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Friday, 19 September 2014

Ballet Star Misty Copeland On Breaking Barriers and Her Rise to The Top

Ballet star Misty Copeland was told she had the wrong body type for classical ballet: too short, too curvy. Her lines were all wrong. The color of her skin stood out too starkly from that of her fellow ballerinas. In her words: "I came from a San Pedro, California, family that didn't always have enough food to eat, let alone money to spend on a hobby, and it wasn't until I was 13 years old that I could even take my first ballet class."

Most of her dance peers had grown up immersed in the art of ballet, putting on their first tutus not long after they learned to talk. They had summered in Europe, while I didn't get my first passport until I was 17 she said. Their families had weekend homes. I had spent part of my adolescence living on the floor of a shabby motel with my single mom. But Misty did not all of this deter her, she kept dancing and proved the doubters wrong. The former ballet prodigy, now 31, has become the first African-American soloist at the American Ballet Theatre in 20 years and has role of Odette/Odile in the company’s Australian production of “Swan Lake.”

She has also become a New York Times best-selling author, her memoir, Life In Motion, was released in March. Copeland is keen on nurturing the next generation with her new children’s book Firebird, which tells the story of a young girl who battles self-doubt to reach amazing heights. On breaking boundaries in "Swan Lake": "There's just something about that ballet that people just — you envision this very pale Russian extremely tall woman as the swan. And typically people don't see African-American women as ballerinas because they don't think that we're soft and feminine and sylph-like. They see us as very powerful and aggressive. And so I want to have the opportunity to prove them wrong."



On how dance helped during her difficult upbringing: "I really enjoyed moving to music. That was kind of an escape for me just throughout my childhood." On her hit viral ad: "I think so many people can relate to it, not just as a dancer within the ballet world, but just feeling different, feeling like you don't fit in." And on the sweet taste of success: "I am living my dream. And it's surreal every day. I just try to take it one step at a time."

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