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.

Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland

Profession: Dancer
Nationality: American

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Once you become a professional, to get through a ballet like 'Swan Lake' - four acts as the lead, changing character - the perseverance is incredible. It takes a lot to make it through and keep the same energy throughout the entire performance.

Being in ballet class, being on the stage, being surrounded by my peers at American Ballet Theater every day, keeps me so humble and grounded. Being in ballet class, I feel, is like this meditation for me every morning.

I feel like going to class every morning is so humbling. You're always working to improve, and you're always being critiqued on your next performance. It's not about what you've done. There's always room to grow.

When I was dancing, I felt in control and happy. I'm a Virgo, so I really like to be in control.

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

Finding great training, I think, is number one. I did a lot of research and found really great teachers, and it just takes - I took a year off from school and did independent studies so that I could devote all of my time to it. But I think that training is the key, definitely, and it's not a sport.

Before dance came into my life, I don't really remember having any major goals or dreams of wanting to be anything.

If I'm put in a situation where I am not really sure what's going to happen, it can be overwhelming. I get a bit anxious.

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.

Depending on the level you're at in your company, the higher you go up in rank, usually the longer you can dance.

A young girl reached out to me to be her mentor one day, which I didn't really know anything about. What I did remember was what it was to be alone as an African-American dancer in the ballet world and wanting to connect with someone who looks like me.

I think that the ideal physique and look of a ballerina is always changing with different eras. And it's continuing to change.

I wake up every morning, and I go to ballet class no matter what's going on the night before. That's my priority, and that's what makes me feel sane and not removed from the realities of my world.

Growing up, I was surrounded by R&B and Hip-Hop, and the closest thing I could find to dance was gymnastics which I watched on TV. So, I just used those avenues I found available right in my milieu to express what was inside of me.