Insp-her-ation; Misty Copeland Makes History

“You can start late. Look different. Be uncertain. And still succeed.” Misty Copeland once said; and she has definitely succeeded. Misty Copeland is an extraordinary dancer who made history by becoming the first African-American female dancer at the American Ballet Theatre (ABT). She gets her dance skills from her mother, who was a Kansas City Chiefs Cheerleader. She worked hard for her success and never let anything bring her down. Something most people need to remember when they are faced with struggles in life.
Misty began studying Ballet at the age of 13 (which is late for most ballerinas to start dancing) In 1995 she began taking Ballet classes at the local Boys & Girls Club. Her teacher there, seeing her talent, invited her to attend the San Pedro Dance Center. By the time she was 15 she had won first place in the Music Center Spotlight Award. She attended the San Francisco Ballet School as well as ABT’s summer intensives on a full scholarship. In the Summer of 2000 ABT named her the National Coca-Cola Scholar, and in September of that same year she joined their Studio Company. In April of the following year she joined ABT as a member of their corps de ballet. In August 2007 she became the first African-American female soloist, then in June 2015 she made history and became the first African-American principal dancer in ABT history.

Young Misty posing for her performance as Clara in “The Nutcraker”

She didn’t always have it easy though. She is the youngest of 4 children and also has 2 younger half siblings. Her father was not around for most of her life. When she was in middle school, her mother picked up her children and moved them into a motel, and told Misty she could no longer take Ballet lessons. When her Ballet teacher, Cynthia Bradley, heard of this she offered to have Misty move in with her and her family. Misty’s mother, agreed and let Misty move in with Cynthia and her family. After she attended the San Francisco Ballet School’s summer intensive her mother wanted her to move back in with her and stop taking dance lessons. Terrified of that thought, Misty filed an emancipation (which meant that Misty would not have a legal guardian and she would have to take care of herself). When her mother found out, she filed a restraining order against the Bradley family, but because there was no abuse, stalking, or harassment, the restraining order was dropped. Eventually, the emancipation papers were dropped as well.
As you can see Misty didn’t always have it easy. She had to work hard for what she wanted, even if it meant hurting some people she loved. She had to change her way of life. She very easily could have given up and decided to not go live with the Bradley family. She didn’t though because that would have meant ending something she was very passionate about. If you ever feel like giving up just remember Misty’s story. Think about how even when people were knocking her down she stood back up and continued to do what she loves. “Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you can go, just remember how far you have come. Remember everything you have faced, all the battles you have won, and all the fears you have overcome.”

Misty Copeland

Check out the video to watch Misty Copeland giving Jimmy Kimmel and Guillermo a lesson in Ballet!