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Nia McBride
History 8B
3 March 2016
Misty Copeland
Picture a ballerina in a tutu and pointe shoes.What does she look like? Most will
picture a petite, little dancer with a perfect bun and light skin. Misty Copeland has changed that
stereotype for everyone. She quickly rose to the top as a dancer and is now the first AfricanAmerican principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre in its 75-year history. But it wasnt
easy, it took hard work, dedication, and many amazing people to push her on her way. She started
in gym clothes, dancing on a basketball court in the local boys and girls club and became role
model for many people of all races.
Born on September 10, 1982, in Kansas City, Missouri, Misty Danielle Copeland was the
fourth of six children. She was a shy, quiet child while her siblings were all fighting for attention
from their mother. Their mother was trying hard to provide for all of her children. They
constantly moved as her mother switched boyfriends and husbands. To get over her home life,
Misty tried to be perfect at school. Misty attended Dana Middle School where her life was about
to change, for once for the better. Misty wanted to follow her older sister Ericas footsteps and
join the drill team.Two days later, Misty showed up for the first tryouts in her life. She performed
her routine and went home nervous. Not only did she make the team, she was named the captain.
Though she didnt really fit in with the other girls on the team it was obvious she was captain.
The only other place Misty felt comfortable was at the San Pedro Boys and Girls Club. One
day, knowing Misty attended the Boys and Girls club, Elizabeth Cantine, her drill team coach,

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suggested Misty began taking ballet lessons at the Boys and Girls club with one of her friends,
Cindy Bradley, who was the instructor.
Misty told Cindy she felt uncomfortable dancing because not only did she have no
experience but she didnt have the money for leotards, tights and shoes. Cindy told her she would
be perfectly fine practicing in her gym clothes she wore for drill team. Eventually, Cindy invited
Misty to her ballet school with a full scholarship that paid not only for class but also for attire.
Her mother loved the idea so she began to take classes five days a week.Misty began taking
ballet at the age of thirteen while most start when they are in preschool. At home, there were
problems and money was tight, so the family of six along with another husband bought two
rooms at the Sunset Inn and lived there. Cindy soon found out that Misty lived at the Sunset Inn
and requested that Mistys mother allow her to stay with her family. Misty would occasionally
visit her family over the weekends, and her mother began to notice changes. It was as if she was
too good for how she was raised.Mom told Misty she was moving back to the Sunset Inn. Cindy
was aware of this but she suggested Misty file an emancipation.This was an issue all over the
news and media is was as if everyone suddenly knew of Mistys private life. Soon the
emancipation was dropped and Misty went back to living with her mother.
At the age of seventeen, decided to audition in New York for the summer intensive
program at the American Ballet Theatre, one of the biggest ballet companies in America. This
meant she would have to leave home only a year after she dropped the emancipation.She did
well in the intensive program and was invited to join the ABT studio company. This was an
incredible opportunity for someone who had no professional experience. The studio company
included six girls and six boys who trained, danced and performed together. This was one of the
first times she realized she was the only black dancer in the studio.

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Soon ABT took its toll on Misty.She was told she needed to lengthen or in other words
lose weight. She spiraled into a depression where sometimes she felt as if the company needed to
accept her as she was, so she began to eat even more than usual sometimes indulging in an entire
box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, other times she responded by undereating. On top of all of this
she began experiencing pain related to stress fractures in her shin. Although she was in pain she
continued to dance throughout her pain.
Then she was cast for the most important roles of her career. She was cast as the title role
in Firebird. Misty Copeland was the first African-American to ever be cast as Firebird. But she
was only becoming more injured.Soon after she performed Firebird she had to have surgery on
her shin for she now had six stress fractures.After her surgeries she had to work her way back up
to her place at ABT but all of her hard work paid off. June 30, 2015 Misty Copeland was
promoted to a principal dancer making her the first African-American Principal dancer at ABT.
She hasnt disappeared she is part of Barack Obamas Council on Fitness, Sports, and
Nutrition. Misty was also recently on Broadway in the play On the Town.She is part of the I
Will What I Want campaign for Under Armour.Her Under Armor commercial now has over 8
million views on Youtube.She was a judge on So You Think You Can Dance and wrote two
books one a memoir called Life In Motion the other a children's book named Firebird. Firebird
was read at the 2015 White House Easter Egg Roll. She continues to engage in her career in
ballet through it all.
Misty Copeland can teach us not to let our circumstances set our possibilities. She also
teaches that we should work until you can no longer be ignored. Even someone who had a poor
childhood can grow up to be an inspiration to people everywhere. America needs more examples
like Misty to stop the stereotypes.

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1) Kay, Lauren. "Misty Copeland Breaks Ground at American Ballet Theatre." 15 June 2012. Web.16 Feb. 2016.
2) Copeland, Misty, and Charisse Jones. Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina. New
York: Touchstone, 2014. Print.
3) King, Susan. "'A Ballerina's Tale' Documentary Raises Profile of ABT's Misty
Copeland." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 21 Oct. 2015. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.
4) Press, The Associated. "Who Is Misty Copeland? American Ballet Theatre's First
Black Principal Dancer Made 'Swan Lake' Debut." 3 July 2015. Web. 19 Feb.
5) Editors. "Misty Copeland Biography." A&E Networks

Television. Web. 28 Feb. 2016.

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