Think you're too (insert adjective here) to step up to the barre? This dancing powerhouse will prove you wrong and inspire you to jeté into action.
Misty Copeland is astounding proof that you don't have to start dancing in diapers to be an accomplished artist and athlete. She began ballet lessons at the "old" age of 13 and about a year later had already begun dancing professionally. Misty also defied the prima ballerina odds by growing up as one of six kids in a single-parent home, sometimes living in motels and getting by on food stamps.
Despite her challenging adolescent years, in 2015, Misty became the first African American female principal dancer at the renowned American Ballet Theatre, showing millions of girls and boys of color that their dreams were not just pies in the sky. That year, she also made it onto TIME's list of the 100 most influential people in the world. The significance of Misty's status as a role model is not lost on her.
"It's so easy for our communities to say, 'I don't like ballet', and that's because there is no real, visceral connection to it," Misty shared at a press conference for Plié for the Arts in Jamaica. "If people come to the theatre and they can see themselves represented, it doesn't matter what the form of dance is, they will feel something ... I think that's kind of what has been missing - in terms of the African-American/black people feeling like they can do it."
Not only is she a ballet superstar, but Misty is also an inspiring force in the philanthropic world, working with charitable organizations like the Boys & Girls Club and the MindLeaps Girls Program and the Misty Copeland Scholarship in Rwanda -- important work which promotes positive youth development as well as diversity in the dance world. Despite being a mentor herself these days, Misty continues to be guided by another groundbreaking ballerina by the name of Raven Wilkinson, the first African American woman to perform with a major touring troupe, the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Although much has changed since the 1950s, Misty and Raven note that there is still much work to be done in ensuring equal access to the arts.
Convinced dance is for everyone, including you? Want to inspire youth in your community to dance their hearts out? The best ballet barre value is right at your (and their) fingertips.
Photo Credit: Under Armour