(TOMS RIVER, NJ) -- Misty Copeland, Principal Dancer for American Ballet Theatre, joins the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts at Ocean County on Thursday, September 16, 2021 at 11:00am, for a virtual speaking engagement as part of the Blauvelt Speaker Series.
Virtual tickets are free. Pre-registration is required here. (One virtual ticket per viewing device. Visit their Virtual Event Support page to learn about recommendations for casting to a TV and accessing this event.)
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, and raised in San Pedro, California, Misty Copeland began her ballet studies at the late age of 13. Two years later, at 15 years old, she won first place in the Music Center Spotlight Awards. She studied at the San Francisco Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive on full scholarship and was declared ABT’s National Coca-Cola Scholar in 2000. Copeland joined ABT’s Studio Company in September 2000, joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in April 2001, and in August 2007 became the company’s second African American female soloist, and the first in two decades. In August 2015, Copeland was promoted to principal dancer, making her the first African American woman to ever be promoted to the position in the company’s 75-year history. She soon made her Broadway debut in the role of “Ivy Smith/Miss Turnstiles” in the critically acclaimed show On The Town.
In 2008, Copeland was honored with the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts, a two-year fellowship awarded to young artists who exhibit extraordinary talent, providing them additional resources in order to attain their full potential. She performed the title role in Firebird in 2012, with new choreography by much sought-after choreographer Alexei Ratmansky. In 2014, she debuted the lead role of “Clara” in ABT’s production of The Nutcracker, also choreographed by Ratmansky. That fall, she made history as the first Black woman to perform the lead role of “Odette/Odile” in ABT’s Swan Lake during the company’s inaugural tour to Australia. Misty reprised the role during ABT’s Metropolitan Opera House spring season in June 2015, and also debuted as “Juliet” in Romeo & Juliet. During ABT’s 2017 spring season, Copeland debuted the lead roles in Giselle and Don Quixote as “Kitri,” as well as “Miss Praline” in Ratmansky’s critically acclaimed Whipped Cream. Then, in November 2017, she debuted the role of “Aurora” in The Sleeping Beauty with The Australian Ballet in Sydney.
Copeland has been featured in numerous publications and television programs, including CBS Sunday Morning, 60 Minutes, The Today Show, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry, Vogue, Essence, Ebony, and People Magazine. She was honored with an induction into the Boys & Girls Club National Hall of Fame in May 2012; received the “Breakthrough Award” from the Council of Urban Professionals in April 2012; awarded the Young, Gifted & Black honor at the 2013 Black Girls Rock! Awards; received a Dance Magazine Award in 2014; was named to the Time 100 List in 2015; and received the 2015 Glamour Magazine Women of the Year Award. In 2018, she was honored with the DVF Award for Inspiration by the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation.
Copeland’s passion is giving back; she has worked with many charitable organizations and is dedicated to mentoring young girls and boys. In June 2013, she was named National Youth of the Year Ambassador for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The following year, President Obama appointed Copeland to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. Also in 2014, she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Hartford for her contributions to classical ballet and helping to diversify the art form. And in 2015, she traveled to Rwanda with MindLeaps to help launch its girls program and to establish The Misty Copeland Scholarship. Copeland has been a Turnaround Arts Ambassador since 2016, representing the Gregory Jocko Jackson school in Brooklyn.
She is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Life in Motion, co-written with award-winning journalist and author Charisse Jones; a picture book, Firebird, in collaboration with award-winning illustrator and author Christopher Myers; the book Ballerina Body, an instant New York Times Bestseller; and the New York Times bestselling children’s book Bunheads, with illustrator Setor Fiadzigbey.
The Blauvelt Speaker Series is funded in part by the generosity of the late Bradford Thomas & Eleanor G. Blauvelt and The Wintrode Family Foundation. This year’s 2021 additional sponsors include: Helen M. Earles, Ph.D.; Judi and Stephan Leone; New Jersey Natural Gas; Novins, York, Jacobus & Dooley; and Arlene and Frank Dupignac, Jr.