Paintings Come to Life: Misty Copeland Channels Edward Degas

Misty Copeland

I have admired Misty Copeland’s dancing since I first saw her perform in a Prince concert. I remember thinking “this girl is going to make it big.” And she did. She still is – writing her own story and inspiring dreams in aspiring dancers. Referring to herself as an “unlikely ballerina,” Copeland is renowned as the first African-American woman to be named a principal dancer at the American Ballet Company. Acclaimed for her incredible ability to execute many different forms of dance, moving from the classical to modern genre effortlessly, Copeland is quickly becoming a household name.

In a new exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, Misty Copeland brings the famous paintings of Degas to life. The juxtaposition of dancer and painting highlights the unlikely similarities between Copeland and Degas. Both broke the boundaries of their respective art form, instilling a modern sensibility in their work. But more than that, Degas showcased dancers in a new light, illuminating the traditionally overlooked and drawing on aspects of modern daily life. Copeland, in the same way, displays a modern presence and power in her dancing. Her hard work is highlighted in her incredible strength of both spirit and body, which, exemplifies the diligence and practice Degas saw within the dancing world. The images overlap the artistic worlds of dance, sculpture, and painting in an incredible testament to the ability of various arts to influence one another and inspire sentiment in viewers and audience members alike.\

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