My favourite reality tv show is So You Think You Can Dance. Here’s why: (1) It’s one of the few reality shows that actually promotes and showcases real talent, as opposed to perfect eyebrows or general shininess, (2) I never close out a show without finding a new song to download, and (3) Cat Deeley’s endless leggy blondness is a real delight. I mean really, she has managed to bottle delightfulness and cover herself with it. It’s quite lovely to watch.
Anyway, when I say something is my favourite reality show, that means that it’s the one thing I’ll binge watch when I literally have nothing else I could be doing. This in turn means that I watch SYTYCD about once a year. Last weekend was my chance to catch up on Season 11 (they are currently half way through Season 12, so you know, I’ll maybe watch that in 2017). Misty Copeland- prima ballerina/principal dancer extraordinaire, was a judge on 3 episodes. I was thrilled. I, like many girls, wanted to be a ballerina when I was little. I went to a few classes, felt awkward and out of place, and that (plus what was likely a lack of innate talent) meant it became one of the many dreams left on the cutting room floor of childhood. It’s lovely, therefore, to see a girl with skin like mine doing it- and more than being a sort of nameless icon, Copeland herself is a beautiful dancer and an engaging person to watch. I went along and did some research on her, to fully develop my girl crush. I read articles, interviews, a ‘day-in-the-life’ of…and came away with some strong facts. I’ve distilled them into bite sized pieces of wisdom for whoever, like me, would like to be a bit more like Misty Copeland.
FACT: Almost everyone on the internet who writes about Misty refers to her muscular legs. Seriously. The kindest example I can find is in the The Telegraph: “Her legs, often referred to as unusually muscular, are incredible: strong but lean, as if carved from marble.” I would think having muscular legs as a ballerina would be so par for the course as to be unnecessary to mention, but clearly, the same rules that apply to Serena Williams apply to Misty- when you’re a black lady, every muscle must be lovingly identified and named by the press.
ADVICE: Obviously, sort your legs out. Lots of plies, and squats, and calf raises. Go for a run in a pair of Christian Louboutin So Kate’s. Don’t stop until your legs look like this:
FACT: Misty herself makes much of the support and general loveliness she gets from her boyfriend of 10 years, Olu Evans. She says of him: “He taught me to communicate in ways I’d never learned before, to not run away from problems, and sit down and think about things critically. And he made me feel like I really did have a bright future as a ballerina.”
ADVICE: Find yourself your own Olu Evans as follows: Move to New York and find Taye Diggs. Ask him if he has another cousin (Evans is Diggs’s cousin, FYI). If he does, kidnap said cousin and through a complicated regime of mild torture and bosom-comfort, get cousin to fall in love with you. Marry cousin. (If Taye Diggs does not have another cousin available, just find any guy called Olu and use alchemy and magic to make him perfect.)
She met him at a club in Chelsea in 2004. Tall and fit, with a pair of dimples that made her heart flutter, he was with the actor Taye Diggs, his cousin, when he spotted her on the dance floor. Ten years later, they’re still together.
FACT: Misty is friends with Prince. I know, but for real. This is true. She has been in his music videos and performed on stage with him, but more importantly she has played basketball with him. Contrary to all the information we have been given to date, she says he is “super normal”.
ADVICE: You can’t become friends with Prince so don’t even try. What you can do however is find a lesser celebrity of comparable mysticism (heh), like maybe Lenny Kravitz or Tilda Swinton or Jaden/Willow Smith. I can’t tell you what they will do for you, exactly, but I can tell you that their friendship will change you in deep and scary ways such that you’ll understand what the hell feng shui is all about, you’ll start holidaying in places that don’t exist, and you’ll probably take to wearing only one colour for the rest of your life. These are all good things, I think.
FACT: Misty is a shopaholic.
ADVICE: Buy everything.
FACT: More than being one of too-few talented women of colour in professional ballet, Copeland is perfect at what she does. She has worked very long and very hard, but was also a prodigy- learning to dance en pointe in only 3 months, which usually takes people years. Her talent is undeniable- and she has used that talent to propel her to the top of the dance world, write two best-selling books, and star in an Under Armour commercial that has netted her millions of viewers and a very healthy paycheck.
ADVICE: Be excellent at whatever it is you already do relatively well, then monetize it.. Now, it may be that the only thing you’re good at is sleeping in. Don’t despair- go for it. Learn to sleep for days on end without waking. Pretty soon you’ll become a medical marvel. Get a savvy relative or your spouse to charge people to come and see you drool and snore in all your soporific glory. (Make sure the Guinness Book of Records are involved.) Give a few groggy interviews when you’re awake about how mindfulness is best achieved when the mind is asleep and how living your best life is only possible when you’re literally living your dreams. Learn to record your dreams and premiere each new whimsical installment at the local IMAX. As Misty says, You Will What You Want.