January 14, 2015 | D<o kick start our new segment INSPIRED – focusing on people in the arts world who we personally look up to – we bring your attention to the hugely talented dancer, Misty Copeland.
Misty is ‘an unlikely ballerina’ for the American Ballet Theatre. She has paved the way for the younger generation of dancers who face challenges in the dance world, when told they’re not the right shape to become professional dancers.
In her published book titled Life In Motion, dedicated to her fellow aspiring dancers, she writes: “To all ballerinas and dancers of the world, Our art is vital. Let’s keep it alive, growing and expanding.”
Today, she is known as a successful ballet dancer, who has overcome racism and body shame throughout her career, but the journey has resulted in an incredible reality.
“I was a little brown-skinned girl in a sea of whiteness,” said Misty, as she recalls her early years of training. “I was 19 years old and had just been promoted to American Ballet Theatre’s corps de ballet.
“The corps is an integral part of a dance company, the base that helps to weave the balletic tale. But for most ballerinas the goal is to soar beyond it, to stand out enough to get a featured part, and hopefully, one day, become a principal – that small band of stars.”
She goes on to say: “I still worry, far more than I should, about what the ballet world thinks of me – whether I will ever be accepted and seen as a well-rounded artist deserving of respect.
“Or will I forever be ‘the black ballerina’, an oddity who doesn’t quite compare? But in my moments of clarity I envision all people whose lives have been touched by my story, who upon seeing my journey know that you can start late, look different, be uncertain and still succeed.
“I’ve come so far from the first ballet class I took at age 13 in my baggy gym clothes at the Boys & Girls club. I know that by being here now, in this rarefied, difficult, elitist, beautiful world, I have made my mark on history and ballet.
“I will forever fight, performing like it’s my last show. And I will love every minute of it.”
You can buy Misty’s book, Life In Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, online now.
Photo Credit: Teen Vogue