Misty Copeland: Bringing Ballet Back to the Limelight

From the ballet Coppelia

Photo By Gilda N. Squire (Gildasquire) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

As I pedaled through my workout on the bike at the gym, the television caught my eye when I glimpsed a tutu and pointe shoes on the nightly news. Ballet’s presence in pop culture’s spotlight is rare and fleeting. However, occasionally, the ballet world sneaks into the day’s top headlines. I was thrilled to see Misty Copeland’s smiling face lighting up the screen, and the news banner announced her most recent triumph. On June 30, shining star Misty Copeland continued her rise to mainstream fame with the announcement of her promotion to principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre. Not only is she now ranked as a leading performer, Copeland is the company’s first black female dancer to achieve this commendable status.

At age thirteen, Copeland began her training at San Pedro City Ballet and continued to Lauridsen Ballet Center and Francisco Ballet School. She found her home with American Ballet Theatre after attending their summer intensive and joining the junior company in 2000. The following year, she joined the professional company as a corps de ballet member. Six years later, Copeland became a soloist. After her most recent promotion last Wednesday, Copeland is now one of the leading stars of the company.

I hope to see Copeland perform live someday, but until then, I’m amazed as I watch her online videos. Her technique, enhanced by her stunning facility and musicality, is remarkably stunning. Her athletic musculature adds an unstoppable power to her grace, making her a surreal yet dynamic ballerina. Most compelling is her expressive face, which draws the audience in with undeniably pure joy.

As her stunning dancing propelled her higher through the company ranks, it also attracted the attention of those outside of the ballet world. Her television and magazine appearances have nearly made her a household name, a rarity for professional ballet dancers. Most recently, she graced the cover of Time Magazine and was featured as one the publication’s “100 most influential people.”

Her genuine, down-to-earth personality attracts a dedicated fan base, and she serves as a role model for countless young women, whether dancers or not. As she continues to grace the stages of the Met, surely her popularity will continue to soar, and her dancing will continue to make history for years to come.

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