Misty Copeland's Firebird is a Phoenix

People just can't stop talking about American Ballet Theater soloist Misty Copeland. It's hard not to talk about her: At just 32 years old (happy belated birthday, Misty!), she's transformed herself into a living legend—and a role model for aspiring ballerinas everywhere. Pretty much any dancer (or even young girl, for that matter) who has ever felt that she's just not good enough can find hope and inspiration in Misty's career. She faced rejection head on—for her body type, for the color of her skin, for being a late-starter—and she didn't take "No" for an answer. The slogan in her recent Under Amour commercial sums her up perfectly: "I will what I want."

So it makes complete sense that Misty's next project should be a book for children. (She is a New York Times bestselling author, after all.) Last week marked the release of Firebird—a picture book co-authored by Misty Copeland and writer/illustrator/Caldecott Medalist Christopher Myers.

When Misty danced the title role in Alexei Ratmansky's Firebird in 2012, it was her first big principal part with ABT. So it was a natural choice for the theme of her children's book. To Misty—and to any other dancer who has ever felt boxed out of a world that emphasizes uniformity—the firebird is not unlike a phoenix, rising from the ashes of rejection to show the world its brilliance.

(left) Copeland in Alexei Ratmansky’s Firebird (by Gene Schiavone, courtesy American Ballet Theater); (right) The cover of Firebird, illustrated by Christopher Myers (courtesy Penguin Young Readers Group)

Firebird celebrates optimism—the mentality that you will succeed if you set your mind to it. And we think that's a pretty darn awesome message. (Want to see more? Click here to purchase the book on Amazon, or here to locate your local indie bookstore.)

 

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(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

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Photo by Erin Baiano

Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.

Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."

Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?

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Photo by Erin Baiano

Click here to vote for Emma.

There's a story Kate Walker, director of dance at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, loves to tell about Emma Sutherland, who just graduated from the program. "We were watching the students run a really long, challenging piece," Walker recalls. "Several kids couldn't quite make it through. But Emma did make it all the way to the end, which is when she walked up to us faculty and very politely asked, 'May I please go throw up?' "

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