The Ballerina Star: Misty Copeland


Misty Copeland is an extraordinary dancer and author who has had a major influence on the dance community. Copeland was born on September 10, 1982, in Kansas City, MO, and was raised in San Pedro, CA with her many siblings. But at the young age of two, her mother left her father to start a new life with her children. During this time, they were constantly on the move and dealt with a lot of financial instability, having to scramble in the crevices to find enough money to put food on the table. Despite these personal challenges, Copeland continued to prioritize her education and in middle school, she joined the drill team which sparked her love for dance.  

Elizabeth Cantine, the coach for the drill team, saw a certain spark and potential in Copeland, so she recommended she attend ballet classes taught by Cynthia Bradley at the Boys and Girls Club. It was at this moment that Copeland experienced her first taste of ballet and started devoting all of her time to the art. After years of training, she ended up pursuing her dream of becoming a professional dancer, but unfortunately, due to the color of her skin, the odds were stacked against her. Copeland’s ethnicity became a constant obstacle for her and prevented her from landing roles she rightfully deserved. In spite of this, she persevered and joined the San Francisco Ballet School and received a full scholarship to attend the American Ballet Theater Summer Intensive. Finally, she had made it to the light at the end of the tunnel. 

In 2015, Copeland became the first African American female principal dancer in American Ballet Theater. She performed many shows including “Firebird,” was the recipient of a 2014 Dance Magazine Award, and in 2015, was named one of the most influential people in the world by Time Magazine. The dancer has inspired many to pursue their dreams and push through their struggles to get there. Furthermore, she also became the author of several books that details her various challenges. She proved that with determination, perseverance, and drive, anything is possible. Copeland says it best when saying, “You can start late, look different, be uncertain, and still succeed.”