Misty Copeland is leaping into her next great adventure. The accomplished dancer has launched The Misty Copeland Foundation, a new non-profit organization.
“The Misty Copeland Foundation aims to support community-based opportunities to explore dance, especially programs that engage young girls and boys of color; advance the art form of ballet through greater diversity, equity, and inclusion; and pursue social justice through arts activism,” she explained to EBONY.
Returning to her roots, Copeland has partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “Using my own personal experiences with the Boys & Girls Clubs, starting out in a free ballet class, I’ve created our first program, which is called ‘Be Bold,’” Copeland shared at a private VIP party hosted by Breitling at their flagship store in midtown Manhattan. Copeland is part of the Swiss luxury watch brand's “Spotlight Squad,” which focuses on women striving to change the world. “It's an after-school dance program that's being offered at five different Boys & Girls Clubs in the Bronx, [N.Y.].”
Stressing that the program is much greater than finding the next prodigy, “Ballet offers leadership development,” Copeland declared. “It’s about giving these children the opportunity to be a part of a discipline, to be to be around live music, to utilize their bodies, to start to build the tools to be able to be leaders in their communities.”
Sharing the importance of creating The Misty Copeland Foundation, the prima ballerina declared, “After 20-plus years as a professional dancer not only striving to climb the ranks within ballet but also working to create more access and opportunity for Black and brown people, I felt that beyond being a presence and representation on the stage, starting a foundation could be the true community work necessary and impactful to see systemic change.”
Copeland, who made history as the first African American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, gave one world-renowned superstar notable due for helping to kick off her illustrious career.
“Around the age of seven or eight, Mariah Carey came onto the scene for me,” Copeland revealed. “Being able to see someone who I could see myself through, that representation of being a biracial woman who is beautiful, talented, and successful, I think that's what I was drawn to. And it was her music that got me interested in starting to choreograph.”
Copeland also has written a new coffee table book. “More than changing the story for Black dancers, my book, Black Ballerinas, is telling the stories of Black ballerinas whose stories haven't been told in earnest,” shared Copeland. “It’s a celebration of women of color who have impacted me and the world of ballet. To know our history is powerful, and that's what I want Black people to know we have: power and legacy in ballet.”
Running a non-profit and writing books aren’t the only new ventures that keep Copeland on her toes. She and her husband Olu Evans are proud parents of their first child, Jackson, who is six months old. “I just love him so much,” she exclaimed with a proud grin.