Cupcakes & Conversation with Misty Copeland, Soloist, American Ballet Theatre
I’ve wanted to interview Misty for some time. She started ballet training fairly late (13 yrs) and had to quickly decide her future career. Since then she’s never looked back and has become an inspiration to so many through her dancing and determination. I’d like you to see a different side of Misty in ‘Cupcakes’; to see that she is funny and talented in many different ways.
What motivates you at 8am on a Tuesday morning ?
My desire for movement, energy, love… Lol. I’m a morning person. I’m happy to get up and be outside and move my body. I love what I do.
Why ballet ?
I can’t explain why ballet. The fact that I didn’t choose it but it chose me might be the best explanation. Ballet is me.
What are you looking forward to dancing this year ?
This year I am looking forward to the new Alexei Ratmansky ballet he is choreographing on ABT. I think he’s absolutely brilliant and ABT is very lucky to have snatched him up. And of course my normal rep. Peasant Pas in Giselle, Flower Girls in Don Q…
Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance ?
There are a few dancers I would like to dance with. Some I have danced with before. The one person I haven’t is Desmond Richardson. I would want a new work created on us. Something neo classical or contemporary. Something that we could move a lot in.
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance ?
I am so fortunate to have already danced in such incredible places all over the world. But If I could dance anywhere in the world I would definitely want to go back to Greece and dance at The Herod Atticus Odeon in Athens, or any outdoor theatre there. That was the most breath-taking, mind-blowing experience. What natural beauty.
How do you prepare your pointe shoes ?
I wear Bloch Axiom pointe shoes. I don’t do much to them. I put a little Jet Glue inside the tip of the toe. I bend them a little to break where my arch is. When it’s performance season I bang the toe on a concrete floor to get rid of some of the loud echo that happens when you jump. I don’t do that to my shoes for rehearsal though. That’s about it. When I wore Sansha’s I literally would just stick them on my foot and go.
What is your daily routine at the moment ?
At the moment we are in rehearsals for our New York season at the Met. My routine at the moment is class at 1015 and rehearsals from 12 to 7pm.
What do you eat during the course of a typical working day ?
During the course of a typical work day I eat depending on how my body feels. Sometimes I wake up and have a bowl of oatmeal and maybe some toast. Other days I eat after class. I will order a bagel and fruit to the dance studio. For lunch I like to eat light. A salad or sushi. Dinner is always more extravagant. It’s my favorite meal. I love to cook so it’s my chance to relax and express myself in the kitchen. I usually make fish and veggies, or rice, pasta.
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite ?
I would invite Maya Angelou, Esperanza Spaulding, Ravin Wilkinson, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Janet Collins.
What would surprise people about you ?
I think that people see me as a very serious, dedicated and passionate person because of the way I appear in interviews. What would surprise people about me is that I’m pretty silly and outgoing. I love listening to music and eating.
Who inspired you to dance ?
I can’t really pinpoint one person as my inspiration for dancing. Because it fell into my lap, I inspired myself. Of course there was Paloma Herrera, Gelsey Kirkland, Sylvie Guillem & my godmother Liz Cantine.
What is your best piece of advice ?
My best piece of advice is to be you! Accept everything about you that makes you different. Embrace it!
How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?
I prepare by putting my make-up on while listening to music. It calms me down. At the on stage call I stretch and go through some of the steps on stage. Right before I go on I like to have a moment to myself to breathe and focus.
Which role has tested you the most & how ?
The role that has tested me the most would probably be Tchaikovsky Pas De Deux. I wasn’t trained in Balanchine technique so it was a challenge stylistically and stamina wise.
If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create ?
If I were asked to design my own ballet costume I would have a blast! I have been dying to do that for myself. My body is curvy but petite and most costumes don’t fit me well, aren’t supportive or flattering. I would completely redesign the interior of the tutu. A breathable, supportive structure with a lightweight overlay that formed to the body and allowed my curves to be highlighted in an attractive way. I have a dancewear line in the works. I guess that’s why I’m so passionate.
What do you look for in a dance partner ?
I look for focus. I look for someone who’s open to all ideas of improvement, artistry and freedom. Strength balanced with reverence. TRUST.
What is your favourite quote ?
Maya Angelou. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you ?
Movement in general comes natural to me. Grand allegro. Jumping, traveling. I guess those are my signature steps.
A phrase I use far too often is … ?
What’s been your best on-stage moment so far ?
All of those special performances you just can’t duplicate, when there is magic between you and your partner whether that be a man or woman. When you feed off of each other and create right there in the moment.
Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about ?
My secret skill that not many people know about is that I’m pretty good at Sudoku. Lol!
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now ?
In terms of my ballet career, a year from now I would like to be exploring my artistry more. Being pushed in every way I can. Getting the opportunity to do leading classical roles at ABT. I want to be happy and fulfilled.
If you could dance in front of anyone, who would it be and what makes them special to you?
If I could dance in front of anyone I would want to dance for every black person I have inspired and that has inspired me!
When I reviewed American Ballet Theatre’s Programme Two earlier this year, I said of Misty’s dancing in Company B, “Misty Copeland, slightly lawless in the Rum & Coca-Cola section with the boys slavering over her hypnotic hips should be run on a continuous loop.”
This recent video highlights Copeland’s career to date and her aspirations for the future – to be the first African American female Principal at American Ballet Theatre :
Misty Copeland hasn’t yet danced with Desmond Richardson; here’s a short clip of his dancing :
Visit Misty Copeland’s website
Watch Misty’s latest interview onFox News