It's hard to change someone's ideas when they might not even really consciously know that they're being racist, or have racist ideas, just because ballet has been this way for hundreds of years.

Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland

Profession: Dancer
Nationality: American

Some suggestions for you :

My first ballet class was on a basketball court. I'm in my gym clothes and my socks trying to do this thing called ballet. I didn't know anything about it.

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.

I think, as a child, there weren't dreams. I can't recall as a child having some ultimate dream and thinking that it was possible.

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.

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.

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

I didn't want to be the best at anything; I just wanted to blend in. And that was kind of my existence throughout my family experiences at home of just kind of blending in in the background through my other siblings, which was easy to do.

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.

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.

I want the ballet world to be given the respect that it deserves and to be seen by more people - for so many to experience the beauty that I've received from the ballet world.

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

It's a European art form, and you're used to seeing a certain type of person as a ballerina. And I don't look like a lot of the girls around me.

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.

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.