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How Old Was Misty Copeland When She Started Ballet How Old Was Misty Copeland When She Started Ballet


How Old Was Misty Copeland When She Started Ballet

Written by: Kissee Vickers

Discover when Misty Copeland began her dance journey in ballet. Learn about her age and early start in the captivating world of dance.

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Ballet is a graceful and captivating art form that has enchanted audiences for centuries. From the precise technique to the breathtaking performances, ballet requires incredible discipline, strength, and artistry. One of the remarkable talents that has emerged in the ballet world is Misty Copeland.

As one of the most recognized and celebrated ballerinas of our time, Misty Copeland has shattered stereotypes and pushed boundaries in the world of ballet. But how old was she when she first started her journey into this captivating art form?

In this article, we will delve into the early life of Misty Copeland, her initial exposure to ballet, the challenges she faced during her training, her recognition and breakthrough, as well as her ongoing career and achievements. We will also explore the impact she has had on the ballet community and her lasting legacy.

Join us as we uncover the incredible story of Misty Copeland and her inspiring journey in the world of ballet.


Early Life and Inspiration

Misty Copeland was born on September 10, 1982, in Kansas City, Missouri. She was raised in a single-parent household by her mother, Sylvia DelaCerna. Growing up in a challenging environment, young Misty found solace and inspiration in various forms of artistic expression.

At the age of seven, Misty Copeland was introduced to ballet through a free ballet class offered at her local Boys & Girls Club. This encounter proved to be life-changing, as it ignited a passion within her and opened up a whole new world of possibilities. Copeland fell in love with the beauty and grace of ballet and quickly displayed immense talent.

Misty’s initial exposure to ballet was a transformative moment in her life. As a young girl of African-American descent, she found herself standing out in a predominantly white and elite art form. Nevertheless, Misty persisted, fueled by her incredible drive and determination.

As she immersed herself in the world of ballet, Misty Copeland drew inspiration from the legendary ballerina, Raven Wilkinson. Wilkinson, one of the first African-American ballerinas to dance with a major ballet company, became a role model and mentor to Misty. Seeing someone who looked like her excel in the ballet world gave Copeland the belief that she, too, could achieve great things.

Additionally, Misty found inspiration in the music and movements of ballet. The ethereal melodies and the fluidity of the dancers spoke to her soul, and she felt a deep connection to the art form. This inspiration served as a driving force behind her relentless pursuit of excellence in ballet.

With her supportive mother by her side, Misty Copeland’s early life was marked by dedication, passion, and the unwavering belief in her abilities. These formative years laid the foundation for her extraordinary journey to come in the world of ballet.


Initial Exposure to Ballet

Misty Copeland’s first taste of ballet came at the age of seven when she attended a free ballet class offered at her local Boys & Girls Club in San Pedro, California. Little did she know that this would be the beginning of her journey towards becoming a trailblazing ballerina.

From the moment Misty stepped into that ballet class, she was captivated by the elegance, discipline, and beauty of the art form. The gracefulness of the dancers, the precise movements, and the enchanting music all captivated her young mind and sparked a deep passion within her.

Despite being a relative latecomer to ballet compared to her peers, Misty quickly displayed an extraordinary talent and natural aptitude for the art. She possessed a remarkable ability to pick up the techniques and movements with ease, impressing her instructors and fellow dancers.

Recognizing her potential, Misty’s instructors encouraged her to pursue formal training. She began taking classes at the San Pedro Dance Center, where her talent continued to flourish. Her passion for ballet grew stronger with each passing day, and she dedicated herself to honing her craft.

Misty’s early exposure to ballet also came with its fair share of challenges. As an African-American girl in a predominantly white and elitist ballet world, she faced numerous obstacles and instances of discrimination. However, Misty’s determination and unmatched drive propelled her forward, refusing to let anything hinder her dreams.

As Misty Copeland’s talent and passion for ballet continued to shine, it became evident that she was destined for extraordinary things in the world of dance. Her initial exposure to ballet set her on a path that would lead to groundbreaking achievements and a lasting impact on the ballet community.


Formal Training and Challenges

After her initial exposure to ballet, Misty Copeland embarked on a path of formal training to further develop her skills and pursue her dreams. At the age of 13, she moved to San Francisco to join the San Francisco Ballet’s summer intensive program, a prestigious opportunity that provided her with invaluable training and exposure to professional ballet.

Under the guidance of esteemed instructors, Misty Copeland made remarkable progress and soon caught the attention of professionals in the ballet world. In 2000, at the age of 17, she joined the American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company, a stepping stone to joining the main company as a professional dancer.

However, Misty’s journey was not without challenges. Being a latecomer to ballet and a woman of color, she faced discrimination and systemic barriers within the ballet industry. Many ballet companies held rigid and outdated notions of what a ballerina should look like, making it difficult for Misty to break through the glass ceiling.

Despite these obstacles, Misty Copeland refused to be deterred. She used every setback as fuel to further prove herself and break down barriers. She committed herself to countless hours of practice, pushing her physical and mental limits to excel in her craft.

Misty’s perseverance and extraordinary talent garnered attention and support from influential figures in the ballet world. Encouraged by her mentors, she continued to rise through the ranks of the American Ballet Theatre, eventually becoming their first African-American female principal dancer in 2015, a groundbreaking achievement that made history.

Throughout her career, Misty faced not only external challenges but also internal ones. Ballet demands rigorous physicality and an unwavering commitment to perfection. Misty had to overcome injuries and the pressure to conform to the traditional ballet standards while staying true to her authentic self.

Misty Copeland’s journey serves as a reminder that resilience, perseverance, and relentless determination can triumph over any obstacle. Through her dedication and undeniable talent, she has not only redefined the world of ballet but has also inspired countless individuals to pursue their passions relentlessly, regardless of societal expectations or limitations.


Recognition and Breakthrough

Misty Copeland’s talent and determination did not go unnoticed. Her exceptional skill and groundbreaking achievements in the ballet world quickly garnered recognition and acclaim from both the dance community and the public at large.

In 2007, Misty received the prestigious Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts, which provided her with the opportunity to further expand her artistic horizons and refine her craft. This recognition affirmed her outstanding talent and dedication in the ballet world.

However, it was in 2012 that Misty’s career took a significant leap forward. She became a soloist with the American Ballet Theatre, a position that showcased her immense capabilities as a dancer and solidified her status as a rising star.

Misty’s breakthrough into the mainstream spotlight came in 2014 with her powerful performance in the lead role of “Firebird.” Her mesmerizing portrayal captivated audiences and critics, solidifying her as one of the most dynamic and electrifying ballerinas of her generation.

Not only did Misty Copeland excel as a dancer, but she also used her platform to advocate for diversity and inclusivity in the ballet world. She passionately spoke out about the need for representation and worked tirelessly to break down the barriers that had historically excluded underrepresented communities from professional ballet.

Misty’s impact extended beyond the stage. She became a role model and inspiration for aspiring dancers, particularly young girls of color who were able to see in Misty a reflection of themselves, showing them that they too could achieve greatness in the world of ballet.

Her incredible talent and trailblazing spirit earned her numerous accolades and honors, including being named one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2015. Misty Copeland’s recognition and breakthrough not only transformed the ballet industry but also left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of people around the world.


Career and Achievements

Misty Copeland’s career in ballet has been nothing short of extraordinary. From her early beginnings to her groundbreaking achievements, she has left an indelible mark on the ballet world and has become an icon of perseverance and artistry.

As a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, Misty has graced some of the most renowned stages in the world, captivating audiences with her impeccable technique and emotive performances. Her repertoire spans a wide range of classical and contemporary ballets, showcasing her versatility and mastery of the art form.

Misty has taken on iconic roles such as Odette/Odile in “Swan Lake,” Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet,” and Kitri in “Don Quixote,” each performance leaving a lasting impression on both her peers and adoring fans.

In addition to her remarkable stage career, Misty Copeland has also ventured into other artistic endeavors. She has collaborated with world-renowned choreographers, performed with prestigious companies around the world, and even made appearances in music videos and television shows.

Recognition and accolades have followed Misty throughout her career. She has been honored with numerous awards, including the prestigious Princess Grace Award and the Dance Magazine Award. These accolades not only reflect her exceptional talent but also acknowledge her dedication to pushing boundaries and expanding the art of ballet.

Misty’s commitment to breaking down barriers in the ballet world has extended beyond her own performances. She has actively worked to foster diversity and inclusivity in dance through her involvement in outreach programs and initiatives.

Through her best-selling memoir, “Life in Motion,” and her children’s book, “Bunheads,” Misty has inspired countless individuals, young and old, to dream big and embrace their unique journey. Her impact extends far beyond the stage, as she continues to be a vocal advocate for representation and equal opportunities in the arts.

Misty Copeland’s career and achievements have left an indelible mark on the ballet world. With her artistic brilliance, remarkable achievements, and unwavering commitment to inclusivity, she has become an inspiration and a beacon of hope for aspiring dancers around the world.


Impact and Legacy

Misty Copeland’s impact on the ballet world and her lasting legacy cannot be overstated. Through her remarkable talent, resilience, and advocacy, she has shattered stereotypes, opened doors, and paved the way for a new generation of dancers.

One of Misty’s most significant contributions has been her unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion in ballet. She has used her platform to challenge the traditional notions of what a ballerina should look like, advocating for representation and breaking down the barriers that have excluded underrepresented communities from the art form.

Her success as an African-American woman in the ballet world has inspired countless individuals who had previously felt excluded or discouraged from pursuing their dreams. Misty’s journey has shown aspiring dancers that with determination, perseverance, and talent, anything is possible.

Not only has Misty made a significant impact within the ballet community, but she has also reached a wider audience and brought ballet to new audiences. Her captivating performances, engaging personality, and commitment to making ballet accessible have helped to break down the perception of ballet as an elitist art form, making it more inclusive and relatable to people from all walks of life.

Misty Copeland’s impact is not limited to her role as a performer. She has become a role model and an inspiration for children and adults alike, demonstrating that passion, hard work, and self-belief can overcome any obstacle. Her memoir, “Life in Motion,” has touched the lives of many, inspiring them to pursue their own passions and embrace their unique journey.

Furthermore, Misty’s legacy will continue to shape the future of ballet. The doors she has opened and the conversations she has sparked about inclusiveness and equality in the arts will have a profound and lasting impact on the ballet world for generations to come.

Her accomplishments and breakthroughs have forever changed the landscape of ballet, leaving a powerful legacy of breaking barriers, inspiring change, and redefining what it means to be a successful ballerina. Through her talent, determination, and advocacy, Misty Copeland has become an icon and an inspiration, leaving an indelible imprint on the hearts and minds of people around the world.



Misty Copeland’s journey in the world of ballet is a testament to the power of passion, perseverance, and breaking barriers. From her humble beginnings to becoming one of the most recognized and influential ballerinas of our time, Misty’s story is one of inspiration and resilience.

Starting ballet at a later age, Misty faced challenges and discrimination that tested her resolve. However, her unwavering dedication and extraordinary talent propelled her forward, leading to groundbreaking achievements and a lasting impact on the ballet community.

Through her remarkable career, Misty Copeland has defied stereotypes and shattered glass ceilings, becoming the first African-American female principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre. Her success has not only broken down barriers but has also provided a beacon of hope and inspiration for aspiring dancers from underrepresented communities.

Beyond her exceptional talent, Misty’s impact extends beyond the stage. As an advocate for diversity and inclusion, she has used her platform to champion change in the ballet world and beyond. Her efforts have resonated with people of all backgrounds, inspiring individuals to embrace their uniqueness and strive for their dreams.

Misty Copeland’s legacy is not only her groundbreaking achievements but also the transformation she has brought to the ballet community. She has challenged the norms, pushed for inclusivity, and sparked important conversations about representation and equal opportunities in the arts.

As Misty’s career continues to flourish, her impact and influence will undoubtedly leave a lasting legacy. Her commitment to breaking barriers and uplifting others serves as a powerful reminder that resilience, determination, and a passion for one’s craft can truly change the world.

In conclusion, Misty Copeland’s journey in ballet is an inspiration to all. With her exceptional talent, relentless drive, and commitment to diversity, she has not only redefined the standards of ballet but has also become a symbol of empowerment and possibility. Misty’s legacy will continue to inspire generations of dancers, reminding them that they have the power to transcend boundaries and make their dreams a reality.

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