This is Why She Rocks | Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland

She will dance straight into your heart on her tiptoes. In 2007 Misty Copeland became the first African American Female Soloist for the American Ballet Theatre in NYC. On December 16th, she made a Special Guest appearance at the GALA of The Black Nutcracker at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, NY. Not only is she great on stage, but she is excellent off stage as well!

She was featured and hand-picked by Prince for his Crimson and Clover music video, and you can find her on the latest T-Mobile commercial for the new Blackberry Curve.

Misty Copeland
Misty Copeland. Photo Credit: Naim Chidiac Abu Dhabi Festival / Wikimedia Commons

Misty Copeland and her brothers were raised by a single mother who struggled financially due to a string of failed marriages. Copeland relocated from Kansas City to San Pedro, California, with her family when she was a child. Her first formal dance experience was on her middle school’s drill team.

Her talent was spotted by the team’s coach, who suggested she take ballet classes at the nearby Boys & Girls Club with Cynthia Bradley. Bradley soon recognized Copeland’s inherent aptitude, and despite the fact that 13 was a late start for a professional dance career, Copeland began attending classes with Bradley at the San Pedro Ballet School. Copeland moved in with Bradley and her family to be closer to the studio as her training became more intense.

She won the grand prize in the ballet category of the Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Awards when she was 15 years old, in 1998. That summer, she was offered a full scholarship to the San Francisco Ballet’s intense summer program.

A custody fight erupted between the Bradleys and Copeland’s mother, who was living in a motel with her children at the time. Copeland returned to her family and enrolled at San Pedro High School. She went on to Lauridsen Ballet Centre in Torrance, California, to continue her ballet training. Copeland was awarded a full scholarship to the ABT’s intensive summer program in 2000. She was also named the ABT’s National Coca-Cola Scholar that year. She was invited to join the ABT studio company, a chosen program for young dancers still in training, at the end of the summer.

She joined the ABT’s corps de ballet in 2001, becoming the sole African American woman in a group of 80 dancers. Despite being challenged by her differences, not only in skin color but also in body type (which she was constantly reminded of), she rose up the ranks due to her outstanding ability.