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Creating Powerful Performances

Misty Copeland

Lesson time 4:57 min

A strong stage presence is rooted in the connection you have with the audience. Misty guides you to focus on portraying roles with honesty and encourages you to stay in the moment on stage.

Misty Copeland
Teaches Ballet Technique and Artistry
American Ballet Theatre principal dancer Misty Copeland teaches you how to build your technique, embrace your story, and own your movement.
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[MUSIC PLAYING] - I definitely would say that part of my power is really just giving into whatever is thrown at me. And I think that as a child, that's kind of how I was. I never knew what to expect or what was coming so you just have to sit back and just see what what's going to happen. And I think that that's definitely helped me in my professional career. That you just don't have control over certain things. Whether it's your costume feeling different than what you feel wearing in the studio. Or someone misses a step. Someone falls. The orchestra's too fast. There's so many things that can cause you to be removed from the present. That if you can depend on your body, knowing what it needs to do, you're going to be fine. And so, your performance won't be perfect, but it can be perfect by the standards of whoever is watching it and gets what they feel from you. And to me, that it can be perfect. And so, I think not to be hard on yourself, but to be present and just go with what it is you're feeling. [MUSIC PLAYING] As a dancer and as a performer, the challenge that's so interesting for me is what you do when things go wrong or whatever wrong means. It's how you recover. I've had times when I've been doing a variation, I'm on the stage by myself, and I will literally fall on my face. And the whole audience is like, and then I'm like OK, now I have to get up and I have to win them back. Or make them calm down and not feel scared. And then I also, within my own mind, it's like I have to let it go because I still have an entire ballet or the rest of the variation to finish. There is always a different way to grow, to learn, and to approach it. I don't think that you're doomed as a dancer. I think that you're going to change, and you're going to grow, and you're going to go through ups and downs. And there's even famous dancers and big dancers that I've known throughout my career, and even myself, I have certain periods or maybe a whole year or a whole season where I just, for whatever reason, don't feel confident. Or don't feel good onstage. Or there's something off. And I think that's what's really amazing, too, is that you can learn more about yourself and the artists that you want to become through those hard times. So that it's not just this easy one note life and career of a dancer. But that you're constantly dealing with whatever is coming at you. And I think that's when you really take the biggest leaps is when you go through something like that and you have to reassess yourself and find it in a different way. And so I think it's good to have those struggles and ups and downs. And then be able to, again, step back and not feel complacent. It's really powerful to be able to accept all sides of yourself. And that you're not perfect. And you're going to have hard days, and ups and downs, and feel insecure sometimes. And I think that's what makes us so incredible as human beings. [MUSIC PLAYING] If I had to...

Bring emotion to life

As the first African American female principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland made history. Now she’s one of the world’s most influential dancers, and she’s inviting you to the barre to develop a deeper appreciation for ballet and the language of dance. From pliés to partners, Misty demonstrates her techniques and teaches you to own your movement, own who you are, and do the dance only you can do.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I loved Misty's class. I would recommend this class for non ballerinas. Anyone can learn from and be inspired by her story.

I'm quite experienced at ballet so the class provided many insights that I didn't have before. It's useless for beginners.

Wonderful story, depth and mastery. Thank you for advocating against racism in ballet.

I liked the technique segment at the bar. I also enjoyed the segment where she took adversity when she was injured and learned how to work her body a different way making her stronger in areas that she never expected. That is how life is and it really made me think.


A fellow student

Again Misty talks about the importance of being present in the moment. It helps one convey the story and the emotion. We are all human and make mistakes. Recover and go on and deliver your performance.


I wish I had this kind of philosophy and guidance when I was performing. Unfortunately, the dance world was less open and much more dismissive in the past. Dancer's didn't have much of a voice anywhere but the stage. So nice to be spoken to kindly and have a "prima assoluta" share and divulge her inner most feelings etc....