Misty Copeland is an aberration. While most ballet dancers are trained from as early as 4 or 5, this 30-year old didn’t get her start until turning 13. Within four years of training, the virtuoso was accepted into the prestigious American Ballet Theater, one of the country’s leading ballet companies. Today, she is the ABT’s female soloist, the third African American to do so in over twenty years.
The ballerina will document her inspiring story with two books. According to publishers Simon & Schuster and G.P. Putnam’s Son Books one will describe the battle between Copeland’s mother and ballet instructors overshadowing her hard work. The second will be a picture book for younger readers working toward a future in ballet.
In a recent interview with Ebony, Misty talked about the lack of black soloists in the ballet world:
“Unfortunately, I think that many Black dancers are intimidated because they see that there haven’t been many who have made it successfully and they’re being told [by instructors] that it’s going to be such a struggle [to be a Black ballerina] and it’ll be easier for you to be a modern or contemporary or hip hop dancer. I mentor 7 and 8 year-old dancers and they’ve been told straight out that they can’t be a successful ballet dancer because they’re Black. I get so emotional when I see these struggles they are having. That’s why it’s so important for me to be a positive role model for them and to be a voice telling them, ‘Don’t give up!’”
Photo Credit: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images