Copeland’s un­likely star­dom

The Week (US) - - 10 News -

Misty Copeland is “the most fa­mous bal­le­rina in Amer­ica,” said Will Pavia in The Times (U.K.). It’s an un­likely achieve­ment for a 36-year-old black woman in a genre that de­mands a cer­tain con­form­ity. Even more im­prob­a­ble is Copeland’s suc­cess af­ter grow­ing up in a poor fam­ily in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. Her mother di­vorced three times, even­tu­ally set­tling in a mo­tel where Copeland and three sib­lings shared a room. Danc­ing never crossed her mind. “I just thought I was ugly and too skinny,” she says. “My hands were so big, and my feet were so big. My legs were too long. And then when I went into the bal­let world, it was lit­er­ally ev­ery­thing you should have to be a bal­le­rina.” She took lessons and at 13 was dis­cov­ered by an in­struc­tor. “My body just kind of went into po­si­tions. I don’t know where it came from.” She didn’t get her first lead role un­til 29, and danced de­spite hav­ing six frac­tures in her shin­bone. “When you come on stage and you feel the ex­cite­ment of the au­di­ence,” she says, “it’s so easy to be re­moved from your body. It was in­sane just to have half of the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Opera House full of brown peo­ple. We’d never seen any­thing like it.”

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