timeline

born 1982

Ballet found Misty Copeland at age 13 during a free course at a San Pedro Boys & Girls Club. She may have had a late + unlikely start, but Misty was a natural. She was en pointe after only 3 months, performing professionally after only a year. Two decades of relentless sweat, training + determination later, she has become a world-renowned soloist. And, the first African-American principal dancer in the 75-year history of New York's American Ballet Theater.

She has danced leading roles in everything from Firebird to Swan Lake and taken her toe shoes everywhere from the Broadway stage to a Prince live tour. With each artful pirouette + arabesque, Misty has also furthered the mission that has made her a media darling...to redefine beauty and make her unlikely path accessible to more dreamers. Now a best-selling + award-winning author who has graced TIME's list of most influential people, this prima ballerina is keeping the ballet world on its toes.

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Misty Copeland (9)

"You can start late, look different, be uncertain, and still succeed."

Life in Motion | march 2014

"I was a dancer just like you, a dreaming shooting star of a girl with work and worlds ahead."

Firebird | october 2014

"The beauty of dance is being a part of something that is all you, from creation to performance."

Firebird | october 2014

"You hold the power of your instrument. That instrument comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. That instrument is your body, soul and heart. That instrument is you and me."

Firebird | october 2014

"I didn't understand the big picture at all; I just jumped into something that gave me a different life."

How Misty Copeland Beat the Ballet Odds | november 2014

"You have to know the appropriate way to adorn each story and character with your body . . . Otherwise you aren’t a ballerina—you’re just another dancer."

Life in Motion | december 2014

"There are no shortcuts in ballet, no way to skip steps."

Life in Motion | december 2014

"Ballet...something pure in this crazy world."

Misty Copeland: Power and Grace | july 2015

"I was born to move."

Misty Copeland: Power and Grace | july 2015
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curated with care by Alicia Williamson