In a conversation with dance faculty member Tina Fehlandt, ballet superstar Misty Copeland will discuss her professional career, her struggles as an African American in the ballet world, her preparations to dance Swan Lake in American Ballet Theater’s spring season, and her new memoir, Life in Motion. A book signing will follow the discussion, which will be held at 4:30 p.m. in McCosh 50, McCosh Hall, on the Princeton campus. Cosponsors of this event in the series include Princeton’s Center for African American Studies and Princeton University Ballet. The talk is free, but tickets are required and will be available through University Ticketing at 609-258-9220 beginning February 13. Limit 2 tickets/person.

Copeland is a popular soloist with American Ballet Theater, the third African American soloist in the company’s history. She is often described as a ballet phenom, having taken her first class at the age of 13 and winning first place in the prestigious Los Angeles Spotlight awards in 1998 at the age of 15. After touring China with ABT she was asked to join the company’s corps de ballet in 2001 and in 2007 was elevated to soloist. She has received a Princess Grace Award and the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts.


About Misty Copeland

Photo by Gregg Delman

Photo by Gregg Delman

Born in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in San Pedro, California, Misty Copeland began her ballet studies at the late age of thirteen. At fifteen, she won first place in the Music Center Spotlight Awards. She 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. 
Misty joined ABT’s Studio Company in September 2000, joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in April 2001, and in August 2007 made history by becoming their second African American female Soloist and the first in two decades.

In 2008, Misty was honored with the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts, a two-year fellowship awarded to young artists who exhibit extraordinary talent providing them additional resources in order to attain their full potential. Performing a variety of classical and contemporary roles, one of Misty’s most important roles was performing the title role in Firebird, created on her in 2012 with new choreography by much sought after choreographer Alexei Ratmansky. In September 2014, she made history as the first black woman to perform the lead role of Odette/Odile in American Ballet Theatre’s Swan Lake during the company’s first ever tour to Australia. In December 2014, Misty performed the lead role of Clara in American Ballet Theatre’s production of The Nutcracker, also choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky.

Misty has been featured in numerous publications and television programs, including CBS Sunday Morning, The Today Show, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry, Vogue, Essence, Ebony, and People Magazine. She was honored with an induction into the Boys & Girls Club National Hall of Fame in May 2012 and received the “Breakthrough Award” from the Council of Urban Professionals in April 2012. She was named National Youth of the Year Ambassador for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in June 2013. She received the Young, Gifted & Black honor at the 2013 Black Girls Rock! Awards.

Her endorsements past and present include American Express, COACH, and Diet Dr. Pepper. In 2014, Under Armour launched Misty as one of the faces of their “I Will What I Want” campaign with a commercial that went viral, gaining nearly 7,000,000 views to date.

Misty’s passion is giving back. She has worked with many charitable organizations and is dedicated to giving of her time to work with and mentor young girls and boys. In 2014, President Obama appointed Misty to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition.

Misty is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, Life in Motion, co-written with award-winning journalist and author Charisse Jones, published in March 2014. She has a picture book titled Firebird in collaboration with award-winning illustrator and author Christopher Myers, published in September 2014. She received an honorary doctorate from the University of Hartford in November 2014 for her contributions to classical ballet and helping to diversify the art form. Misty’s goal is to become the first African American female principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre.

In the News

The Daily Princetonian | Black History Month: Misty Copeland

Event Archive

View or download event materials: Poster | Press release

Presented By

  • Princeton University Ballet
  • Center for African American Studies
  • Program in Dance