You don't have to be a dancer or ballet enthusiast to be familiar with Misty Copeland. Copeland started dancing when she was 13, and has had a long dance career, before she was ultimately promoted to principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater at 32, making her the first African-American dancer to ever be in this position. If you don't know much about the classical ballet world, the short time frame in which Copeland went from beginner, to professional performer, and then on to primary ballerina status is basically unheard of. In short, she's a prodigy.
When I got the call for a quick interview slot with Copeland while she's here in Australia promoting her new Under Armour Inspired by Misty Copeland Collection (and performing with The Australian Ballet in 'Sleeping Beauty', no less), I was quick to say yes. I asked her everything from training schedules, to her favourite face mask, to exactly what one of the world's premier ballerinas eats in a day.
Keep scrolling for the full Q&A.
Andy Green Courtesy of Under Armour
Byrdie Australia: What does your day on a plate look like?
Misty Copeland: My diet consists of a lot of nuts—I'm like a bird. I love dried fruit and things like that. If I'm working, I like to keep it really light and focus on what's going to give me energy, and what's going to keep me ready to do what I do. I love granola with peanut butter and a little bit of honey for breakfast, it's so good. I just mix it all together, sometimes with fruit or yoghurt.
I tend to eat the biggest meal at night. I love to cook, so I settle in and unwind with dinner. I don't eat meat, although I do eat fish, so a lot of fish and vegetables, and pasta too—I love pasta.
In my bag or when I'm training, I love sushi. It's easy, and doesn't leave me feeling heavy. I eat lots of salads too, and I add quinoa to keep me energised.
B: What about training? How much do you squeeze into the average day?
MC: I'm usually up around 8 a.m., which isn't too bad but it's because most dance companies work so late. I'll often perform until 11 or 12 at night, and I need some time to recover.
I do ballet class every morning from 10:15 a.m. until 11:45 a.m., and then rehearsals start at noon, and wrap up after dinner, so it's very long hours. Sometimes there's an hour break for lunch, but not all the time. That's why I like to keep snacks on hand at all times. I also drink lots of water. It's all I drink actually... except for Prosecco! That's a rehearsal day. A performance day I'll work from 10 a.m. until about 5 p.m., and then the show is at 7:30 p.m. and will go for most of the night.
I always dress appropriately for rehearsals, too. I live in the new Under Armour Inspired by Misty Copeland collection right now. It includes styles that I love to have in my closet and wear, whether I’m out on a date with my husband, to and from rehearsals, or with my friends out on the town.
Andy Green Courtesy of Under Armour
B: What do you love to do to wind down and look after your body after all of the training?
MC: There's a few things that I do; I see someone once a week if I'm in rehearsal, and twice if I'm performing for a bit of body work. It's not relaxing in any way, it's extremely painful, but it realigns my body and ensures my muscles are all released. He mixes chiropractic work, acupuncture and massage too, and it really is a must for me. It's hard when I'm on the road, as I only ever see the one person.
B: And what about beauty? Are there any practices you love to indulge in?
MC: I love to unwind with my favourite beauty products. I never wear makeup during the day, because during performance periods I wear so so much makeup all the time. There's nothing I love more than a clean and hydrated face.
B: What do you use to take your makeup off post-performance?
MC: Obviously, performance makeup is very intense. I'm really basic when it comes to removing it, probably because I'm exhausted. I use a couple of Neutrogena makeup wipes, because after performance I can't be bothered with a long process.
B: With such a demanding schedule, how do you avoid getting burnt out?
MC: It's all about balance and pacing myself. Being here in Australia, it's interesting to see how different companies work. The Australia Ballet perform more than any other company I've experienced, so you need to understand, as a professional, how to take care of your body. I think as adults, we can all relate to that.
If I have time to get a 30 minute nap in, I'll do it. You'll find me on the floor of the dressing room in an eye mask and a blanket as it's so important. I always listen to sleep music when I get home as well. I love to just watch things on YouTube; it helps me switch off.