Succeeding is no easy feat. Breaking stereotypes calls for great resilience. And defying the odds is sometimes near impossible. But, Misty Copeland has miraculously accomplished all three.
It was fate that Copeland became the first African-American female soloist in the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) in more than two decades. In an interview with Emily Cronin from Net-A-Porter.com, Copeland stated firmly, “I was born to dance.”
Though she knew she was destined to become a dancer at an early age, Copeland was far from the world of classical music, silk pointe shoes, and colorful tutus. In fact, it didn’t seem that being a dancer was even conceivable for Copeland, who spent her childhood with a family of five in one motel room. However, destiny prevailed.
Her late entry into ballet at the age of 13, did not stop her from earning professional status in an unprecedented amount of time. Unlike most of her colleagues, Copeland began her study of ballet at the nonprofit organization, Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Copeland’s natural talent burned brightly and earned her a scholarship to study ballet full time.
At the age of 30, seventeen years later, Copeland found herself at the pinnacle of her career in ballet as a soloist. However, Copeland’s trials of courage and strength were far from over. She suffered a career-threatening triple-stress facture to her shin, but, nevertheless, bounced back bravely. After her setback, Copeland mesmerized her audience in the ABT’s productions of Don Quixote, Le Corsaire, Romeo and Juliet, Sylvia and Sleeping Beauty.
Despite her unearthly beauty and talent, Copeland’s journey is still not an easy one. Copeland’s beautiful athletic and curvaceous figure is largely at odds with more traditional ideas of how a ballerina should look. Her defying body-type has not deterred her from obtaining celebrity status as a ballerina; her gorgeous, muscular frame actually has won her many admirers in the fashion and music industries. One of her fans is the father of street-style photography, Bill Cunningham. Copeland has also entered the fashion scene through a spread in the ballet themed issue of the CR Fashion Book. She even admits to being quite the fashionista and rattles off a lengthy list of top designers including Rag & Bone, Christian Louboutin, Diane von Furstenberg, Helmut Lang, and McQueen in an interview with Net-A-Porter.
As I stare at a picture of Misty Copeland in a diaphanous, jeweled-embellished, black tulle Marchesa dress gloriously flexing her well-defined calf, I have no doubt that she was born to be a dancer.