American Exceptionalism In Motion – The Misty Copeland Experience

Good news, my fellow Americans: we still have it in us.  And by “it” I mean the guts and grit to keep pursuing perfection.  There is no doubt that America is in a serious slump right now.  But I always forget about how distressed American politics are whenever I happen to come across a still shot of Misty Copeland.  Or better still, if I catch a clip of her performing classic ballet like no woman I’ve ever seen.  For a moment, she just blasts all of that out of my mind.  And if you know anything about Misty’s story you know it doesn’t get any more American than the lovely Miss Copeland.


When you dig the fact that privilege played no role in her ascendance to the very top of the world of professional dance you can’t help but feel proud to be a part of the nation where that happened.  Misty isn’t just the embodiment of power, grace and beauty,  she is the embodiment of America at her very best.  America needs to aspire to the power, grace and beauty that Misty carries so effortlessly.

But of course, it only looks effortless.  The brutalizing training regimen and practice sessions she had to endure are well beyond what the average person can imagine.  She didn’t lie, cheat, steal or con her way into becoming a woman that can capture perfection over and over again night after night, year after year.  She earned what she has entirely on merit and it is as obvious as the sun hanging in the sky.


The purpose of art is to inspire and watching her dance does exactly that.  It serves as a reminder of how important it is that we continue to pursue perfection despite the obstacles in our path and our missteps- the big ones and the small ones.  I don’t know what she’s like off stage, but when she’s up there doing her thing I know what she represents and what we’re capable of at our best.  And I remember that this ugly episode is going to pass- we’re going to get through this and come out on the other side.  POTUS 45 will be a cautionary tale for generations to come but Misty will be an experience we’ll hold forever.

We have taken a serious beating lately but we hopeful people who call ourselves Americans are resilient.  Over the last several years we have learned more about ourselves than we probably cared to know.  We may not be as evolved as we thought we were.  We’ve got work to do –  but we have to remember that we also have Misty Copeland.  So we CAN’T be all that bad.

∞ π

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