On June 30, 2015, Misty Copeland became the American Ballet Theatre's first African-American principal ballet dancer. Misty's autobiography, Life In Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina chronicles her struggles and triumphs, from the first ballet class she took at a community center. Misty began taking ballet at the ancient age of thirteen and was en pointe within three months; a feat that normally takes several years of training to accomplish. That same year, Misty began to perform professionally, despite the hardships of her personal life. She succeeded in achieving her highest goals, despite not fitting into an elitist mold of what some extremely myopic companies desired.
Misty Copeland's commercial for Under Armour featuring her dancing prowess to a voice over of her reading a ludicrous rejection letter has received over 8 million hits on YouTube. Her interview on 60 Minutes also touches on her book's themes of perseverance and an inherent love of ballet that she wants to share with other young dancers in need of enthusiastic mentoring, needed to break obsolete barriers.
Even though she was battling six stress fractures, Misty's breakout role in the Stravinsky ballet Firebird, was her first full lead role in an American Ballet Theatre production. Misty has also written a children's book Firebird: Ballerina Misty Copeland Shows a Young Girl How To Dance Like the Firebird, illustrated by Christopher Myers.
For additional inspiration, check out the following books and DVDs about the lives and legacies of various ballet dancers, choreographers, and ballet company directors.
The Visual Dictionary of Ballet for Children produced by Rosemary Boross
Balanchine (DVD): The Father of American Ballet
Like a Bomb Going Off: Leonid Yakobson and Ballet As Resistance in Soviet Russia by Janice Ross
First Position (DVD)
Nureyev: The Life by Julie Kavanagh
Dancing On My Grave: An Autobiography by Gelsey Kirkland with Greg Lawrence
Nijinsky by Richard Buckle
Holding On To The Air: An Autobiography by Suzanne Farrell
Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance (DVD)