Describe Your Childhood:
It all started when Misty Copeland was 13 years old. At that time her family stayed in a motel. This included all of her siblings along with her mom. They had to sleep on blankets of the motel room floor. In an interview with Elle Magazine Misty Copeland describes this as the hardest time in her childhood.
How did you deal with the chaos?
I made up for the chaos at home by working double hard at school, but there was still so many feelings of anxiety. I received a break during my childhood through my middle school drill team coach when she notice me dancing. I started later than most ballerina dancers, so I had to practice a whole lot more. My middle school drill team coach called her friend Cynthia Bradley who was a local ballerina teacher, and she came to look at me. I was then invited by Cynthia Bradley to a class she was giving at a a local boys and girls club.
As many elite dancers often do, did you have to move in with your coach Cynthia Bradley?
Well, the first time I was invited to attend Cynthia Bradley's class I was 13 years old. I was wearing a t-shirt and gym shorts which I hated wearing during practice. I fell in love with Mrs. Bradley's class and she gave me slippers and a leotard and it was like I finally fitted in. Ballet was so structured and I had been craving something to guide me. Within 3 months I was dancing en pointe, which is something that takes most ballerinas years to master. And as many elite athletes do, I had to move in with Cynthia Bradley to make it easier to train. I got a different taste of what life could be like, because the lifestyle at Cynthia Bradley house was different than what I was use to when living with my mother. At her home I would eat dinner and then go to sleep in a bed. At first it was like do I deserve this? But, I got comfortable quickly, because they were great to me, however the arrangement didn't last long. As I begin to spend more time away from my family tensions rose between my mom and my teacher Cynthia Bradley.
This is how Cynthia Bradley describes everything...
Misty Copeland's and my relationship began when I noticed Misty at a free ballet class I taught at a girls and boys club. I immediately recognized something really special about her. I touched her foot and placed her body, and she could assimilate what I was giving her immediately. I invited Misty to take classes at my school, the San Pedro Dance Center and she never showed up. I asked her each week why she wouldn't come to my school and she said, my mom doesn't have a car. At this time, Misty wasn't living with her mom, but the woman that she lived with had two jobs and she couldn't bring her to my school. At first, I would picked up Misty after school. Soon after she started taking ballet, Misty moved back in with her mother. She was living at the time in a motel in Gardena. After 3 months she was already dancing en point and doing fabulous things and she was going to have to give it up. That's when I asked her mom if she could move in with my family. A lot of dancers go away for training and it's not unusual. Before she moved, Misty and her mother both signed a management contract and a life story contract. The management contract gave me the right to negotiate on Misty's behalf, as well as 20 percent of the money that she earned until she turned 18. It seems Misty's mom was happy about the arrangement.
We ended up supporting her for almost 3 years and she became a part of the family. Misty told us for the first time in her life when she was living with us that she didn't have any worries, she was talking about her basic needs being paid for, being fed, and she had a dream life...she was a Cinderella. During her stay with us she made rapid progress in her dance training too.
Misty's mom Miss Dela Cerna recalls the situation differently...
She says when Misty went to stay with Cynthia Bradley and her family I didn't want Misty to do it. I just did it, because I wanted Misty to be able to dance. They knew from day one that as soon as I had transportation, as soon as I was settled, and I could get Misty back and forth, that she would come back home to live. Misty spent the next two and a half years living with Cynthia Bradley and her family...
|PHOTO CREDIT: NYCUP 5TH Anniversary Gala. Misty Copeland seen here with her mother Dela Cerna|
Misty Copeland says when she returned from San Francisco my world unraveled. My mom called and said that I was going to start living back home again. I filed for emancipation from my mom. My mom filed a restraining order against Cynthia Bradley and her family to prevent me from contacting, seeing, or being involved with the Bradley's or vice versa. The Bradley's made it sound like it was a way to make things all better, so I thought it would be good.
During court I dropped the emancipation proceedings after meeting privately with my attorney. It didn't turn out the way I thought it was going to be. It made things worse instead of better.
I can describe everything as been devastating and scarring, because I had been so private about my life.
As a grown woman and understanding everything I realize that my mom Sylvia and my teacher Cynthia Bradley came from two different worlds. My teacher wanted the best for me, but saw a child deprived and my mom saw a woman taking her child away from her. I resented my mom for years, but now I understand my mom did what she had to do. I have done the work in therapy to help with things, but to this day it's hard for us to talk about these things.
Present Day Misty Copeland
Despite it all, Misty Copeland thrived. She has won many invites from prestigious dance schools all over the country to study in their summer intensive programs. After two summers with American Ballet Theatre (ABT) she was asked to joined the studio company and the corps, but not everyone wanted her there.
Misty Copeland says Seeing negative things on the Internet was hard. There is still racism in ballet. People make comments and to some people I don't look like a ballerina. Then came the uproar of criticism over my body. As a child I had been told that I was not exactly what a ballerina should be. The so called Balanchine ideal,which is a girl with long legs, big feet, and a flat chest. So, when I hit puberty at 19 years old and suddenly had breast, bigger muscles, and a more developed figure it was a shock. I had no idea what to do with my body. It wasn't responding like it use to. It was like starting over. My teachers never told me to lose weight, but I knew they were not not happy. They basically said your body has changed, you've added weight, it's creating a different line, and it's not what we want. I didn't know how to take care of it. I've always eaten what I wanted to which was Taco Bell, soda, burgers, and french fries. I would come home and eat an entire pizza from Dominos and six donuts. Then I would cry and go to sleep. The next day I'll be hiding in class. It was a really dark time. I went through a lot by myself, because I didn't have anybody in my life yet who understand. Then enters Olu.
Who is Olu?
|Source: Lipstick Alley Join in on the discussion about MistyCopeland's Boyfriend>>|
Misty Copeland and Prince
|Misty Copeland and Prince: Prince handpicked Misty Copeland to star in his Crimson and Clover video. She was also apart of his concert in Nice, France and Welcome to America tour in 2010.>>|
At American Ballet Theatre, I am a stateswoman, so it's time for me to play mentor. I am involved in American Ballet Theatre's project Plie, an initiative to draw more diverse dancers into elite ballet. I had some really incredible people who mentored me and gave me things I never got from my parents. I think it's so important for young dancers of color to have someone who looks like them as an example and I tell them to be true to themselves.
Every Time I Dance I'm Trying to Prove Myself to Myself, I Love What I Do and I Want To Do It For As Long As I Can.
New York Times dance critic Alastair Macauley wrote that he looked forward to future performances featuring Misty Copeland. The kind words were nice, but Misty Copeland says she doesn't need kind words to push herself hard into the studio. Every time I dance I'm trying to prove myself to myself. As far as the future she's set her sights on being the first black Odette Swan Lake, she wants to get married, and have a family, but not yet. I love what I do and I want to do it for as long as I can.
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FROM AROUND THE WEB
|THE PIONEER WOMAN.COM|
- AFRICLASSICAL - A website on on African Heritage in Classical Music. Misty Copeland speaks with California Students about expanding access to careers in Ballet.
- USA TODAY: Watch Misty Copeland's Under Armour AD at USA TODAY.COM
- Hello Giggles: Why Misty Copeland dancing in Swan Lake is kind of a big deal
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