Sports & Gaming

Working With Choreographers

Misty Copeland

Lesson time 6:59 min

From her formative years through her experiences at American Ballet Theatre, Misty opens up about working with different choreographers, including Debbie Allen, Alexei Ratmansky, and Twyla Tharp.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Formative Years: Debbie Allen's Chocolate Nutcracker • ABT Soloist: Alexei Ratmansky's Nutcracker • ABT Principal Dancer: Twyla Tharp's Deuce Coupe


[MUSIC PLAYING] - I've been so fortunate to work with such an array of choreographers from such different walks of life. But again, I love a challenge, and I love having different experiences with people. I've worked with choreographers that come in and they have exactly what they want and how they want it done. And it's kind of up to you, or sometimes in collaboration with them, to try and find a way to make it work. To go in completely open-minded. Be willing to take on challenges and maybe not, not give in too soon to saying like, well, maybe we can try a different way. I think that you should come in with the approach of being a blank canvas. It's the right choice and move to come in and kind of let them create on you and to challenge yourself and see what you may be capable of that you didn't think you were. [MUSIC PLAYING] I believe I had been dancing for maybe a year and a half when I was first approached by Debbie Allen to perform in the "Chocolate Nutcracker." Working with Debbie, she always felt like the second mom to me. Like so much energy and so much fun. But I think the scariest thing for me, is that I had to memorize lines and I had an acting scene with Debbie Allen on the stage. I hate to re-traumatize you, but we're going to show it to you. Oh, my god. You have it? [MUSIC PLAYING] Oh. I've never seen this. Nutcracker. No, not just a nutcracker, honey, a chocolate nutcracker. Oh, my god. Made of pure milk chocolate. This is crazy. Oh, Auntie Pearl, it's so beautiful. I'll never eat it. Honey, at-- Watching that footage, I was so impressed with my acting. And like the fact that I can't believe I was speaking onstage. Like at that age when I really think back to the dancer and the person that I was, I literally was called Mouse and like I was like mute. People thought I couldn't speak in school, because I was that terrified of having a voice. And so it's just wild to like see the reality of how confident and how effortless things were for me when I was on the stage. I think at that point, I was starting to feel more confident about my ability as a dancer, even though it was still so early on. And to this day, I don't know how I did it. You know, the thought of being called on in school in class and having to read made me want to faint. And so I really have no idea how that happened. It must have been her warmth and her strength and encouragement that, you know, she just always made me feel like I was capable of doing anything. [MUSIC PLAYING] I've had so much connection in many ways to "The Nutcracker." And having performed it, you know, throughout my career at American Ballet Theater. In the Alexei Ratmansky version of "The Nutcracker," I'm actually playing the role of adult Clara. It's one of my favorite pieces to dance, because I'm telling a story through movement. What I notice and what I love about that version and the choreography, is that I'm all about fe...

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.

Explore the Class
Sign Up