From my short statue, to the sway in my back, the curve of my feet, it felt as if there was no part of my body that was not under scrutiny. The lack of confidence in dance teachers at such a young age can be crushing! My passion outweighed the doubt and the traditional aesthetic of a dancer. I am so fortunate to have learned about Misty Copeland and her journey to becoming the First African American Principal Dancer with the prestigious American Ballet Theater (ABT). She is the epitome of Black Girl Magic. From her humble beginnings, to her late start dancing, and talent, she motivates me to pursue my passion of dance.
From birth, I had to overcome challenges. The doctors said that I would have developmental delays and physical limitations due to being diagnosed with infantile seizures and bleeding on the brain. I was not supposed to be able to walk or talk, but I proved the medical professionals wrong. Most believed that she could never be a professional ballet dancer, let alone the principal dancer of the prestigious ABT. Misty Copeland is living the life she dreamed of as a young girl and inspires me to fulfill my dreams. Misty’s road to the top of ballet was not easy. One of six children, raised by a single mother, she was living in a motel when she took her first ballet lesson, at the age of 13. Even though many would think this was a disadvantage for Misty, it increased her desire to become a ballerina. Two years later, Misty was under the guardianship of her ballet teacher and was fielding professional offers. She won the Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight Award for Best Dancer in 1997. She was awarded a scholarship for the ABT summer intensive program 2 consecutive years. She then became a member of the ABT Company in 2000 and Corps de Ballet in 2001 and became a soloist in 2007. On June 30, 2015 she made history by being the first African American principal dancer in the 75 year existence of ABT.
Misty takes the time to mentor dancers of color and is an advocate of diversifying ballet. She inspires me to give back to my community. I have volunteered for 2 years teaching young dancers that cannot afford dance. I also minister through dance to women that have been previously incarcerated. Misty Copeland inspires the undefeated. She is truly my SHEro! She gives brown girls hope that if you work hard, your goals are achievable. Misty altered the world’s preconceptions of how the perfect prima ballerina should look. Through her perseverance she shattered those stereotypes! She is not satisfied with being the only African American Principal Dancer, she is breaking barriers and changing mindsets to allow other dancers of colors to become professional ballet dancers. She inspires brown dancers like me with athletic builds and curves to continue to persevere and excel in the dance industry.