March 25, 2015

Behind The Scenes With Misty Copeland

By Erica R. Hendry

Diane and Misty Copeland after their March 23 interview.

Diane and Misty Copeland after their March 23 interview.

Unlike many of the dancers that now share the stage with her, Misty Copeland didn’t grow up in leotards and tutus.

In fact, she didn’t even own tights when she took her first ballet class at age 13,  in a T-shirt and shorts, in the gymnasium of her local boys and girls club.

Today, she’s one of the world’s most famous ballerinas. As a soloist for the American Ballet Theatre, she, along with Brooklyn Mack, will be the first African Americans to dance the lead roles in Swan Lake.

Getting more diversity on America’s stages is one of the challenges Copeland discussed on our March 23 show.

Some of the other highlights:

On Being Black In The White World Of Ballet

Copeland’s mother told her from an early age that, above anything else, the world would see her as a black woman.

But when she was dancing, Copeland never felt that way — until an adult pointed out what, to most everyone else, was obvious: In a company of 80, she was the only African American dancer.

“It took me a while to understand that I was alone,” she says.

Eating Disorders

Copeland says the problem is “not as rampant” as many people think.

“I have to say, looking around me at American Ballet Theatre, the body type is not that [of a frighteningly thin person] and it’s definitely changing,” she says.

Misty Copeland’s Advice For Young African American Dancers

Miss the interview? Watch the full hour here


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