Born in Kansas City, Mo., and raised in San Pedro, Calif., Misty Copeland says she first learned to harness her creativity at age 11 in a wood shop class at her Boys & Girls Club. Copeland says, “I know it sounds sort of crazy, but I loved that class. For the first time I had an outlet for this creativity I was feeling. It was a whole new world.”
It wasn’t until two years later that Copeland noticed a dance class in the Club gym, but she says she could only watch it at first, too scared to attempt it herself. Before long, the instructor pulled her from the sidelines and, in gym clothes and socks, Copeland took her first ballet class. “I had found my voice,” she says.
At the age of fifteen she won first place in the Music Center Spotlight Awards. She then 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 American Ballet Theatre’s National Coca-Cola Scholar in 2000.
Copeland joined American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company in September 2000 and then became a member of the corps de ballet in April 2001. She was appointed a soloist in August 2007. She has danced as “Kitri” in Don Quixote, and the “Sugar Plum Fairy” and “Clara” in The Nutcracker.
Copeland credits the Boys & Girls Club with helping to launch her career as one of the few African-American classical ballerinas in the world.
Boys & Girls Clubs National Alumni; For more information, visit BGCA.org