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The Value of Mentorship

Misty Copeland

Lesson time 6:51 min

Misty talks about mentorship, including the support she received from Raven Wilkinson, one of the first Black ballerinas with a major dance company. Calvin Royal III shares his story of being mentored by Misty.

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Topics include: Misty's Mentor: Raven Wilkinson • Misty as a Mentor: Calvin Royal III


[MUSIC PLAYING] - To be able to find support, to find mentorship, I think it's really about accepting and being ready to take that in. Because I think that when I was younger, and I just don't think that I was in a place where I was mature enough. It didn't matter who came into my life or who, you know, crossed my path. I didn't know they were there because I wasn't ready. So I think it's first kind of acknowledging that and if you-- if you feel that you really want it. And then I think it's just not being afraid to approach people. And I know it can be scary, you know, whether it's a teacher, whether it's another dancer. I think it's really important to have a community around you, a support system, mentors, people that are going to be there for you on those days when you just aren't strong enough to do it yourself. I think something that gave me, you know, a strength within me was when I found the black dance community, that it's out there. And I think that it's given me a purpose beyond what I ever imagined my purpose would be. And it made me feel that I'm so much more capable of being more than just a ballerina. [MUSIC PLAYING] When I first moved to New York City, I wasn't really that aware of a lot of black classical dancers. You know, I'd seen some in "Dance Magazine" or "Pointe Magazine" as a student, but I didn't really know their stories. Like, their stories weren't being told. Like, OK, I can see of a photo of Lauren Anderson on the cover of a magazine, but, like, who is she? Like, what's her story? What's her struggle? How-- how is she me? And I felt like I never had that opportunity. And then I watched this documentary on the ballet "Russe de Monte Carlo," which was a ballet company in the '50s. And I saw this black woman come on the screen and start talking about how she was in this company, and she was a ballerina. And there was just something that clicked within me, that I wasn't expecting at all to hear her voice and to really-- it was like this recognition that I saw, like, myself within her. And it was just shocking. And it kind of just, like, flipped my world upside down in terms of, like, how I looked at my career. And she just gave me this fuel to, like, to do something. And then when I found out that she was alive, still, and she lived a block away from me, it was just another layer of, oh, my gosh, like, this is meant to be. And she became a really close friend and mentor. And finding out that she'd been supporting my entire professional career, and had been following my story even when before I became a professional, that type of support, I think, is so vital. And had I not found out about her story, and had I not felt this sense of mentorship from her, I don't know where I would be. And so I just-- that, to me, was just so clear about the importance of having visibility of people of all different cultures, to be able to give the opportunity of a young person, to see that potential or future...

About the Instructor

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.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Misty Copeland

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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