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Partner Workshop: White Swan Pas de Deux

Misty Copeland

Lesson time 10:37 min

Calvin Royal III, a soloist for American Ballet Theatre, joins Misty as she explains her approach to working through choreography. Watch as Misty and Calvin collaborate and finesse a piece rarely performed by two Black dancers.

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 am here with Calvin. He is a soloist with the American Ballet theater. - Hi, everybody. - We will be working through the White Swan pas de deux from "Swan Lake." Calvin is playing Prince Siegfried, and I am-- I'm Odette. - Odette, yeah. - Yes. So in this scene, we have just, I guess, met not that long before this scene happens. It's kind of this, like, tense energy that's still happening between us, because I'm trying to protect myself, as well as, like, my flock of swans. And we don't really trust this human being. - And he's also trying to sort of assure her that-- - He's not going to. - --he's not dangerous. - Yeah. - He's just curious about who you are-- MISTY COPELAND: Yeah, who I am. CALVIN ROYAL III: --and this swan kingdom. MISTY COPELAND: Yeah. We literally have never, ever rehearsed it together, so this would be the first time. And I think that it's really cool, then, to see, like, a really organic, real process about just how much, you know, it's really a collaboration when you are working with a partner, and just how, like, slight and small the adjustments are that you need to make, based on, like, a different dancer that you're dancing with. Like you can't partner everyone the same. You know, there's such a process. Like you start your training. And then for women, you know, after a certain number of years or until you're ready and strong enough, then you go en pointe. And then you start working with a partner. So you're really kind of strong enough. Partnering is not just all about the man just kind of having to hold you up. - Yeah. - But you have to be able to do that on your own for the most part. - Mm-hmm. - And then it becomes just like a more organic kind of looking thing, so you're not kind of like fighting against each other. Yeah, so we'll show you the process. All righty, so-- - So we should start from-- - Yeah, I mean, just, from the beginning. - From the beginning, okay. - Okay. CALVIN ROYAL III: So-- - I think your partner, I mean, the number one thing is trust. It's absolutely trust. Oh, nice. - It's important to learn how to communicate what you need and what feels uncomfortable and work through that. - I think-- I am getting that floor support. I think that was so good. - Yeah. - I think that once I come up from the penché, to have me, I think, lower in the hips. - Lower. - Yeah. - To the plié? - Yeah, just so that-- yeah, that's great. Because I think when it's-- Okay, - That's too high. - Yeah. Yeah, I'm short. There's a lot of adjustments that need to be made when-- because he's so tall, and I'm really short. But my feet are really long. So when I go en pointe, it's-- you know, it works. But then all of a sudden, I go down to the floor, and it's like, oh, got to make adjustments. - Got to make adjustment, yeah. Yeah. - Yeah, that was good, okay. - Ok...

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 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!!!

Misty provides such insight into her journey, uniquely carved within a classical form steeped in tradition. Her focus on the individuation possible while shaping a creative path gives encouragement and hope to all artists.

I'm a San Diego State University staff member that was offered an opportunity by the University to join Master Class programs. I was not very familiar with Misty Copeland though I recognized her name. Her master class has opened my eyes to her personal experience & her dedication to her dance. Wonderful & touching.

The reinforcement of trying new things and the endless ability as humans to never stop learning. I’m 68 year old ballerina who started dancing in my late twenties and fell passionately in love and I’ve never stopped taking class and continue learning more every class.


A fellow student

It was enlightening to know that the choreography is set, but there are little ways that the dancers can make the interpretation his or her own. Good to see the communication between the two as they refine the movements to work for them. This is the same in theatre...communicate with the other actor.

Angelica E.

Misty and Calvin are fantastic, but the editing doesn't help to see their body movements which is essential to learn how to dance correctly.