Misty Copeland made an impact in the world of ballet due to her grace and triumph over childhood trauma. She was born in Kansas City, Missouri to a mother with four other needy children. Due to the instability of her mother, scrounging and strategically stretching every bit of food became second nature to the Copeland children. Despite the family’s instability and the chaos between four other children, Misty always strove for perfection whether she was doing gymnastics or ballet. Her determined spirit would be fundamental to her future success.
At first, Misty aspired to be a gymnast like the famous female gymnast Nadia Comaneci. Through gymnastics, Misty found her passion for decorative movement that would wash away her troubles like a waterfall. Her moves were so graceful, her school’s Drill dance team’s instructor recommended her to attend ballet classes at the Boys and Girls Club in San Pedro, California. During the basic ballet classes, the instructor, Cindy Bradley, noticed great potential in her. Mrs. Bradley later offered to cover all of Misty’s training costs if she came to study at the San Pedro Dance Center. With reluctance, Misty started taking ballet lessons and discovered stability she never knew. Quickly and swiftly she improved, going on pointe within three months of her first ballet class.
However, her quick improvement required great sacrifice. She went to classes five times a week and performed often. Her mother worried greatly and told Misty she would have to quit ballet. Devastated, Misty reluctantly obeyed her mother. However, Mrs. Bradley believed in her little prodigy so much that she persuaded Misty’s mother to let her daughter stay among the Bradley household in order to commute to and from the studio. This decision would bring Misty closer to the Bradleys and her dream of becoming a professional ballerina. Unfortunately, her mother detested the move of her daughter, and her resentment towards the Bradleys grew. During Misty’s time with the Bradleys, her artistic voice was heard. She got accepted to numerous ballet summer intensives on full scholarships and also won first place at the Music Center’s Spotlight Awards in Los Angeles, California. But most importantly, however, she discovered the American Ballet Theatre Company through watching ballet productions with the Bradleys. Despite her joyous time with the Bradleys, Misty’s mother uprooted her from the stability offered to her.
Once again, Misty’s mother argued that Misty needed to spend more time with her family and that her daughter was spending way too much time studying ballet. Mrs. Bradley was anxious to keep Misty on the right track and asked if she wanted to be emancipated from her mother. Misty decided to put ballet first and agreed to begin the process of emancipation. However, it resulted in a court fight about who would obtain the custody of Misty and led to restrained connection with the Bradleys for many years. Nonetheless, Misty realized her mistake of putting her passion before her family. She changed her perspective by looking through her mother’s eyes and obtained the blessings that come from obedience as stated in Ephesians 6:1-3, which states, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother – which is the first commandment with promise – so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
Of course, Misty still held onto her dream, so she auditioned for the American Ballet Theatre’s summer intensive. She got accepted on a full scholarship. In the summer intensive, she shone like a star and was offered a spot in the company’s Studio Company. Misty accepted the offer after finishing high school and began a new chapter in her life.
Since her acceptance into the American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company, numerous doors were opened for Misty. For example, she got the opportunity to perform with Prince, the renowned music artist, and even starred in one of his music videos. She also made a tremendous step in history in 2007 by becoming the first African American soloist in the history of the American Ballet Theatre in twenty years. Furthermore, in 2012 she was honored by being recognized into the Boys and Girls Club Hall of Fame. Above all, Misty Copeland accomplished her dream by being the first black woman to become a principal dancer in ABT’s history in 2015. Thus, Misty Copeland not only made her childhood dream come true but also paved the road for all dancers of different backgrounds to pursue their dreams.
“Ephesians 6:1-3”. Bible Hub, New International Version, Biblica Incorporated, http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+46%3A10&version=NIV.
Copeland, Misty. Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina. Simon& Schuster, 2014.
Levitt, Danielle. Photograph of Misty Copeland. The Guardian, 7 Nov.2018, http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2018/nov/07/misty-copeland-interview-ballet-broken-disney-nutcracker-prince-obama.
Ziv, Stav. Misty Copeland’s Historic Rise to Principal. Newsweek, Newsweek, 6 Apr. 2016, http://www.newsweek.com/misty-copeland-historic-rise-principal-348822.