“I am a black woman, and my experiences would not be what they are if I wasn’t. I’m so happy to share those experiences for other people to learn from them.”–Misty Copeland
Today, we celebrate Misty Copeland, the first African American Premiere Ballerina at
the American Ballet Theater, which is our national ballet company. Misty Copeland is a bright point of light for so many young girls across America.
On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to America and he told the nation about his dream.
On July 1, 2015, on the front cover of The Wall Street Journal, there was a picture of Misty Copeland, during a performance of “Swan Lake.” The headline read, “1st African American Premiere Ballerina – Misty Copeland.”
I read the article with great pride, I thought about all those young black girls who dreamed the dream, the dream that Copeland brought to life through her determination, courage, and talent.
On June 30, 2015, Copeland was placed into the history books as the top African American ballet dancer for the 21st century. Today, there are beautiful blue skies for so many young girls to dream big dreams and to know that through hard work, determination and talent their dreams can come true too.
Born in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in San Pedro, California, Copeland began her ballet studies at the age of 13 at the San Pedro City Ballet. At the age of 15, she won first place in the Music Center Spotlight Awards.
She then began her studies at the Lauridsen Ballet Center. Copeland has studied at the San Francisco Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive on a full scholarship and was declared ABT’s National Coca-Cola Scholar in 2000.
“Being the only African American at this level in American Ballet Theater, I feel like people are looking at me, and it’s my responsibility to do whatever I can to provide these opportunities in communities to be able to educate them,” Copeland said.
Copeland received the 2008 Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts and was named National Youth of the Year Ambassador for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in 2013.
In 2014, President Obama appointed Copeland to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. She is the winner of a 2014 Dance Magazine Award.
Copeland is the author of the best-selling memoir, “Life in Motion” and the children’s book, “Firebird.” Her performances with American Ballet Theatre are sponsored by Valentino D. Carlotti.