During the month of February LivingCivil has been honoring figures in the industry who have made a great impact on society. The world of ballet has shifted greatly by recognizing our next honoree, the new face of theater, African American dancer, Misty Copeland.
Misty’s passion for the art of dance started at the tender age of 13 and continued to develop into womanhood. While she faced a tumultuous childhood dealing with custody battles between her mother and adoptive ballet instructors, Misty’s love for ballet never diminished. The aspiring dancer used the art as an escape, which immensely fueled her fire.
Struggles didn’t only come from her personal family life. Ballet is a world-known style, but it greatly inhabited by Europeans. Misty was one of many girls who have experienced being rejected for certain opportunities because of the color of her skin. The theater was so critical on her, that she was often told to paint her skin to better match the complexions of the other dancers. However, that was something the bi-racial ballerina was not willing to do.
Little did she know, all of these challenges would help her chasse her way to become the first African American principle dancer of the 75-year-old American Ballet Theater.
Fast forward to today and Misty has been the role model for aspiring dancers everywhere. She was named one of Glamour’s Women of the Year, as well as one of ESPN’s most influencial athletes. What makes her journey even more amazing is her memoir, Life In Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, where she shamelessly talked about all of her life struggles. Through this and her children’s book, Firebird, Misty Copeland encourages empowerment for all youth of color and to never be ashamed of where you come from.
Happy Black History Month, Misty Copeland!