Born in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in San Pedro, California, Misty Copeland began her ballet studies at the age of 13 at the San Pedro Dance Center. At the age of fifteen she won first place in the Music Center Spotlight Awards. She then began her studies at the Lauridsen Ballet Center. Copeland has studied at the San Francisco Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre's Summer Intensive on full scholarship and was declared ABT's National Coca-Cola Scholar in 2000. She has danced Kitri in Don Quixote and the Sugar Plum Fairy and Clara in The Nutcracker.
Copeland joined ABT's Studio Company in September 2000 and then joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in April 2001 and was appointed a Soloist in August 2007. Her roles with the Company include a Shade and the Lead D'Jampe in La Bayadère, Milkmaid in The Bright Stream, Blossom in Cinderella, the Mazurka Lady in Coppélia, Gulnare and and Odalisque in Le Corsaire, the lead gypsy and a flower girl in Don Quixote, Duo Concertant, the Masks in Christopher Wheeldon's VIII, the peasant pas de deux in Giselle, one of The Nutcracker's Sisters in Alexei Ratmanksy's The Nutcracker, a Gypsy in Petrouchka, the Lead Polovtsian Girl in Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor, the Saracen Dancer in Raymonda, a Harlot in Romeo and Juliet, the Fairy of Valor in The Sleeping Beauty, the pas de trois, a cygnet and the Hungarian Princess in Swan Lake, the Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux and roles in Airs, Amazed in Burning Dreams, Baker's Dozen, Ballo della Regina, Birthday Offering, The Brahms-Haydn Variations, Brief Fling, Company B, Désir, Gong, Hereafter, In the Upper Room, Overgrown Path, Pretty Good Year, Sechs Tänze, Sinatra Suite, Sinfonietta, Within You Without You: A Tribute to George Harrison and workwithinwork.
Copeland created the Spanish Dance in Ratmansky's The Nutcracker and leading roles in C. to C. (Close to Chuck), Dumbarton, Glow-Stop and One of Three.
Copeland was a receipient of a 2008 Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts.
Ms. Copeland's performance's with American Ballet Theatre are sponsored by Harriette Cole.