The April issue of Smithsonian magazine featured ABT principal Misty Copeland. She opened up about misconceptions about ballerinas, what it was like to work with Prince and discussed her new “Ballet Across America” program at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Here are five of our favorite quotes from the interview.
On one of the biggest misconceptions about ballet dancers: “That it’s easy. That we are not athletes, therefore people assume that we can starve ourselves and just go up there and twirl around. I think what people don’t realize is that when we’re working as much as we do and training and dancing up to eight hours a day and performing in the evening, that there’s no way that we could actually function as athletes if we weren’t feeding and fueling our bodies.”
On working with Prince: “I feel like he helped create the artist I am today and just kind of opened my eyes to looking at things from a different perspective and a different way. It was absolutely incredible. I am so fortunate to have spent time with him.”
On “ballerina bodies”: “I don’t think there is a real true definition. I feel like the body is forever evolving, not just in ballet, but in the world. And it’s sad when people say, ‘A ballerina needs to look this way,’ because when you look at the history, you see this array of ballet stars and they all come in such different packages. I feel like it’s being your healthiest and most fit self, not trying to be someone else.”
On the three ballets everyone should see: “One very close to my heart, like it’s something I did very early on in my career at ABT and it’s still one of my favorites from the choreography standpoint and the music standpoint, is Petite Mort, which is contemporary work. Being in American Ballet Theatre, we do full-length ballets. That’s the bulk of our rep. Maybe Giselle. Again, the whole thing from the music to the choreography to the costume to everything is done so incredibly well. Maybe a Forsythe ballet. I’m a huge fan of William Forsythe’s work. I don’t know, [maybe] workwithinwork.”
On what she would be if she weren’t a ballerina: “I think I’d be a chef.”