Misty Copeland performs in Swan Lake.

Misty Copeland performs in Swan Lake.

Misty Copeland went from a child living in poverty in a motel, to a breakout star in the world of ballet. She discovered her extraordinary talent at the late age of 13, and just four years later, escaped her tumultuous childhood to join the elite American Ballet Theatre. Today, she is the only African American soloist with the company and one of very few black women in the highest ranks of classical ballet nationwide. Now she’s calling for change in an art form she says is still stuck in the past. Ballerina Misty Copeland shares the story of her unlikely rise to stardom, and bringing color to the white world of ballet.


  • Misty Copeland Soloist, American Ballet Theatre. She is the author of a memoir titled "Life in Motion," and the children's book "Firebird," both released last year.

Video: Misty Copeland On Being Black In The Ballet World

Misty 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 said.


Video: Misty Copeland's Advice For Young African American Dancers

Full Video

Photos: Misty Copeland's Rise To Fame

Video: Gala de Ballet "Despertares"

Misty Copeland’s solo in  2012’s Gala de Ballet “Despertares” in Mexico City.

Video: Misty Copeland's "I Will What I Want"

Misty Copeland appeared in an Under Armour campaign last year.

Interview Highlights: Misty Copeland

Behind The Scenes With Misty Copeland - The Diane Rehm Show

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 ballet tights when she took her first ballet class, at age 13, in a T-shirt and gym shorts, in the gymnasium of her local boys and girls club.

Read A Featured Excerpt

Excerpted from “Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina Touchstone” by Misty Copeland. 2014. Reprinted with permission. All Rights Reserved.

Topics + Tags

Most Recent Shows