New York, NY June 2015 – Ballet and fitness icon Misty Copeland graces the cover of Heart&Soul’s June/July Issue. Heart & Soul’s Editor-in-Chief, Anita Kopacz, expressed her elation at having the trailblazing ballerina on their cover and in an in-depth article about her journey to be a prima ballerina. “Misty took our breath away with her revealing interview.
Misty is only the third African American soloist in the history of the American Ballet Theatre, and the first to secure a major endorsement deal with a brand like Under Armour. She bravely shares with us how she overcame major obstacles to secure her place as a trailblazer.”
n a riveting, revealing article entitled “Ain’t I A Dancer?” by Shannon M. Houston, Misty’s journey is compared to the famed woman’s rights activist, Sojourner Truth, who asked a bold, but rhetorical question in 1865: “Ain’t I a woman?”
At first glance, it may seem that a former slave and an acclaimed ballet dancer would have nothing in common. But as Misty Copeland describes her journey to the American Ballet Theatre, it’s clear that in 2015, trailblazers like herself are still working against a system that rigidly defines and limits both the attributes of a woman, and the capabilities of the black and underprivileged.
Misty shares some jewels for young ballerinas striving to overcome obstacles in this Heart & Soul article:
“The decision my teachers made to not highlight my circumstances is what allowed me to improve as quickly as I did,” Copeland explains. Instead of focusing on the myriad reasons she would not succeed (she was 13 when she started dancing, and her family was living in poverty), teachers like Cynthia Bradley at the Boys & Girls Club offered only encouragement. “I didn’t feel like I had any boundaries,” she says. The young dancer was also “craving” to be pushed, because she desperately wanted to get better. Now at age 32, she’s come into her own, and says she’s no longer just imitating other greats; she is dancing like herself.
On reacting to the overt body shaming she has experienced in the industry:
“Whenever they say [my] race does not have the right body type, it just sounds so crazy and ignorant,” she exclaims. “Every race has varying body types, but I think it’s possible to take a body— and I’ve seen this happen—a body that people say is not built for ballet, and shape it by taking ballet classes. That’s what it’s there for—to shape and mold your muscles! That’s what I’ve done,” she says, proudly. “I’ve done my best to fit into what my body is capable of, and what makes sense for my body to fit into the ballet world.”
Copeland also dishes on her inspiring friendship with Prince:
“It was definitely like this perfect storm when we met,” she says, somewhat breathlessly. “I was complacent, and wondering if I was right for the ballet world. He allowed me to see what I could be.” Copeland adds that Prince works incredibly hard on stage, but “when he’s off, he just lets it all go, and he’s in the moment.”
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