Misty Copeland Choreographs Her Own Way

Prima ballerina Misty Copeland on challenging beauty norms and loving yourself as you are.

This show originally broadcast on April 14, 2017. 

Prima ballerina Misty Copeland puts strength and grace together like maybe no prima ballerina in history. She is many things that the traditional image of the leading ballerina is not. She is not waif-like. She is not pale. She did not dance from age four. She is powerfully, athletically strong. African-American. And a latecomer to dance who has danced to the top with extraordinary power and grace. Up next, On Point: We talk with dance powerhouse Misty Copeland. — Tom Ashbrook


Misty Copeland, principal ballerina for the American Ballet Theatre. Author of the new book, “Ballerina Body: Dancing And Eating Your Way To A Leaner, Stronger and More Graceful You.” Also author of “Life In Motion” and “Firebird.” (@mistyonpointe)

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USA Today: Misty Copeland’s best advice for achieving a ‘Ballerina Body’ — “Few people have as much experience with that mental battle as Copeland, 34, the first African-American woman to become a principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre. She broke the mold of lithe, white ballerinas, though it wasn’t easy. It took years to find a combination of exercises, types of food and mental preparation that left her feeling her best self.”

Seattle Times: Misty Copeland talks about food, shyness and her ‘Ballerina Body’ — “Misty Copeland’s remarkable story is the sort you can imagine depicted by a skilled novelist; her life, in the words of a 2015 ’60 Minutes’ report, is ‘the embodiment of the American dream.’ Growing up as one of six children in an often-struggling Southern California family, she lived for some time with her mother and siblings in two rooms in a highwayside motel. At the Boys & Girls Club gym one day, a teacher noticed something distinctive in the tiny, quiet 13-year-old’s movements, and suggested a ballet class.”

 New Yorker: An Unlikely Ballerina — “Copeland is considered an unlikely ballerina: she is curvy and she is black, neither of which is a common attribute in the field. But it is her very late beginning and rapid attainment of virtuosity that are arguably without precedent for a female ballerina. (Rudolf Nureyev had a famously late and chaotic start, his early training having been limited by the vagaries of the post-Second World War Soviet Union.) Many professional ballet dancers begin their training around the age of three. Every dancer is a synthesis of givens—height, limb length, natural turnout—and intense effort, but Copeland’s late start can exaggerate the tendency we might have to regard a ballerina as simply touched by something divine.”

Read An Excerpt Of “Ballerina Body” By Misty Copeland

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