Misty Copeland

To be empathetic to everyone around you, I think, is such a powerful thing to hold.
Misty Copeland

I think body-image issues are not just a dancer thing. I think we’re much more in tune and aware because the body is our instrument and art, and we stare at ourselves in a mirror all day, but I feel like it’s something that every woman experiences and every girl experiences.
Misty Copeland

I feel like with ‘On the Town,’ it was the perfect production and the perfect opportunity.
Misty Copeland

I feel like going to class every morning is so humbling. You’re always working to improve, and you’re always being critiqued on your next performance. It’s not about what you’ve done. There’s always room to grow.
Misty Copeland

I don’t feel like my life is that of a superstar! Every day I wake up, I take the train, I go to my ballet class. My everyday life is pretty normal.
Misty Copeland

‘The Firebird’ just symbolizes a lot for me and my career. It was one of the first really big principal roles that I was ever given an opportunity to dance with American Ballet Theatre, and it was a huge step for the African-American community, I think, within the classical ballet world.
Misty Copeland

It’s hard to be the one that stands out when, you know, in a ballet company, you’re trying to create unison and uniform when you’re in a corps de ballet.
Misty Copeland

When people meet me in person, they’re usually surprised at how petite I am because there’s this idea that because I’m black, I just look a certain way.
Misty Copeland

Depending on the level you’re at in your company, the higher you go up in rank, usually the longer you can dance.
Misty Copeland

I think that having a platform and having a voice to be seen by people beyond the classical ballet world has really been my power, I feel.
Misty Copeland

That something that I fought so hard for throughout the beginning of my career is I didn’t want to pancake my skin a lighter color to fit into the… ballet. I wanted to be myself. I didn’t want to have to wear makeup that made my nose look thinner.
Misty Copeland

Being the only African American at this level in American Ballet Theater, I feel like people are looking at me, and it’s my responsibility for me to do whatever I can to provide these opportunities in communities to be able to educate them.
Misty Copeland

It’s a European art form, and you’re used to seeing a certain type of person as a ballerina. And I don’t look like a lot of the girls around me.
Misty Copeland

I love heels. I’m 5-foot-2, and I like feeling tall.
Misty Copeland

Something happens when you feel that energy and excitement from the audience. And you do, I don’t know, four pirouettes. You jump higher than you ever have. And it’s just this really magical thing that happens in those moments.
Misty Copeland

My first ballet class was on a basketball court. I’m in my gym clothes and my socks trying to do this thing called ballet. I didn’t know anything about it.
Misty Copeland

There are no taking days off. There are no distractions. If I had that, I physically wouldn’t be capable of going onstage and performing live theater. It’s extremely demanding. I have to be in ballet class every day.
Misty Copeland

Being in ballet class, being on the stage, being surrounded by my peers at American Ballet Theater every day, keeps me so humble and grounded. Being in ballet class, I feel, is like this meditation for me every morning.
Misty Copeland

40 years old is about the time a principal dancer would start to think about retirement, but some go on to dance a little bit longer than that.
Misty Copeland

I’ve always approached my career and my life, you know, one day at a time, as if this was the last day that I’m going, because you never know as an athlete and as a dancer. You never know what can happen today, tomorrow.
Misty Copeland

I wanted to open the dialogue about race in ballet and bring more people in. It’s just beautiful to see the interest that has exploded for such an incredible art form that I will forever be grateful to!
Misty Copeland

All you can do is be your best self. I’ve always felt that I had to be that much more aware of how I present myself. I’m representing more than just me. I think every person should think that way.
Misty Copeland

Barack Obama being President of the United States doesn’t mean racism has disappeared. It’s all a process, and we have to be aware that the work never ends.
Misty Copeland

What you put into your body is just as important as how hard you dance. I believe with the right training and an understanding of how to take care of your body, you can mold it to be whatever you want it to be.
Misty Copeland

Ballet was so structured. I’d been craving something that could guide me.
Misty Copeland

As a child, I had been told that I was exactly what a ballerina should be.
Misty Copeland

I had some really incredible people who mentored me and gave me things I never got from my parents.
Misty Copeland

Every time I dance, I’m trying to prove myself to myself.
Misty Copeland

Whenever there was chaos in my house, whether it was arguing, being in a cramped space with all of us kids and screaming, I found an empty space where I could just put music on and move.
Misty Copeland

Ballet found me, I guess you could say. I was discovered by a teacher in middle school. I always danced my whole life. I never had any training, never was exposed to seeing dance, but I always had something inside of me. I would love to choreograph and dance around.
Misty Copeland

Finding great training, I think, is number one. I did a lot of research and found really great teachers, and it just takes – I took a year off from school and did independent studies so that I could devote all of my time to it. But I think that training is the key, definitely, and it’s not a sport.
Misty Copeland

When I was younger, my feet would hurt a lot, but you build up calluses and strength, and you don’t feel as much pain there. But then again, it’s a give and take. The older you get, you may feel pain in your back or your hips.
Misty Copeland

I’ve gotten nothing but warmth from the Black community and positive feedback.
Misty Copeland

Though I have tremendous support from lots of people, there are so many others waiting to tear me down.
Misty Copeland

I want to bring awareness to the lack of diversity in ballet, and feel like that’s a large part of my purpose.
Misty Copeland

My childhood is a part of my story, and it’s why I’m who I am today and why my career is what it is.
Misty Copeland

I don’t eat a ton of pasta or bread. But I eat dessert almost every night, and I drink. You need a bit of balance, and I’ve found mine.
Misty Copeland

It’s all so surreal, and I’m living my dream. And you know, principal or not, I’m getting to dance all the roles that I’ve dreamed of doing.
Misty Copeland

I think American Ballet Theatre is setting that standard now for classical ballet, that you can dream big, and it doesn’t matter what you look like, where you come from, what your background is.
Misty Copeland

I say over and over again that I am just standing on the shoulders of so many who have set this path for me, and they may not be seen or recognized or have been given an opportunity to have a voice, but I’m here representing all of those dancers. Dance Theatre of Harlem Virginia Johnson, Tai Jimenez, Lauren Anderson.
Misty Copeland

I was the first person in my family who was ever interested in dance, or fine art of any kind for that matter – I came from a very humble beginning in San Pedro, California.
Misty Copeland

My family didn’t have very much money, so ballet wasn’t even on my radar; I just found it randomly when I was 13 at a Boys & Girls Club. We were practicing in a basketball court in gym clothes with some old socks on. Even though it terrified me at first, I found that I really liked it.
Misty Copeland

When I was 16, I moved to Torrance, California to train at a more advanced studio, and by 19, I joined the American Ballet Theatre in New York. It all happened so fast – it was pretty unheard of that someone could train for so few years and become a professional at one of the most elite dance companies in the United States.
Misty Copeland

Finding ballet gave me passion for the first time in my life. I was always very shy and just wanted to fit in; I never daydreamed about what I wanted to be when I grew up. But dancing gave me a connection to my personality that made me grow.
Misty Copeland

Ballet became this escape for me. I feel like I was on my own a lot. I was searching for stability, so I was going off on my own and imagining what I thought stability was. Ballet became a way for me to cope.
Misty Copeland

If the rhythm or beat of the music changes with a live orchestra, you have to think on your feet. If you feel like you are not on your leg, you have to make a decision to make it look as though nothing is going wrong.
Misty Copeland

There are hundreds of stories I’ve heard from black women from my generation, generations before me, and the next, that have never been given an opportunity to fulfill their dreams.
Misty Copeland

Dance kind of was always just a part of my natural state as a child. It’s something that, whenever music was playing, I was dancing.
Misty Copeland

I didn’t want to be the best at anything; I just wanted to blend in. And that was kind of my existence throughout my family experiences at home of just kind of blending in in the background through my other siblings, which was easy to do.
Misty Copeland

I was definitely a late bloomer and didn’t really come into my own until I was probably in my 20s.
Misty Copeland

I want the ballet world to be given the respect that it deserves and to be seen by more people – for so many to experience the beauty that I’ve received from the ballet world.
Misty Copeland

When I was a little girl, I was incredibly shy. My hope was to blend in, to fit in, to not be noticed in any significant way. I was deeply insecure and unsure of myself.
Misty Copeland

Most ballerinas take their first ballet class when they are 5 or 6 years old. I was 13 when I took mine on the basketball court of the San Pedro Boys & Girls Club in California.
Misty Copeland

I didn’t care how much work it would take, and I didn’t see the time invested as a waste or like I was missing out on anything. Ballet became my ultimate passion.
Misty Copeland

More often than we realize, people see in us what we don’t see in ourselves.
Misty Copeland

When it came to my childhood – growing up in a single-parent home, often struggling financially – my mother definitely instilled in me and my siblings this strength, this will, to just continue to survive and succeed.
Misty Copeland

Perseverance has always just been something that was in me. And it was a tool that came in very handy as a ballerina.
Misty Copeland

Being one of the few African American women to make it to this level in a classical ballet company, the level of American Ballet Theatre, takes a lot of perseverance.
Misty Copeland

Once you become a professional, to get through a ballet like ‘Swan Lake’ – four acts as the lead, changing character – the perseverance is incredible. It takes a lot to make it through and keep the same energy throughout the entire performance.
Misty Copeland

I think all dancers are control freaks a bit. We just want to be in control of ourselves and our bodies. That’s just what the ballet structure, I think, kind of puts inside of you.
Misty Copeland

If I’m put in a situation where I am not really sure what’s going to happen, it can be overwhelming. I get a bit anxious.
Misty Copeland

Before dance came into my life, I don’t really remember having any major goals or dreams of wanting to be anything.
Misty Copeland

Ballet was this thing that just felt so innate in me, like I was meant to be doing this.
Misty Copeland

I wake up every morning, and I go to ballet class no matter what’s going on the night before. That’s my priority, and that’s what makes me feel sane and not removed from the realities of my world.
Misty Copeland

I would have young dancers come to me and ask me questions and want to know what my experiences were like: ‘What’s it like being a black dancer?’ So I just felt like it was necessary for me to share my experiences with them.
Misty Copeland

It’s going to take a while before we see a real shift in the students and the dancers that are going into professional companies because it takes so many years of training, but I do think that there’s a new crop of dancers, of minority dancers that are entering into the ballet world.
Misty Copeland

At least in my performances, the audience has become so diverse in a way that I don’t think ballet has ever experienced.
Misty Copeland

I had always been proud of my body – its strength and grace enabled me to pursue my passions.
Misty Copeland

I grew up poor in San Pedro, California, sleeping on the floor of shady motels with my five siblings and not always sure when or where I’d get my next meal.
Misty Copeland

I never thought of myself as special or particularly good at anything. But once I started ballet, suddenly I had a new identity: prodigy.
Misty Copeland

My curves became an integral part of who I am as a dancer, not something I needed to lose to become one.
Misty Copeland

Finding ballet was like finding this missing piece of myself.
Misty Copeland

In the ballet studio, it was such an organized and disciplined environment, like I’d never had in my life. Seeing myself in the mirror, surrounded by the classical music, that’s when I started to fall in love with dance.
Misty Copeland

I was on a path. I was going to become a principal dancer. I never let my mind rest.
Misty Copeland

Be strong, be fearless, be beautiful. And believe that anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.
Misty Copeland

When I was dancing, I felt in control and happy. I’m a Virgo, so I really like to be in control.
Misty Copeland

I think I get almost every piece of clothing that I buy altered and taken in just to fit me exactly the way it should.
Misty Copeland

I have the opportunity, which most people don’t experience nearly as much, of being in front of a mirror up to 10 hours a day. Staring at your body, you really get to know every little detail of how to make yourself look your best.
Misty Copeland

I traced the marley floor with my pointe shoes, and imagine myself on the stage, not as a member of the corps, but as a principal dancer. It felt right. It felt like a promise. Some day, somehow, it was going to happen for me.
Misty Copeland

The ballet world I don’t think is an art form that is quick to change or to adjust or evolve.
Misty Copeland

It’s weird for minorities even just to buy tickets to the ballet. We feel like it’s not a part of our lives and we’re not a part of that world.
Misty Copeland

It’s hard to change someone’s ideas when they might not even really consciously know that they’re being racist, or have racist ideas, just because ballet has been this way for hundreds of years.
Misty Copeland

I am a black woman, and my experiences would not be what they are if I wasn’t. I’m so happy to share those experiences for other people to be able to learn from them.
Misty Copeland

I know that I’m talented, and I know that I’m not in American Ballet Theater because I’m black – I’m here because I’m a gifted dancer.
Misty Copeland

Every time I step onto the stage, it’s not only proving to the audience that I’m capable but to myself.
Misty Copeland

You have to be the one promoting yourself. If you don’t think that you’re worthy, you’re never going to make it.
Misty Copeland

My favorite role of all? Whatever I’m working on in the moment.
Misty Copeland

I don’t want to be anything else other than a ballerina. I love what I do outside of my work, but at the end of the day, I have to sacrifice.
Misty Copeland

A young girl reached out to me to be her mentor one day, which I didn’t really know anything about. What I did remember was what it was to be alone as an African-American dancer in the ballet world and wanting to connect with someone who looks like me.
Misty Copeland

I think, as a child, there weren’t dreams. I can’t recall as a child having some ultimate dream and thinking that it was possible.
Misty Copeland

I was seventeen when I moved to New York. I was nineteen when I joined the main company. I was going through a lot. Just becoming an adult and just wanting to fit in, be accepted, and be in common with the other dancers.
Misty Copeland

I think that the ideal physique and look of a ballerina is always changing with different eras. And it’s continuing to change.
Misty Copeland

The classical ballet world is so exclusive and small, and a lot of people don’t know about it.
Misty Copeland

Growing up, I was surrounded by R&B and Hip-Hop, and the closest thing I could find to dance was gymnastics which I watched on TV. So, I just used those avenues I found available right in my milieu to express what was inside of me.
Misty Copeland

‘The Company’ was interesting. I didn’t love it, although it might be compelling to someone who isn’t a dancer. There wasn’t a lot of dialogue, and you were just kind of observing the creative process of choreography and in class.
Misty Copeland

I’m definitely influenced by the music. We dance to music, and you have to listen to it and phrase your dancing and movement in a certain way to compliment the music. We have to work hand in hand, the dancer and the music.
Misty Copeland

I think I’m pretty laid back. I like cooking, being at home, and going to concerts. And I love to shop!
Misty Copeland

Don’t hold on to the barre like, ‘I might die.’ It’s just ballet.
Misty Copeland

I think most people think of ballerinas as kind of either as a fairytale, far-away thing that’s really not attainable, something they can’t grasp, or they think of them as European or Russian and kind of their nose up in the air. So, it’s cool for me to, like, sit with them and for them to really see themselves as me.
Misty Copeland

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