A Day In the Life of Misty Copeland

In—and out—of the studio with the ABT soloist
Published in the February/March 2012 issue.

Copeland at the barre in company class.

Photos by Jim Lafferty

American Ballet Theatre soloist Misty Copeland imbues her roles with a fierce elegance. Last fall, Pointe trailed her through a busy day of class, rehearsals and a gala evening, and talked to her about some of her latest roles and projects. Copeland was preparing to begin rehearsals for the lead in Alexei Ratmansky’s new version of The Firebird, which ABT premieres in March in Southern California. “I  appreciate the chance to be pushed to the next level,” Copeland says. “I’ve worked for 11 years and feel like it’s finally paying off.” She has stretched herself outside the ballet world as well, performing in music videos and onstage with Prince. But throughout she has maintained her focus on ballet. “Whatever I’m doing and whatever jobs I decide to take, I want people to see that ballet is my priority,” she explains. “Being a black woman in my field, and starting at 13, I think a lot of people relate to my story. So I want to be a role model and always represent myself in a positive light.”

Copeland plans to launch a dancewear line, M by Misty, that features her designs, like the blue leotard she wears below in a La Bayadère rehearsal with principal Gillian Murphy. “It’s been hard to find leos that are both supportive and flattering. So much dancewear is not made for a woman with a bustline,” she says. Copeland is preparing the role of Gamzatti. “It’s intense because this character is so rich. She is wealthy, beautiful and confident, but also in a struggle regarding the man she loves. It’s one of my dream roles.”

Waiting on the sidelines; corps member Jose Sebastian is behind Copeland. “The company is a family,” says Copeland. “We spend more time with each other than anyone else, so we’re comfortable chatting about anything—what we’re doing after rehearsal, boy problems.”

Copeland in a Gamzatti rehearsal with ballet mistress Susan Jaffe. “Susan helps you not only to perfect the steps, but also the acting behind them.”

Rehearsing with Jaffe

Perfecting Gamzatti

Wearing one of her own designs in rehearsal with Gillian Murphy

Copeland as fashionista: Sporting a Diane von Furstenberg coat—bought while on tour in Paris with Prince—on her way to the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater gala.

On the red carpet in a Catherine Malandrino dress