If you’ve ever had the chance to watch Misty Copeland dance, you’d never know that she had any issues with confidence. But as the first African American female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) told The Root’s Editor in Chief, Vanessa De Luca, breaking that barrier was no easy feat. And she credits the late singer/songwriter/producer Prince with boosting her confidence and motivating her to take her career to the next level.
During a Root Institute panel discussion about ways the arts can help our children thrive, Copeland talked about her experience touring with Prince off and on for four years during breaks with ABT. Copeland says the legendary musician pushed her to own her individuality, something she admits was very difficult. “Having someone like Prince say you are the best and pushing me to go farther than I thought I could was a big step,” she said.
The ballerina was also happy to give the audience a few details about The Misty Copeland Foundation, her new non-profit organization created to bring more diversity, equity and inclusion to dance, especially ballet. Among the foundation’s key initiatives will be bringing more opportunities for children from underserved communities to engage in dance.
“This is something that I feel like I’m meant to do, and I’m just excited to continue to give back to my community and to ballet which has given me this incredible life that I have and made me into the person I am,” she said.
Copeland has been taking some time away from dance lately to focus on being a mom. She and husband Olu Evans welcomed their first child, son Jackson earlier this year. But as she told PEOPLE in a July interview, she plans to get back on stage sometime in the fall of 2023. And we can’t wait.
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