5 Minutes With the Incomparable Misty Copeland
We talked design, snacks, and haters with the principal ballerina.
Published Jul 5, 2018 7:01 PM
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Our admiration for Misty Copeland knows no bounds. She needs no introduction, but just in case: Copeland is the first African-American woman to become a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, and she has broken barrier after barrier in both the ballet world, and beyond, becoming a beacon of possibility and hope. She’s also the author of Ballerina Body, chronicling her winding path to becoming a professional ballerina. (If you need a good cry, watch the 2015 Instagram video of her being announced as a principal dancer at ABT.)
When given the opportunity to sit with her for five minutes, we horizontally leapt (or grand jeté in ballet) at the chance. The opportunity arose thanks to her new partnership with Naked to launch their Naked Fruit, Nut & Veggie Bars, the company’s first product beyond smoothies and juices. So naturally we talked snacks (she swears by their new $2.29 bar), but also journaling and calming decor colors.
A Day in Her Life
“I start out my day eating pretty lightly and then I have ballet class in the morning,” says Copeland. “And then I’ll rehearse maybe from 10am to maybe 5:30pm if it’s a performance day. And then again I’ll eat something really light, maybe a salad or sushi, before the performance. My ritual of getting ready is I put music on and try and center myself and my mind and be really present while I’m putting my makeup on. I get my makeup done a lot, but I just really love the process of doing it myself—just like being alone and getting ready. And then right before I step on the stage, I take a moment to breathe before I go out there. After the performance, I eat a lot.”
Snacks Are Key!
There is a misconceived notion that ballerinas starve themselves. Copeland is here to assure you she most certainly does not, but her eating is more strategic.
“I snack a lot,” assured Copeland. “I’m not someone who wakes up and has bacon and eggs and then has a sandwich for lunch. I’m constantly on the go, so I like to have things that I know will fuel me but not weigh me down and make me too full. I probably start out with a yogurt and fruit in the morning. And I always have nuts and vegetables and dried fruit, things like that in my dance bag. So having these Naked Fruit, Nut & Veggie Bars has been awesome. It makes sense and is bringing everything together.”
Dealing With The Haters
Feedback is a natural part of the process of ballet to continue to perfect techniques, but sometimes it can veer into the personal and negative, which Copeland has dealt with many times in her life. So much so, that she has an entire outlook on it now.
“As a dancer, it’s not necessarily a negative thing to get that feedback,” says Copeland. “You spend hours in the studio with a ballet master or ballet mistress in the front to tell us every single thing they think we’re doing wrong to make us better. So I feel like I have a different relationship with that than most people do.
With that said, there are the haters, there are people on the internet that have their opinions, and I think that you just approach it as if someone has an opinion, you have to accept that they have an opinion. When it comes to positive or negative reviews, I just take it all with a grain of salt. I try to send that same message to my mentees that I work with, it’s better to just absorb and take in the words from people you know that are actually around you, and are there to support you and make you better, rather than from a troll on the internet that is saying something about you.”
Her Morning Routine
What does Copeland do as soon as she wakes up? Hydrate.
“Get water,” she says. “I sleep with water next to my bed. That’s the first thing I do. I don’t drink coffee or tea or anything, there is no caffeine in my diet, I’ve never been someone that feels like I need it. I’ll wake up and eat something light. I do a whole routine in my living room, these small strengthening exercise that prepare me for my day. I’m not working out and sweating, but I have little light weights that I’ll put on my ankles and I’ll do inner thigh exercises and calf raises and things like that. Just getting those small little muscles that once I start my day, it’s so hard to focus on because I do so much other stuff.
“I don’t wear any makeup on a daily basis, especially because I’m sweating and working out all day. And I prefer to just be natural. So, I’d say washing my face and putting moisturizer on is the extent of my beauty routine on a daily basis.”
Putting It On Paper
“Journaling is something I’ve done since I was 15 years old,” says Copeland. “And I have every single journal still, which was incredible when I was writing my memoir, so I could go back and read through these journals and remember and revisit the exact emotions I was having with these experiences. I am someone who was extremely shy as a child, and didn’t really come out of my shell until I found dance. But I still was afraid to speak; journaling was such a nice way for me to express myself and get all these thoughts and feelings out.”
Aesthetics and Colors
When you’re someone who is so busy that you’re rarely home, it’s important to make your place truly yours so you can feel comfortable immediately, which is exactly what Copeland believes.
“I’m a minimalist, and my husband is not,” she says. “I like to keep things open and airy. He likes things with more life and photos. But I love light grays and pale blues and oatmeal tones. And when I’m at home—and I’m not at home a lot—I like it to feel really serene, like I’m in a spa.”
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