Photo by Gregg Delman


Principal, American Ballet Theatre

Born in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in San Pedro, California, Misty Copeland began her ballet studies at the age of 13 at the San Pedro City Ballet. At 15 she won first place in the Music Center Spotlight Awards and began her studies at the Lauridsen Ballet Center. Copeland has studied at the San Francisco Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive on full scholarship and was declared ABT’s National Coca-Cola Scholar in 2000. Copeland joined ABT’s Studio Company in September 2000 and American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in April 2001. She was appointed a Soloist in August 2007 and a Principal Dancer in August 2015. Her roles with the Company include Gamzatti in La Bayadère, a leading role in Birthday Offering, Milkmaid in The Bright Stream, the Fairy Autumn in Ashton’s Cinderella, Blossom in James Kudelka’s Cinderella, Swanilda in Coppélia, Gulnare and an Odalisque in Le Corsaire, Kitri, Mercedes, and Driad Queen in Don Quixote, Duo Concertant, the Masks in Christopher Wheeldon’s VIII, the Firebird in Alexei Ratmansky’s Firebird, Flower Girl in Gaîté Parisienne, the title role in Giselle, Queen of Shemakhan in The Golden Cockerel, the Waltz in Les Sylphides, Lescaut’s Mistress in Manon, Clara the Princess in The Nutcracker, Bianca in Othello, a Gypsy in Petrouchka, the Lead Polovtsian Girl in the Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor, the Saracen Dancer in Raymonda, Cowgirl in Rodeo, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Princess Florine in The Sleeping Beauty, Odette-Odile in Swan Lake, the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, leading roles in Bach Partita, The Brahms-Haydn Variations, and Monotones I and roles in Airs, Amazed in Burning Dreams, Baker’s Dozen, Ballo della Regina, Birthday Offering, Black Tuesday, Brief Fling, Company B, Désir, Gong, Hereafter, In the Upper Room, Overgrown Path, Pretty Good Year, Private Light, Raymonda Divertissements, Sechs Tänze, Sinatra Suite, Sinfonietta, Thirteen Diversions, Within You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison, and workwithinwork.   Copeland created His Loss in AfterEffect, the Spanish Dance in Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, the Fairy Fleur de Farine (Wheat flower) in Ratmansky’s The Sleeping Beauty and leading roles in C to C (Close to Chuck), Dumbarton, Glow – Stop, One of Three and With a Chance of Rain. Copeland received the 2008 Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts and was named National Youth of the Year Ambassador for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in 2013. In 2014, President Obama appointed Copeland to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. She is the winner of a 2014 Dance Magazine Award. Copeland is the author of the bestselling memoir, Life in Motion and the children’s book Firebird. In 2015, she was named to the Time 100 list and honored by Glamour Magazine as one of its Women of the Year.