Interview: ABT Soloist Misty Copeland

ABT soloist Misty CopelandEmily Bennington, Contributor at Forbes interviewed ABT soloist Misty Copeland on what it takes to be a successful ballerina.

If there’s a common thread that runs through both leadership and ballet, it’s that it takes a lot of work to make it look easy. No one knows this better than superstar ballerina Misty Copeland.

When Copeland was promoted to soloist for the American Ballet Theatre in New York City, the first African-American to achieve that honor in over two decades, it was a goal she literally spent half her life pursuing.

As the ABT gears up for the spring performance season, Copeland took some time to chat with me about the legendary discipline of dancers, going on the road with Prince, and what it takes to get your “edge” back.

ABT soloist Misty Copeland

Bennington briefly chats with Ms. Copeland. Here are 2 of the 5 questions from her interview:

Now that you’re part of the company, what is your schedule like these days?

Training now is very different. It’s a lot repetition so you practice until you don’t have to think about it anymore. I take a 1.5 hour ballet class every morning and then start rehearsals at noon. Typically, we go until 7pm at night five days a week in rehearsal season. During performance season, we are the the theatre from 11am to 11pm rehearsing and performing six days a week.

You were in the corps (i.e. a non-soloist) for seven years before being promoted. As anyone waiting for “their turn” at work can attest, this can often feel like an eternity. I think it’s interesting that ABT’s artistic director Kevin McKenzie said you moved up when he saw “an edge that wasn’t there before.” What do you think he meant by that?

When I started at ABT I had so many different distractions that I lacked the focus I needed at the time. On one hand, when I moved to New York I soaked up every wonderful thing about this city I could and I’m grateful for that now because I have so much more to pull from in my roles.

On the other hand, there’s definitely a point where you have to decide whether you’re going to be a professional or not and once I realized how much was at stake and how much focus it really took, I got serious again. Kevin had a lot to do with that actually.

Ballet is an extremely difficult job and it takes a lot out of you physically, but it’s just as much about mental discipline. Some people don’t last because they don’t have it in them. But to move up, you have to have that focus and you have to love what you do. There’s no way you could do this if you didn’t.

To read the remaining 3 questions and her incredible story of rising to soloist at ABT follow the article here.

The story of ABT soloist Misty Copeland is so inspiring we just had to share it with our readers. Personally, reading stories like this one reminds me why I’ve chosen ballet as a career and it gives me fuel to continue to dance and teach.

From the young Misty Copeland to the ballerina she is becoming, following this rising star is a must.

Did you enjoy this article? If so, please share with friends and family. Who knows, there might be an aspiring ballerina who will read this and follow her dream! Simply click the “Share” button at the end of this post.

Watch a short video of her dancing here.

Image source: Vimeo video excerpt.

About Romy Macias, Senior Editor

Romy danced with the Ballet Clasico de Queretaro Fernando Jhones for 10 years having reached 1st soloist position. She presently takes on character roles and teaches at the company's junior academy. This site is a testament to her passion for classical ballet. You're invited to be part of our community and join in the joy for this amazing art form.


  1. Kathy says:

    Love the pod-cast!
    I enjoy reviewing your blogs, Thanks so much.

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