Leaping over barriers

Misty Copeland in the lead role in Swan Lake.
Misty Copeland in the lead role in Swan Lake.PHOTO: BERNIE NG
Misty Copeland in the lead role in Swan Lake.
Misty Copeland in the lead role in Swan Lake.PHOTO: BERNIE NG

Misty Copeland is the American Ballet Theatre's first female African-American principal dancer and one of Time magazine's most influential people in the world

The story of Misty Copeland's meteoric rise to fame - from an impoverished childhood in a shabby motel to the world's stage as principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre - has made her something of an icon in the United States.

"Ballet has taught me to be strong and fearless and have a voice, and yet be feminine, elegant and poised. Every child should experience it. It's just as important as the education they are getting at school," says the 35-year-old (left), who played the lead role in Swan Lake at the Esplanade last Thursday.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2018, with the headline 'Leaping over barriers'. Print Edition | Subscribe