Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland: Off-Stage Style


Dec. 16 2023, Published 3:02 a.m. ET

You marvel at Misty Copeland’s inspiring ballet performances. But have you ever thought of what this dance icon rocks when she’s not entertaining us with her breathtaking moves in the ballet theater? Here's all you need to know about Misty Copeland’s life off the ballet dancing stage.

On-Stage Elegance vs. Off-Stage Versatility

Misty’s fashion choices are on a whole new level when the curtains close.

When she's out and about—be it at public events or casual hangouts—her style game takes a daring turn. Instead, you'll find her rocking a variety of looks. She knows how to switch from sophistication to laid-back glam effortlessly. A queen fashionista and so much more!

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Beyond Clothes—A Story of Empowerment and Courage

Misty Copeland's off-stage fashion narrates a tale of empowerment, a celebration of authenticity and courage. Misty Copeland broke the barrier in 2015, becoming the first black American to be named a principal ballerina in 75 years for American Ballet Theatre (ABT). There is no existing company in the United States that operates on that national scale. The news was very unfavorable for the company as it was going through a tough time.

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Kevin MacKenzie, who was the artistic director, made the decision to leave. He acted that way since the dancers in the company at the time were all female and were aging. They were very loved by the powerful ballet-loving public of the city of skyscrapers: the Cuban Xiomara Reyes, the Argentine Paloma Herrera, and the American Julie Kent.

Thus, space was created for new top positions, and Copeland, Stella Abrera, the Russian Maria Konchetlova, and the Danish Alban Lendordf were promoted. Copeland has had a mentor by her side all these years of hard work among white people: the black dancer and teacher Raven Wilkinson. But things in American ballet were never easy for blacks. In the founding decade of the 1940s, the so-called Black Dance Group existed in the American Ballet Theater at the insistence of its promoters, but they had to dance separately.

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Agnes de Mille (the niece of Cecil, the filmmaker, who was born in Harlem) created Black Ritual for them: the first choreographic work for blacks made by a white woman. When a black dancer fell ill, she was replaced by Margarite de Anguerro, who had her face painted, and they put gloves on her, black on the outside, light cream on the inside. Anguerro later told the jokes that her comrades in her company told her.

A critical case to consider is that of Copeland's driving teacher, Raven Wilkinson, a member of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo between 1955 and 1961, her last American stage. Misty hasn't had it any easier than her teacher as she also fought to enter ABT. Her fame in the ballet world started gaining momentum in 2015. She may now be 41, nursing a child, and not as active as a ballerina as before, but her off-stage look gives her a different dimension as a versatile entertainer.

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