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By Phyllis Hurd, Content Editor, Technology
On September 10, 1982, the principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre (ABT) was born into a family of three older siblings. Her journey to stardom had an unlikely beginning.
Copeland didn’t begin studying ballet until she was 13 – despite possessing a name destined for a career in the arts.
Cindy Bradley, who taught a ballet class at a Los Angeles area Boys & Girls Club, remembers feeling intuitively, while putting Copeland’s foot into a tendu pointe, she was discovering an extraordinary dancer.
Much media attention has been devoted to Copeland’s June 30, 2015 promotion to principal dancer with ABT – typically considered the best classical ballet company in the U.S. What hasn’t been a focus is Copeland’s arduous journey to star status.
The dancer’s family moved from a house into a single hotel room in Gardena, California at the beginning of Copeland’s ballet career. The move resulted in a long commute to school and home from ballet practice.
When this routine got too tiresome, Bradley arranged for the teen to spend weekdays at the Bradley’s home. A disagreement between Bradley and Misty’s mother, Sylvia DeLaCerna, resulted in legal actions from Bradley and DeLaCerna over Misty’s living arrangements.
A vertebral fracture shortly after she became a member of American Ballet Theatre’s corps de ballet compounded her struggles.
Copeland's career extends beyond ballet into commercials for Diet Dr. Pepper, Under Armour and Dannon. Dancers typically have short career arcs, rarely dancing past the age of 40. Product endorsements will provide a healthy boost to the ABT soloist’s salary, which probably ranges between $50,000 - $100,000.
Copeland is bent on immersing herself in other performing arts. She spent two weeks in a Broadway revival of “On the Town.” Box office sales jumped 130% during her first week of performances, beginning August 25, 2015.
Copeland took over for fellow ballerina Megan Fairchild while the musical searched for a permanent replacement. Then the New York City Ballet principal dancer left the show to return to the dance company.
Read more about Copeland in her memoir, Life in Motion, available in print.
Cox, G. (2015, August 31). Broadway Box Office: Misty Copeland Drives ‘One the Town’ Up the Chart. Variety. Online.
Manno, O. (2015, July 7). Misty Copeland’s Broadway Debut. Dance Spirit Magazine. Online
Rivka, G. (2014, Sep 22). An unlikely ballerina. The New Yorker, 90, 54-n/a.
Sanneh, K. (2014, Mar 24). Skin in the game. The New Yorker, 90, 48-n/a.
Viagas, R. (2015, July 6). History-Maker Misty Copeland Will Jeté Into the Cast of One the Town. Playbill. Online.