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Diversity and Inclusion in Ballet

Misty Copeland

Lesson time 6:39 min

Misty speaks to her hope for a legacy that fosters more inclusivity in ballet. She urges you to actively participate in the conversation around diversity to change the perception of what a ballet dancer should be.

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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No matter what color you are, no matter what gender, no matter what age, all of it, that it's important, I think, to find a place where you're going to thrive. And if you're trying to fit into a situation where you're just not wanted or you're not being treated well, like to me, it's pointless. I could probably attest to most dancers feeling at times like overwhelmed and frustrated and like they wanted to quit. And I've definitely been there a couple of times throughout my career. There were times when I was just so frustrated and didn't know how to go about approaching that conversation of diversity or trying to have conversations with people that I was close to in the company and just being frustrated with them not understanding or maybe not believing that it was my reality or that it happened to other dancers. And I went and actually auditioned with Dance Theatre of Harlem when I was quite young still. Arthur Mitchell had invited me. And he became a mentor of mine. And I really did think about, you know, maybe it'll just be easier if I'm surrounded by dancers who look like me. That day really just was another time that things just clicked. And it was like, yes, this would be amazing to be in the support of a community that I'm a part of. But it's not going to make change. Going there and meeting Arthur gave me a sense of my purpose again and what I truly wanted. And that was always to dance for American Ballet Theatre. And I think once I found that voice, it's pushed me to do things and to create projects that are going to hopefully further that mission of bringing more diversity to classical dance. It can be extremely frustrating when you're answering the same types of questions about where the ballet world should be going. It's really difficult when you still have young people that are being traumatized at a young age because they don't have teachers that know enough, like maybe know how to speak to them. Or they're in a good situation where they're being protected from being told that their hair will never be able to go into a certain style because of the texture of it or that they have to wear makeup a certain way to make their features appear more European. I think we have so far to go. But all we can do is continue to push that conversation forward, whether it's having teachers that look like the dancers they're teaching, the dancers on the stage who are performing representing everyone in the world and especially in America, what America looks like, that's what we should see represented on the stage. But especially in the schools, I think that the more opportunity we give to include everyone, then you'll have a larger pool of diverse dancers to pull from when they are ready to become a professional dancer. I think a lot of that is about the access that they have, giving communities who don't maybe have the funds to be a part of a school. You know, I think that's what keeps a lot of people away from ballet is how ...

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.

Learned what it takes to be a professional ballerina.

Wonderful woman, dancer, artist, wonderful experience. Thank you for sharing. The film is also beautiful

Amazing barre exercises that I can't wait to try. Very informative, I would love more lessons.

It teached me the terminology and the language of the ballet. Also I've learned an ongoing struggle for people of color to make it in this industry.


Angela D.

I love dance. I can still remember going to a ballet class and the teacher glaring at me and making me feel as unwelcome as she could. I never went back. I went to jazz, modern, tap, and eventually belly dancing. I became a professional dancer and my legacy is still admired. I did not have the platform that Misty does but I believe in the value of dance and the power it can offer the dancer and the audience. Other than disagreeing that all dance comes from ballet I think Misty's understanding of dance, the value of diversity, her respect for those that came before her, and her passion and commitment for her style of dance is admirable. I watched part of this seminar - even the technique sections. I can relate to building your foundation in dance. I think it matters no matter the style you choose to express. Thank you, Misty; you are an organic and passionate speaker for diversity in dance and I appreciate hearing your voice.

A fellow student

Misty has certainly heightened my awareness about diversity in ballet. I see it in theater and other forms of dance, but now I am more conscious of it in ballet. Misty is poised, talented, warm, open, and real. She is gracious in inviting other to join in this special world of dance.

A fellow student

I love all your sessions, Misty! Especially the value of mentorship. Thank you :)

A fellow student

I have a dance background from many years ago and thoroughly enjoyed hearing Misty discuss the various aspects of dance techniques, artistry, working with other dancers and choreographers, etc. It was interesting to hear her perspective and insight of the world in which a dancer lived and now lives in today's world of the dance. Thank you Misty for presenting your lessons to us. Just one comment I would like to make is that there were quite a few moments in the video where Misty is being partnered and also in the contemporary section where the photographer cuts to the upper body too often. I found it annoying not to be able to see what was happening with her lower body, legs and feet..... as well as her partners. Otherwise, this was excellent. Bravo!

andrea B.

I loved these lessons. I am a dancer and just by taking this Master Class has helped me to understand the ballet technique and ballet in general.

Debbi C.

Amazing!!! I am a dance teacher in an "inner city" performing arts high school. I joined MasterClass when I saw that Misty Copeland had a class. She is an inspiration to me but more so to our dancers who have grown up with only wanting to dance hip hop or music video type dancing. Introducing pointe to a few dancers this year was crazy to many but having Misty's story to show them a professional ballet dancer that looked like them was a life changing moment for several dancers. I became emotional at the end of this series. I will be taking this class again!


Thank you, I am not a dancer but learnt so much about what ballet involves.


I'm not a dancer, but enjoyed every part of this masterclass. So nice getting to know this phenomenal person.

knitter I.

I was impressed with Misty's story. It makes me inspired. This is very interesting lesson. I learnt both of technique and how to keep ballerina mind.


Excellent! Coming from a different perspective ( a so-called white dancer in a primarily black company), I still had it easier. I was embraced by my company and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. So very happy to hear this topic being discussed and hopefully pushed into the foreground. The future success of the dance world depends on diversity and inclusion. Yes, Misty please go forward with your own productions, directing of, and any other projects that are born into your beautiful mind!❤️🧡💛💚💙💜🖤🤍💖