her passion for dance.

Copeland’s initial ballet training took place at the Boys & Girls Club, where she attended a class taught by dance coach Cynthia Bradley. It quickly became evident that Copeland possessed natural talent. Her coach encouraged her to enroll in classes at the San Pedro Ballet School.

At the time, the young dancer had relocated with her family from Kansas City, Missouri to San Pedro. Copeland and her five siblings were living with their mother in a motel when she began her dance journey. As she continued to train, she made the decision to move in with Cynthia Bradley and her family in order to be closer to her dance studio.

Despite Copeland’s talent, she faced numerous challenges. Starting ballet at the age of 13 put her at a disadvantage compared to many other ballerinas. Additionally, she encountered racial discrimination and pressure to lose weight from individuals in the ballet world. She even had difficulty finding ballet slippers that matched her skin tone, so she resorted to dyeing her own.

A custody battle between her mother and coach further complicated matters. At the age of 15, Copeland moved back in with her family but continued to pursue ballet. In 2000, she earned a full scholarship to train with the American Ballet Theatre (ABT).

This was only the beginning for Copeland. She excelled at ABT and performed leading roles in numerous shows. In 2009, she appeared in a music video alongside the pop icon Prince. In 2014, she was appointed to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition by Barack Obama. Then, in 2015, Copeland made history as ABT’s first Black female principal dancer.

Copeland has dedicated herself to making the ballet world more inclusive. She played a pivotal role in establishing Project PliƩ, an initiative that provides dance teacher training in racially diverse communities. Additionally, she has urged ballet shoe manufacturers to produce a wider range of flesh-tone colored shoes to cater to dancers of various skin tones.

In 2017, Copeland published the book Ballerina Body. In this book, she discusses the importance of mental strength in ballet and promotes body positivity. Copeland emphasizes that it is skill and hard work, rather than body type, that define a ballerina.

Do you dream of gracefully gliding across the ballet stage one day? Or would you rather showcase your moves like Michael Jackson or twist for enthusiastic fans? However you prefer to express yourself through movement, put on some music and dance today. You never know, perhaps one day you’ll turn your passion into a career!

Give It a Try

Find an adult who can assist you in exploring one or more of the activities listed below to continue your learning!

Black Ballerinas and Ballet

Misty Copeland is not the only successful Black ballerina. There are others who have achieved great success in this field as well. It would be interesting to hear more about their stories. What new and fascinating facts did you learn about them? Share a summary of what you read with a friend or a family member.

If you are ready to get moving and express yourself through dance, why not create your own dance routine? Start by selecting a song that resonates with you and matches its mood and rhythm. Then, come up with dance moves that complement the music. After that, teach your dance routine to a friend or a family member. Enjoy the experience of dancing and having fun together!

Are you interested in learning ballet? Begin by familiarizing yourself with the basic ballet positions. It’s important to have a grown-up family member or adult to guide you through the process, as many people find these positions challenging. What are your thoughts on this? Do you find them difficult as well?

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