Misty Copeland is an African-American classical ballet dancer that is making tremendous waves in the world of classical arts. In the history of the American Ballet Theater founded in 1940, Misty is just the third African-American female soloist. The National Boys & Girls Club National Hall of Fame plans on inducting her this spring. Copeland points to her differences in body type as compared with most ballet dancers and the difficulties making her way in the field. Misty is of African, German and Italian descent and has made a historic and meteoric rise in the world of classical ballet. Far from just a tremendous athlete in strength, Misty is a grounded young woman and down to earth in the success she has achieved training intensively as a dancer.
Misty Copeland was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1982 and was raised in San Pedro, California. She began studying ballet at the relatively late age of 13 at the San Pedro Dance Center where she showed a tremendous aptitude for dance. Within two years Misty won first place in the Music Center Spotlight Awards vaulting to her greater heights than expected so early. Her aptitude and God-given talent for dance took her next to study at the Lauridsen Ballet Center as well as the San Francisco Ballet School. She then moved onto the American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive program on full scholarship and was declared the ABT’s National Coca-Cola Scholar in 2000. Misty then joined ABT’s Studio Company in September of 2000 and would later move to be a member of the corps de ballet in April 2001 eventually being designated a soloist in August 2007. Her early roles in her career included Kitri in Don Quixote, the Sugar Plum Fairy and Clara in The Nutcracker before moving onto more mature roles. Those include her roles within the company including Gamzatti, a Shade and the lead D’Jampe in La Bayadere and Milkmaid in The Bright Stream. Ms. Copeland was also the recipient of the 2008 Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts.
Since becoming a soloist she has continued to be described as having matured into a more contemporary and modern sophisticated dancer. While Misty is just the third African-American female to achieve the honor of being soloist for one of the three leading classical ballet companies, she has handled it with aplomb despite cultural and racial pressures that have come along with the title. Misty is currently working on a line of dance wear and clothing lines called “M by Misty” that is geared towards curvy shaped girls and plus-sized women. She has also produced celebrity calendars (including her own) and has recently been seeking publication of two books; one a memoir of her life and the other an illustrated book for youths. Her latest work was starring in The Firebird choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California. Misty can now be seen in a new series of ads by the soft drink giant Dr. Pepper.