Misty Copeland has been a role model for minority dancers since the beginning of her career. As the first African-American woman appointed to be a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, Copeland has been recognized for challenging the norm of the dance community, while overcoming personal challenges related to body image as well.
Later in her career, Copeland broke another barrier in the dance world, by becoming the first dancer to be endorsed by Under Armour. As they re-branded to appeal to a wider variety of athletic activities, including dance, yoga, and Pilates, the fitness apparel company chose Copeland due to her unique and relatable history.
This photo was one of Copeland’s first ads with Under Armour, who have highlighted her most unique features as a dancer from the beginning. Copeland is more muscular and curvy than a traditional ballerina silhouette, so high-cut bottoms and cropped shirts are used to highlight these traits. Additionally, the photo is shot in an industrial setting rather than a typical dance studio, creating a more “tough” feel to the photo.
This photo, along with the rest of the images from Copeland’s Under Armour endorsement, command viewers to see dancers for the athletes that they are. While there is discrepancy in the dance and athletic communities about whether dance is a sport or an art, Copeland’s muscular, confident image sends a message that dancers are certainly athletes.