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Misty's Technical Transformation

Misty Copeland

Lesson time 8:31 min

Misty opens up about some of the errors she’s made in past performances, explaining how she’s dealt with criticism and revealing her technical transformation to rebuild strength and increase quality of movement.

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] MISTY COPELAND: Always striving to be better has allowed me to constantly be open to starting over. And I've gone through so many different teachers and looking at different ways to approach ballet. Because in my mind, I always felt that every dancer should be able to do everything. I don't truly believe in someone being a turner, someone being a jumper. I think if you have the right training, you can accomplish everything in the technical, like, repertoire. And so I believe that a lot of the injuries that I've had are because of not knowing how to work correctly. And I think that my hypermobility has caused a lot of that. My most severe injury that I've had in my career were six stress fractures to my left tibia. I think that could have been prevented had I had the right muscle strength around my knees and support. And it's frustrating, you know, when I was at, I don't know, 35 years old and I still wasn't able to accomplish certain steps. It's like, I just didn't want to give in to that, well, you're so hypermobile and your legs are so hyperextended and your feet are so flexible, so you're just not going to be able to hop en pointe. It was like, I just can't accept that. It's really crazy. But I, like, started over, like, six months ago, like getting rid of-- trying to get rid of, as much as you can, in my muscle memory, to taking on a different way of approaching ballet, which is very simple. For the first time, I've started to develop muscle around my knees, making my glutes stronger and my lower back and my hips. And by building that strength and muscle, it's actually made my legs straighter and taken away a lot of the mobility that was a little bit too much for me. And so it's just seems really simple, that I do have the ability to strengthen my body and get it to do whatever it is I want it to. [MUSIC PLAYING] When I was given the opportunity to learn "Swan Lake," I was still a soloist at the time. And it was shocking. I never, ever thought that I would take on that role. It's just not something that ever even crossed my mind, I think probably subconsciously, because that's just not a role that a black woman is given. So when I first approached the role, I didn't really have any real thoughts about any of the technical difficulties of it. And when I did the ballet for the first time with the American Ballet Theater, I was in Australia. And looking back, like, it was so easy. I mean, not easy, but it was not-- there were no real challenges. I did the 32 fouettés. I finished, and you know, everyone was so happy. They thought, wow, you know, I think because of the late age that I was given that opportunity and my maturity and having watched so many different generations of ballerinas throughout my career in the company, that it was as if it wasn't my first time. And then the first time that I did it in New York City, I think that's when it all kind of, like, hit me, that the expectations that ar...

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.

It is has inspired me to realize how blessed I've been to have been a part of the wonderful world of ballet. It's a presence and a way of carrying oneself that is very readily recognized!

it's allot more motivating ,But I would have loved to see more profeshional techniues .An the classes are short I mean really short!

I take ballet. And, by watching this Master Class I have gained more strength, turn out, and muscles.

I appreciate Misty sharing her knowledge and her path...its inspiring and as a fellow dancer, ecourages me to keep going no matter what. Im tall for the country I live in so dance has been hard for me...but Im not stopping, because what makes me different...makes me unique!!!



Love hearing how Misty started over and re-trained her body and continues to strive to train her body to be stronger and avoid injury. As an older dancer myself who is coming back from knee surgery, it's wonderfully motivating to be taking on this approach Misty is sharing to help me retrain my own hypermobile body and strengthen my knees in a way I never really have before. And also to hear about how she has faced criticism - a dancer is more than the number of turns she can execute - indeed! So very inspiring!

A fellow student

I appreciated Misty being vulnerable about her feelings when she was criticized and how maturely she acknowledged the difference and also shared her philosophy of telling a story, not just counting the fouettés.

M S.

She is at such a high level of stress, very hard to listen. It's almost like she will burst into tears at any point. I noticed how my breathing became shallow and the heartbeat increased just by listening to her. In my opinion, ballerinas have to learn how to deal with stress, it's a part of the profession, otherwise physical and emotional traumas and burns out will become inevitable. I hope she will find a way to heal asap.

Hildelisa H.

What a relief to have somebody as successful as her to say: this time on this show or this season I was feeling pressured in a different way and that resulted on my body not being able to do what knows how to do. I am a professionally trained soprano, and it is the reality of life as an artist, one concert, one night, one phrase done differently does not bring your expertise down at all. Brave!!

Brooklynn G.

Thank you so much for the advice, as a younger dancer I really appreciate it.

Gretchen T.

I'm very excited for this class. I am a classically trained soprano but have a passion and interest in ballet. I never got to do it as a child. I have taken some adult classes though.

Goi H.

Was at the Singapore swanlake. I remembered it to be beautiful. However, Honestly i was also disappointed about the fouetté cos as a ballerina we are forced to learn all the technical so we expected to see the technical performed by the goddess of ballet herself. But now to hear the sad story from her point view. Okay i guess as dancers we all can relate to that. Wouldn’t call those unhappy audiences bullies either... great lesson on moving on and never stop improving!


I love it. As I was watching, I was just wondering if Misty has hyper-extended knees because of training or was she born that way. At my first ballet school, they wanted hyper-extended knees and the teacher would force my knees up during stretching exercises. Should I be striving to have hyper-extended knees? I am 12...Are having or trying to have hyper-extended knees good for a ballet dancer?


Yes, I had not heard of Misty before this MasterClass, though when she said 35, I thought she was speaking of someone else! -MasterClass is on my New Years Goals, so I'll be on here Daily! -May Your Year Be Great!

A fellow student

It was very eye opening! I loved hearing her side of the history of ballet in a different light and just how she mentioned the work ethic of quality movement over repetition.