Ballet dancer

Ballet dancer Misty Copeland talks about her favorite workout and her personal approach to self-care

Chances are you recognize ballet dancer Misty Copeland from her performances with American Ballet Theatre. Her movements may seem graceful and effortless to the audience, but Copeland’s journey to that coveted Lincoln Center stage was anything but. Now, after nearly three decades in the industry, the dancer embodies passion and confidence it can only come from unwavering dedication and hard work – so it’s only natural to be curious about the crucial lessons she learned to get to this place. And luckily, she’s an open book…literally.

It should be noted that Copeland’s accomplishments extend far beyond her ballet career. The dancer has now published a total of six books, the latest being The wind at my back – a memoir about his relationship with the late Raven Wilkinson, legendary ballet dancer and Copeland’s mentor. “She showed me that it’s possible to still have so much love and appreciation for something, even if it has negative effects on you,” Copeland recalled. “Thinking of his career as black woman in americawho grew up in the 1940s and 1950s and then experienced racism within ballet, it’s amazing that she still has so much love and passion for the art form – and no bitterness towards it what her career could have been, or what she went through on the inside.”

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In addition to her memoir, Copeland also recently launched her own after-school ballet program. BE BOLD, which allows children aged 8 to 10 to take free dance lessons. (FYI: Copeland began her dancing career on a basketball court at a boys and girls club in San Pedro, Calif.) And as if all that weren’t enough, Copeland also has a strong presence in the spaces of the fashion and beauty: she regularly partners with fashion and beauty brands such as Theory, Breitling and Estée Lauder for campaigns, educational events and more.

While Copeland took a break from ballet to welcome her first baby, son Jackson, her dancing career is far from over. In fact, she’s determined to make a triumphant return to the ballet scene in 2023. And for now, you can glean from the star stalwart secrets of well-being and self-carerevealed to TZR ahead.

You recently launched your own charity initiative, BE BOLD. What kind of impact would you like it to have now and in the long term?

The goal is to empower this next generation of black and brown youth from disadvantaged and disadvantaged communities to feel like they can be a part of the world of ballet.

I also want people to understand that ballet can be rigorous and fun, and it doesn’t have to be that kind of [stereotypical] abusive environment. So in the long term, I want to be able to change the landscape of ballet in a way that more people can see themselves as part of the ballet community. It’s not just about turning professional [dancer]; it’s also about acquiring the tools to be leaders in your community.

You also talked about the challenges you faced throughout your career as a ballerina. How did you deal with this stress and pent up frustration?

Well when I was younger I used to go out a lot [laughs]. I think what attracted me [going out, and socializing] was the exit to hear music, especially because it was such a big part of my family growing up. It was our way of communicating and having a voice — so for me, [going out and dancing has] always been a way to relax and unwind.

Now let’s talk about your daily routine. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

Drink water, wash my face, then [do] something with my body – gym, ballet class, stretching, something like that.

When you have the chance to indulge yourself, what do you do?

A glass of Prosecco, a pizza and a spa.

What are you listening to these days?

Jessie Reyez’s new album, [Yessie].

One thing you can’t live without is…

My tweezers.

Where do you dream of traveling? Why?

Oh my God, where haven’t I been… Maybe back somewhere in Italy? I love Italy and would love to spend time on the coast there.

What’s your secret weapon to looking good and feeling good?


Do you have a favorite workout/wellness practice?

Ballet. There is nothing that can replace it. And while I congratulate all new [ballet-inspired] practices like barre classes and things like that, there’s really no other way to experiment and have a corps de ballet than to do a real ballet class.

What’s the best relationship advice you’ve ever received?

It’s so generic but it’s so true: communication and the ability to step back and see the big picture. [You have to] really listen and hear [the other person]then respond with compassion and love.

What is a healthy meal that you always cook/order?

I make a lot of stovetop pan-seared salmon with a spinach leaf salad. Something simple like that.

Do you remember your first big madness? Do you still own it?

Probably a pair of [Christian] Louboutin shoes, which I still own. When I worked with Prince and we toured a lot, there were a lot of big parties and he always said, “When you’re with me, you’re not just a ballerina. You’re a rock star, so you have to dress like one. And so I had these incredibly high-heeled ankle boots that were Christian Louboutin, with spikes and all kinds of crazy things on them.

What is the little anti-stress luxury that you swear by at home?

Be still and silent. I think it’s a luxury that people don’t realize is at their fingertips.

What are you saving for right now?

Probably for vacation! I have a new baby, so our holidays are very different now [laughs]. We don’t have the crazy trips we once had. I’m sure we’ll be back, but I’d say I’m saving for a nice big vacation, which we might be able to take at some point without [my son] Jackson.

One thing you want to go back and tell your younger self?

I would tell myself to be patient, understanding and forgiving, and to know that the circumstances you are raised in do not define you and that you can be anything you want to be.