What's one of the most important differences between ballet dancers and "normal" athletes? Misty Copeland says it best: "We're working like professional athletes are, and most of those athletes have state-of-the-art buildings and the environment they're in is very high end. We don't get the same funding and things like that as professional athletes and teams. So it's difficult."
If you need a heartwarming bit of news today, look no further. American Ballet Theatre principal (and idol of budding ballerinas everywhere) Misty Copeland stopped by The Steve Harvey Show the other day to surprise a group of young ballerinas, and the result is giving us #allthefeels.
Would you like to absolutely drown in beauty today? Yes? Of course you would. And we've got just the video for you: "Now More Than Ever," created by Ezra Hurwitz for the Ballet Across America festival, which is currently underway in D.C. The four-minute fantasia features American Ballet Theatre stars Isabella Boylston, Stella Abrera, James Whiteside, Marcelo Gomes and Calvin Royall III performing ravishing bits of choreography in, on and around the historic Kennedy Center.
I can't say I'd ever heard of Smithsonian magazine before a few days ago, but let me tell you now, guys: I am SO GLAD they exist. Because their latest issue brings us tons of wisdom straight from the mouth of one Misty Copeland—you might have heard of her?
This week's #FridayFire goes out to the one and only Misty Copeland. Video of a very young Misty performing on pointe after just ONE YEAR of training has surfaced, thanks to one Gary Junken.
Team Barbie has been on a roll recently, amirite? After giving us Barbie dolls in several different, closer-to-real-life shapes back in January, this morning Mattel introduced a doll that dance fans can really get behind: the Misty Copeland Barbie.
This isn't just a run-of-the-mill Barbie in a ballet costume. Copeland herself was apparently very much involved in the doll's design, helping Mattel create a new "ballerina body" in her own likeness. (Including, it should be noted, pretty nice feet—though no doll is going to live up to Misty's incredible real-life physique.) The Barbie's fashion was even inspired by Copeland's costume for the title role in Alexei Ratmansky's Firebird, one of her first principal parts.
Misty and mini-Misty (and one gorgeous engagement ring) (photo via Mattel, Inc)
Copeland appeared on "Good Morning America" today, accompanied by some very cute baby ballerinas, to announce the new Barbie. (She also spent a few moments paying tribute to Prince, who counted her among his special muses, and talking about her Jason Wu dress for tonight's Met Gala.) Watch the clip here:
One is American Ballet Theatre's first African American female principal; the other is the United States' first African American president. Obviously, Misty Copeland and Barack Obama are incredible role models. But it turns out these two leaders have even more in common than you might think. (And no, we're not just talking about the fact that Obama also has pretty impressive dance skills...although, fair point.)
Recently, Time magazine—which named Copeland and Obama two of its Most Influential People in 2015—had the pair sit down for a candid interview with reporter Maya Rhodan. As Rhodan pointed out, both were born into multiracial families, both were raised by single mothers and both have risen to the top of their respective fields. And that was the jumping-off point for a convo that ranged from how race has affected their careers to body issues in the ballet world to basketball star Steph Curry.
It wasn't all super-serious! (screenshot from Time.com)
Unsurprisingly, the eternally poised Copeland held her own with the leader of the free world—and Obama, eloquent as usual, showed off a pretty decent knowledge of the ballet scene, too. (He's probably picked up a few pointers from Copeland since appointing her to the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition back in 2014.) Here are a couple of dance-related highlights from their discussion:
Barack Obama: "You know, as the father of two daughters, one of the things I’m always looking for are strong women who are out there who are breaking barriers and doing great stuff. And Misty’s a great example of that. Somebody who has entered a field that’s very competitive, where the assumptions are that she may not belong. And through sheer force of will and determination and incredible talent and hard work she was able to arrive at the pinnacle of her field."
Misty Copeland: "I think that having a platform and having a voice to be seen by people beyond the classical ballet world has really been my power...It’s allowed me to say, it’s okay to have a healthy athletic body. We are fully capable of doing everything that the person who doesn’t have an extremely athletic body, that is more thin. We’re fully capable of doing exactly the same thing....And it’s I think forcing a lot of these top tier companies to address the lack of diversity and diversifying the bodies that we’re seeing in classical ballet."
Watch the whole interview here:
Copeland photographed for Pointe by Nathan Sayers
Let's make it official: Misty Copeland has the most insanely diverse resumé of pretty much any dancer around.
First African-American female principal at American Ballet Theatre? Check. Star of a huge national ad campaign? Check. Author of a best-selling autobiography? Check. Subject of a documentary film? Check. Muse to a pop icon? Check. Darling of the late-night TV circuit? Check and check.
Oh, and I almost forgot: Producer of a network TV show? CHECK.
Or, um, YES big deal, actually. Because the show that Copeland just signed on to produce? It's a scripted drama for FOX, created in collaboration with on-the-rise writer Tracy Oliver. It's going to follow a group of cool young dancers competing for spots in a top-echelon ballet company. It is, basically, "Glee" meets "Bunheads" meets Misty—a seriously winning combo. And its network television platform means it's sure to get a LOT of attention. (That is, assuming the script makes it to production, which is still an "if"—cross your fingers and toes.)
There's a cool backstory, too: According to Deadline, Oliver has been all about Copeland since she first heard her story a couple of years ago. (Oliver has a background in the performing arts herself.) She ended up cold calling Copeland and pitching her the TV show idea—and Copeland agreed to do it on the spot. Misty Copeland: She knows a great idea when she hears it.
We'll obviously keep you posted as we hear more!