Misty Copeland

Misty Copeland

*Director Nelson George gives viewers a peek into the incredible life of Misty Copeland, the first black principal dancer of New York’s American Ballet Theatre … or of any ballet company, period.

“A Ballerina’s Tale: The Incredible Rise of Misty Copeland,” airing tonight on PBS, moves quickly through the the prima ballerina’s unstable upbringing in San Pedro, Calif., but nestles at length into the historic lack of diversity in Misty’s chosen profession – addressing the artform’s  stubborn insistence on sylphlike, porcelain-hued Giselles through Misty’s personal reflections.

“I think that people think that sometimes I focus too much on the fact that I’m a black dancer,” Copeland says in the film. “There’s never been a black principal woman …in the top companies of the world. In New York City Ballet, in New York City. I don’t think people realize what a feat it is, being a black woman. But that’s so much of who I am, and I think it’s so much a part of my story.”


“A Ballerina’s Tale” also chronicles the multiple shin stress fractures that became unbearable for Misty as she premiered in the lead of Firebird. George and his cameras had full access to Misty during her surgery and long road to recovery, capped by her historic role as Odette/Odile in Swan Lake.

misty copeland under armour

Misty Copeland for Under Armour

In Jan 2015, Copeland talked to us about the impact of her commercial for Under Armour, which marked the first time an athletic wear company used a ballerina to promote its brand.

“A Ballerina’s Tale: The Incredible Rise of Misty Copeland” airs tonight on PBS. (Check local listings.)

Watch a clip below, followed by the official trailer: