When Misty became Principal Dancer, that was an incredibly powerful symbol for the entire black community. Here was a woman who is dominating a predominantly white industry and she’s doing it unapologetically. She doesn’t shy away from conversations about race and she doesn’t sugarcoat her struggles. When Misty won it felt like we all won.
Misty Copeland and the CHFIn a few days, Misty Copeland will be making her way to Chicago to headline the Chicago Humanities Festival. During her visit, she’ll discuss her motivational health and fitness book Ballerina Body.
Ahead of her visit, we chatted with the dancer about her evolution and her inspirations. She shares the moment she knew she wanted to be a ballerina. In addition she gladly provides some encouraging words and advice for anyone who has a dream that they wish to fulfill.
The journey certainly gets tough but we have plenty of figures including Misty Copeland who are great examples of success for us all and it was an honor to listen to her words of wisdom.
Unfortunately, her Chicago Humanities appearance is completely sold out but I’m glad to share some nuggets of wisdom I received from her.
Without further ado, let’s explore the inspiration and light of Misty Copeland.
Getting to Know Misty
“Keep pushing and working, try not to compare yourself to others, let your mentors and loved ones help you, know that your extreme hard work will pay off”
TCL: Hi Misty. What would you say are your biggest motivators? What makes you want to get out of bed every morning?
MC: Wanting to be better. My work and my husband motivate me daily. But all the youth looking at me to keep creating this path I’m on so that they can walk it too, are a huge motivation.
TCL: Can you share with us the moment you immediately knew that you wanted to be a ballerina?
MC: It was my first ballet class. It was the first time I felt in control of something in my life. In control of myself. I felt strong and beautiful.
TCL: How would you say the Misty from when you first began as a ballerina has evolved?
MC: I’ve learned to use my talent as a ballerina to voice who I have become as a woman. I feel much more comfortable expressing myself verbally because of all of my experience expressing myself through movement. Ballet has taught me discipline, sacrifice, vulnerability and what it is to be strong but sensitive.
TCL: If you knew then, what you know now, what would you tell your younger self?
MC: I would say to keep pushing and working, try not to compare yourself to others, let your mentors and loved ones help you, know that your extreme hard work will pay off.
Words of Wisdom
“Be vulnerable. It allows for growth and understanding. Allow the people in your life who love and care about you to help guide you”
TCL: What advice would you give others who are facing obstacles on their journey to success?
MC: Be vulnerable. It allows for growth and understanding. Allow the people in your life who love and care about you to help guide you. If you don’t have that, seek it! Keep working and fighting. Everyone experiences hearing the word “no, but you WILL hear a yes when you find where you’re supposed to be, where there is mutual respect.
TCL: What has been the best advice you’ve received and by who?
MC: Not to let other people’s words define me. I was told this by Susan Jaffe, a former principal ballerina with American Ballet Theatre.
TCL: What do you believe are the keys to success?
MC: Hard work, sacrifice, dedication, will, support and belief in yourself.
The Legacy of Misty
TCL: What do you want the legacy of Misty Copeland to be? (50 years from now what do you want people to say or remember about Misty Copeland)
MC: I would like my legacy to be that I was a good dancer who made people see dancers in a different way. I hope to have brought awareness, value and the respect that dancers deserve. I want the conversation of diversity in dance to still be happening and for people to say I helped to shed light on that topic and that growth in that area is immense.
Huge thanks to Misty for agreeing to be a part of this feature! Her book Ballerina Body is out now.