Dancer Misty Copeland Has Broken Barriers To Bring Ballet Center Stage

Source: Maureen Callahan / New York Post

When Misty Copeland was discovered at age 13 by a ballet instructor at her local Boys & Girls Club in San Pedro, Calif., she was so poor that she’d never seen a ballet, heard of ballet or knew what a ballerina looked like. She spent part of her teen years living in a single motel room with her mother and five siblings, hungry and afraid and just trying to make the hours-long commute to and from school each day.

“I had no introduction to the arts in any way — definitely not the fine arts,” she says. “Survival was our Number 1 priority, not extracurriculars, or a career. These were not things we thought about.”

Today, at 30 years old, Misty Copeland is the first black female in two decades to be a soloist at the American Ballet Theatre. This week, she stars in the Met’s production of “Le Corsaire,” just eight months after suffering a nearly career-ending injury. She has danced with Prince, become an advocate for opening up ballet to minorities and the underprivileged and has come to represent the future of ballet in America: more modern, inclusive, elastic.

She’s always been a fighter, and as hard as it is for her to revisit certain parts of her life — more than once during this interview, she visibly fought back tears — she feels compelled to share her story.

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