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Technique Informs Artistry

Misty Copeland

Lesson time 5:53 min

Misty tells you why a dedication to mastering technique in the studio will help you create dynamic performances, and she motivates you to become a storyteller through movement 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] - Something that could be extremely helpful is to really look at your life and your life experiences and not trying to create something or take on what you think maybe the character may be. But really try and relate to them and what they may be going through based on what you may have gone through in your life. I experienced a lot of hardships from a young age. By the time I was 13, I had moved from many cities and had many stepfathers. And had been in underprivileged communities, lived in a motel. And I would say I had zero confidence. I think that it was because there was no real balance in my life. No structure. No consistency. No-- I didn't see a future. Like, I never knew what tomorrow would bring. And that made me feel insecure. It made me just scared and nervous about life. And it wasn't until music and dance came into my life that it made me confident. It gave me a sense of, like, what I wanted to say. And it gave me a way of saying it that I connected with. I think that from the first time I stepped onto a stage and I was 13-years-old playing the role of Clara, I was actually having feelings. And I remember my teachers saying to me, like, how are you able to become this character? And I don't think I understood at the time, but to this day, it's something that I draw from when I'm on stage. And I think it's definitely been beneficial to have experienced such a range of emotions from an early age. As an artist, you should use your imagination. I think that's why it's important to read books, to see movies, and from different genres, just to expand your mind and see how different people experience life. That's something that I've had and I still have to this day, that's been an advantage for me. [MUSIC PLAYING] I think something that I've always done maybe innately as a dancer was find a story because dancing is storytelling. And it's always been something that I've needed. I was capable as a young person of doing more abstract, maybe modern and contemporary works, but it brought more meaning. And it was easier, even technically, to do certain steps when I was saying something with those steps. I think that when I'm approaching different roles, I always do research about everything about the ballet. Where it's set. Was it hot during this time? What did the people wear? What did they eat? Whether it's a romantic ballet, where you'll have your hands on your hips, but they'll have to be softer and elbows slightly back. Or something that's more of a character role, like Kitri in the ballet "Don Quixote," where you have to understand the positioning of your hands on your hips. And that your elbows have to be forward and your shoulders back. The freedom that I think you can have as a dancer is maybe the way that you hear the music and you time things in a certain way. Or just your approach internally. I think that as much as it seems like it's probably a small thing, if you're thinking abou...

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.

Her life experience definitely helps me rethink about my own struggle. The basic warm-up for ballet can also be used to train my own posture and pre-work out.

clutching the idea of mind set having and that essence.

I loved this class. I do a little bit of dance, but it was fascinating to understand the technique and process.

This is really for my 13 year old, she loves this


Angela D.

The strength of a solid foundation informs everything in life. When you know how to do something you can speak your voice (artistry) and create meaning for yourself and others around you. Building up layers of skills takes dedication. It looks easy and that is the first sign that the person you are looking at has taken time to develop their skills and that their skills run deep. Misty has a wonderful way of making those points. Her sense of self in intoxicating. It makes her wonderful to watch and easy to listen to.

A fellow student

Misty gives rich insight into a dancer's performance. It's so much more than learning the choreography. It is the internal story that a dancer can bring to a role. It is what one's life experience can enrich the performance. Wow! She is on stage on so many levels.

Ly L.

I am a scientist and this class has taught me an incredible amount, just from Misty's beautiful life philosophy, her grace, her approach to professional challenges and personal struggles, she embodies the ideal ballerina in her personality and a great ambassador for her craft. I am interested in watching ballet now!


Love your story You dance so powerful and you inspired me to always try harder the next time and it does not matter what skin color you have.


thank you for sharing your interesting life and knowledge ! you are amazing