How Misty Copeland Approaches the Day

Tuesdays through Saturdays, Misty Copeland practices from 10 in the morning to 7 in the evening.

Ballerinas are athletes, she’s always said. There’s real work that goes into the picture-perfect performances you see at Lincoln Center on Friday evening.

Before rehearsal, right when she wakes up, she has a bagel and coffee, reminds herself that it’s a new day, another chance given to her to improve.

Ms. Copeland, as much of the world knows, is the first African-American female soloist in the American Ballet Theatre. She’s been dancing for 20 years, with ABT for 16 of those. “A deeply expressive artist,” the Washington Post said, “with a unique, lush and very personal way of moving.”

And yet she still begins her day with a ballet class. At the barre, in front of the mirror, plies, turnouts, exercises across the floor that she’s done over and over for years and years. She approaches the day as if it could be the last, she says. Because as an athlete, you just never know.

So she pushes her edges, finds ways to grow, looks at her calluses as trophies. And one summer day, she shared with Cosmopolitan that her mindset about it all was this:

“I approach every day like it’s my first ballet class.”

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