American Ballet Theatre fans were disappointed when an injury sidelined soloist Misty Copeland at the end of last year’s spring season. But the unexpected downtime allowed Copeland to pursue other projects–including a television commercial for Dr Pepper, which is currently airing. Copeland talked to Pointe‘s e-news about her participation in the brand’s “/1” campaign and preparing for ABT’s upcoming season at the Metropolitan Opera House.
Why did the Dr Pepper campaign appeal to you?
As a ballerina it’s rare to get this kind of commercial exposure. I liked that the campaign was about one-of-a-kind stories, which are often hard for ballet dancers to tell. Trying to be an individual in a company of 80 isn’t easy!
There’s been some pushback on social media about a dancer advertising for a soft drink. What’s your response to those kinds of comments?
I’m all about health, of course. But I always say that I never diet, and that I like to indulge in everything in moderation. Having an occasional soda is OK, the same way having an occasional cookie is OK.
Even now you’re not yet fully recovered from your injury. How have you been coping with it?
Injuries always wake you up, in a way. You reassess your body, and you look at dance from a new perspective. Physically speaking, every day I do Pilates or Gyrotonic or hit the elliptical, and I’m finally starting ballet class again, to rev up for the Met season. They always say that when you’re a dancer, the work never really ends until you retire.
What are you looking forward to dancing this season?
I’m doing the lead in the first movement of Symphony in C during the first week, and revisiting the part of Gulnare in Le Corsaire the second. I haven’t really looked past that! I’m taking it one week at a time. I know a lot of it will be familiar. But even the roles I’ve danced for 10 years can be challenging.
A lot of ABT dancers are very famous within the ballet world, but you’re unique in terms of the degree of fame you’ve achieved outside of it. Is that intimidating, or inspiring?
I feel like it’s been organic for me. It’s not like I was thrust into the spotlight overnight. From the moment I started dancing I had media all around me, first because I started so late and was black, and then as an adult because I was curvy. But I’m proud to be a role model. I like people to see me as a real person and not this untouchable ballerina.