If the rhythm or beat of the music changes with a live orchestra, you have to think on your feet. If you feel like you are not on your leg, you have to make a decision to make it look as though nothing is going wrong.

Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland

Profession: Dancer
Nationality: American

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I think body-image issues are not just a dancer thing. I think we're much more in tune and aware because the body is our instrument and art, and we stare at ourselves in a mirror all day, but I feel like it's something that every woman experiences and every girl experiences.

I've gotten nothing but warmth from the Black community and positive feedback.

I don't feel like my life is that of a superstar! Every day I wake up, I take the train, I go to my ballet class. My everyday life is pretty normal.

Though I have tremendous support from lots of people, there are so many others waiting to tear me down.

I never thought of myself as special or particularly good at anything. But once I started ballet, suddenly I had a new identity: prodigy.

My curves became an integral part of who I am as a dancer, not something I needed to lose to become one.

I say over and over again that I am just standing on the shoulders of so many who have set this path for me, and they may not be seen or recognized or have been given an opportunity to have a voice, but I'm here representing all of those dancers. Dance Theatre of Harlem Virginia Johnson, Tai Jimenez, Lauren Anderson.

When it came to my childhood - growing up in a single-parent home, often struggling financially - my mother definitely instilled in me and my siblings this strength, this will, to just continue to survive and succeed.

I don't want to be anything else other than a ballerina. I love what I do outside of my work, but at the end of the day, I have to sacrifice.

In the ballet studio, it was such an organized and disciplined environment, like I'd never had in my life. Seeing myself in the mirror, surrounded by the classical music, that's when I started to fall in love with dance.

'The Company' was interesting. I didn't love it, although it might be compelling to someone who isn't a dancer. There wasn't a lot of dialogue, and you were just kind of observing the creative process of choreography and in class.

More often than we realize, people see in us what we don't see in ourselves.

When people meet me in person, they're usually surprised at how petite I am because there's this idea that because I'm black, I just look a certain way.

I was the first person in my family who was ever interested in dance, or fine art of any kind for that matter - I came from a very humble beginning in San Pedro, California.