Misty Copeland with our San Pedro Club and Wilmington Club
dance students and dance instructors Nathan Billingslea and
Gracie Delgado at a recent promotional event for Misty’s memoir.
We aim to motivate our youth to break down barriers that prevent them from reaching their full potential. One of our most inspiring alumni, Misty Copeland, is proof that our youth, regardless of their beginnings, can overcome obstacles and accomplish greatness.
Misty Copeland is the first black female soloist in the American Ballet Theatre in over 20 years and is only the second black woman to hold that position. She has her own line of dance wear, has appeared in commercials for Diet Dr Pepper and Coach handbags and is the national youth of the year ambassador for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In her youth, Misty and her siblings participated in after-school programming at the San Pedro Boys & Girls Club. Her recent memoir, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, describes our San Pedro Club as one of the few places that she felt comfortable in her upbringing while dealing with financial and emotional struggles (Copeland, 2013 p. 30). When Misty was 13 years old, she joined ballet classes offered at the Club. Although she was starting ballet training for the first time, she quickly showed amazing ability and grace. Misty’s training intensified and she was ultimately awarded a scholarship to American Ballet Theatre’s summer program. She joined the junior studio company in 2000 and then the senior troupe in 2001. Earlier this month, several high school dance students from our San Pedro and Wilmington Clubs were given the opportunity to meet Misty and receive copies of her memoir thanks to Live Talks Los Angeles. Our youth heard Misty give a live interview and were able to ask her questions during a Q&A portion. One of our San Pedro Club dance students asked if Misty ever felt discouraged when faced with challenges in her neighborhood or at home. Misty immediately responded that facing those challenges only made her push harder to accomplish her goals and she found solace in dance. Misty was able to start dance training due to the free ballet lessons offered at our Club to youth members who seek creative outlets and opportunities to develop their skills. We have expanded and improved our arts education since then, thanks to inspiring stories like Misty’s. Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, was released in March and details Misty Copeland’s journey to dance stardom.