Misty Copeland barely has a second to lace up her ballet slippers. This week alone, the history making dancer appeared on Good Morning America and The View, finalized plans to hit Lincoln Center for a screening of her new movie, and kept up with her whirlwind dance schedule.
“It’s extremely grueling,” Copeland told EW of her time spent practicing. “Just as much time as you put into the studio preparing, you spend that much time undoing all the damage you’re doing. It’s this constant balance.”
“I start at 10:15 a.m. every morning and I do an hour-and-a-half ballet class, get a 15-minute break, and then I pretty much work 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.,” she continued. “That’s five days a week. When we’re in season it’s six days a week, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., in the theater rehearsing and performing. Then, when you’re not on the stage, you’re getting physical therapy and you’re getting massages – it’s just this constant battle of finding balance. On top of it, I was doing so much outside of American Ballet Theatre, so it’s never a dull moment.”
Copeland, 33, has spent the past few years exceeding expectations and shaking up the famously rigid world of dance as she worked her way to becoming American Ballet Theater’s first female African-American principal dancer. This evolution – both for Copeland and the dance company – is documented in the new movie, A Ballerina’s Tale.
Out Wednesday in select theaters and on VOD, the documentary follows Copeland as she nurses a potentially career-ending injury, gets back on her feet, and, as fans know, makes history in the dance world.
“The question was always, of course, what was Misty’s journey going to be?” director Nelson George told EW. “Was she gonna come all the way back? I’ll say this, there’s no way we could’ve predicted where she is now. But I never doubted [her] getting back on stage. That I never doubted, because she’s one of the strongest people I’ve ever met. She’s super-determined. So she was gonna get back on stage, but what was gonna happen after that… “
“We had no idea,” Copeland chimed in.
After she underwent surgery for stress fractures in her tibia, Copeland returned to New York’s Metropolitan Opera House, took on the lead role in the famed Swan Lake, and expanded her empire with the 2014 release of her memoir, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina and a talked-about endorsement deal with Under Armour.
“My entire career has been working and striving and proving, and it’s just exhausting. It’s so much more than just the work, which is exhausting in itself,” Copeland told EW, just days before ABT kicks off its Fall 2015 season. “I want to just enjoy this first season as a principal dancer and really just focus on that… So now I feel like I can actually sit back and kind of settle in to this position. That’s exciting.”