Misty Copeland Speaks About Being a Black Ballerina [Video MashUp]

Acclaimed ballerina Misty Copeland joins Diane [Rehm] to talk about her remarkable career and how she is challenging physical stereotypes that she says keeps ballet stuck in the past.

Video courtesy of The Diane Rehm channel on YouTube.

“It took me a while to understand that I was alone.” – Misty Copeland

“I think that it was the way my mother raised me, it wasn’t something that I was aware that I was going to be viewed by the world as a black woman. She made that very clear to me and my siblings even though we are bi-racial. I never really felt like I was the only black one, not even in my ballet class from a young age.

But once I became a professional it actually was brought to my attention by an adult. And that’s when I stepped back and thought: “Wow, this is a little bit strange, to be the only black woman in a company of eighty dancers.” And for a decade I was. I just went through times where I felt extremely alone. I was going through puberty and you join a company when your 17 years old. And you really wanto to feel accepted and you want to connect with people.”

Misty Copeland Speaks About Being a Black Ballerina

If you prefer to listen to the interview, click here. Or click on the video below for the full interview.

In this interview Misty talks about her childhood.

“I was born in Kansas City, Missouri and moved to the Los Angeles area in California when I was 2 years old. My mother raised us 6 kids pretty much on her own. By the time I was 13 years old, my mom had been divorced already a couple of times and we moved around quite a bit. But all of us kids were together and that was what we were used to. We really held on to eacher other and supported each other.

I was very shy as a child and it was easy to stay that way when there are so many kids wanting the attention of my mother.Fun and happy times. I was the one in the background.  I was just existing, trying to survive in school without being noticed.

By the time I was in middle school and highschool we weren’t changing schools, we where just traveling a lot to stay in the same school.

By the time I was 13 years old, which was when I started to take ballet classes, we were living in a motel. It was probably the most difficult time for my mother.

I was already a member of the Boys and Girls Club in San Pedro, California where I was attending school. So when my mother was working that’s where all my siblings went.”

Video from Diane Rehm’s YouTube channel. Thank you to The DR Show!

Misty Copeland Speaks About Being a Black Ballerina

“Being a black ballerina definitely is everything. I absolutely love classical ballet.”

Thanks to Simon & Schuster for sharing this lovely video!

The Diane Rehm Show is a live, two-hour daily news magazine program focusing on politics and current affairs. Visit her site and see more videos of Misty here.

Misty Copeland Speaks About Being a Black Ballerina

CBS Sunday Morning shared this video to YouTube. Thanks!

At 9 a.m., riding the subways of New York, Misty Copeland is just a face in the crowd. At work it’s very different. The only african american soloist with the American Ballet Theatre, Copeland has the lead in it’s production of The Nutcracker at the Brooklyn Academy of Music this week.

At 32, Misty Copeland is ballet’s first break-through star in decades. She’s featured in this ad for Under Armour. She’s danced with Prince on tour, written a best-selling autobiography and is developing a new TV show. This photo shoot was for Amtrack’s magazine.

The exposure helps her mission: to be a cover girl for a new kind of ballet.

Copeland is an unlikely ballerina. One of six kids, she had an itinerant childhood in California as her mother married and remarried four times. Dancing was her escape.

At 13 a teacher recommended she take ballet classes at the local Boys and Girls Club in San Pedro. Less than two years later, she entered her first competition at the L.A. Music Center and won it.

But Copeland, who had moved in with her dance teachers, Cindy and Patrick Bradley, to get more intensive training, soon found herself in the middle of a public custody dispute with her mother who wanted her to come home.

At 18, she moved to New York to join the world renowned American Ballet Theatre. She thought about quitting the company, but couldn’t.

Like Raven Wilkenson, who posed with her at the Amtrack shoot, Copeland first saw her in a documentrary about the Ballets Russes,  Wilkenson had toured with the company in the U.S. in the fifties until threats in the south made her leave for Holland.

Raven saw hope in Misty, but they didn’t meet until a few years ago.

In April of 2012, Copeland’s big breakthrough came when she was given the lead in Stravinsky’s Firebird. Her picture went up on the fascade of the Metropolitan Opera. But in rehearsals she was feeling pains in her shin which turned out to be six stress fractures in her left tibia.

She won rave reviews. And after recovering, performed the principal role in Swan Lake with ABT in Australia this past summer.

All that eludes Misty Copeland now is the title of principal dancer. She would be the first african american female ever at the American Ballet Theatre.

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