Misty Copeland was the fourth of six siblings. Her mom had gone through some troubled relationships and was living in a small hotel with the children while they attended school. At age 13, Misty started taking a ballet class at the local Boys and Girls Club after a school teacher noticed her natural talent. There she met a ballet teacher who invited her to attend class at a ballet school.
She started dancing very late as far as professional dancers go, but she worked hard and she had a lot of talent. Many people told her she was too short at 5 foot 2. That she had the wrong body for ballet. Yet in 2015 she became the first African American woman to be named a principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre, which has been around for 75 years. That same year, she was also named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People and President Barack Obama appointed her as a member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.
Misty said, “I was the only black woman in a company of 80 plus dancers for a decade. I felt like I didn’t belong. I heard I wasn’t right for the company. I wasn’t right for ballet. My skin was too dark. I was too muscular. My bust was too big.”
But one day she thought to herself, “I realized that my body is my instrument. It’s up to me. I have the control and the power to make it whatever I want it to be. That was a huge thing for me. It was a powerful thing, too.”
Misty never gave up and she made her wildest dreams come true. She beat the odds. She didn’t listen to those who said it wasn’t possible.
As William Shakespeare once said, “Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.”
No one makes it to the top of the mountain without falling down. Without wondering whether they should turn around as the climb is too tough. We should all remember that it takes hard work to get there and we need to continue to put one foot in front of the other. And always dance like there is no one watching.
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