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Misty Copeland

The First African American Female Principal Dancer with American Ballet Theatre

When she discovered ballet, Misty Copeland was living in a motel room, struggling with her five siblings for a place to sleep on the floor. A true prodigy, she was dancing en pointe within three months of taking her first dance class and performing professionally in just over a year: a feat unheard of for any classical dancer. In her powerful and inspiring speeches, Misty describes her accomplishments with an all-encompassing approach, touching upon her life story, social justice, and giving back. She leaves audiences with hope, inspiration, and a truly unforgettable experience.

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Misty Copeland is a Principal Dancer with American Ballet Theatre, the first Black woman to be promoted to the position in the company’s 75-year history in 2015. She has performed some of the most iconic classical ballet roles, including Odette/Odile in Swan Lake; Juliet in Romeo & Juliet; Giselle; Manon; Coppelia; Kitri in Don Quixote; and Firebird, to name a few.

Misty has been featured in several publications, including the cover of Time Magazine for the Time 100, as well as the covers of ESSENCE, Self, ELLE South Africa, Oxygen and Women’s Health. She has also appeared on CBS’ 60 Minutes, CBS Sunday Morning, ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s The Today Show and the talent show Little Big Shotscelebrating extraordinary young people.

She made her first awards season guest performances in 2019 with Taylor Swift at the American Music Awards and at the 2020 Grammy Awards alongside Camilla Cabello, Common, Ben Platt, and dancers from the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, as well as the televised Prince Grammy Tribute performing with award-winning recording artist H.E.R. Misty made her Broadway debut in On the Town in 2015 and her major motion picture debut in Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms in 2018.

Misty started her own production company called Life in Motion Productions and completed her first project, Flower, in October 2022. Flower is a silent arts activism film using dance to raise awareness about homelessness. She is also featured in an episode of MasterClass, the online series.

Misty is an avid philanthropist and is an ambassador of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, of which she is also an alum. Misty also supports MindLeaps, an arts education program in Rwanda that helps young people get off the streets and into an academic setting to enhance their lives.

Misty Copeland is the author of several New York Times bestsellers, including the memoir, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina; the lifestyle book, Ballerina Body; and the children’s book, Bunheads. She is also the author of the award-winning children’s book, Firebird. Her latest books are Black Ballerinas: My Journey to Our Legacy, which published in November of 2021 and The Wind at My Back: Resilience, Grace, and Other Gifts from My Mentor, Raven Wilkinson, which published in November of 2022.


I really cannot emphasize enough how much Misty’s story has impacted so many in our community. She’s lovely and we’d highly recommend Misty to anyone who is considering her as a speaker.

New Albany Community Foundation

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