Acclaimed ballerina Misty Copeland to keynote Library’s annual lecture

Misty Copeland, who made history as the first Black woman promoted to principal dancer at the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, will be The Indianapolis Public Library’s featured speaker at the 45th Annual Marian McFadden Memorial Lecture.

The event will begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20, at the Madam Walker Legacy. After the lecture, Copeland will take part in a book signing. Tickets to the lecture are limited but free to the general public and available at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 1, at As seating is limited, a livestream of the event will be accessible on our YouTube channel.

Copeland is the author of several New York Times Bestselling books, including the memoir, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina. She has also published several children’s books including the award-winning Firebird, illustrated by Christopher Myers, and Bunheads, a biographical glimpse of young Misty as she makes friends and auditions for a role in Coppélia.

The Library has gifted free tickets to community organizations to ensure local youth have an opportunity to attend. Tickets have been gifted to Brightlane Learning, Iibada Dance Company, Shortridge High School, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Kids Dance Outreach, James Whitcomb Riley School 43, Basement Dance Company, Indianapolis School of Ballet, and Meraki Dance Company.

“We are excited to bring Misty Copeland to Indianapolis and we wanted to make sure that the people who could be inspired the most have an opportunity to hear her story,” said Shael Weidenbach, area resource manager of youth services with The Indianapolis Public Library. “We expect these free tickets to go fast, so we reached out to people and organizations working directly with young people interested in the arts.”

Traci Prescott, the fine arts coordinator with Indianapolis Public Schools, says she hopes this event will teach her students that there are no limitations on their opportunities.

“James Whitcomb Riley School 43 is reopening next school year as a K-5 visual and performing arts school. Right now, we are working to expose our students to as much music, art, dance, and theatre as possible prior to the reopening,” said Prescott. “Society has often told black and brown girls that their bodies do not “fit” the ballet mold, but Misty has smashed that barrier. We hope that seeing Misty and hearing her story through the gift of these tickets will open the minds of our students and show them that they, too, can do ballet and no door is closed to them.”

PHOTO ABOVE: Misty Copeland is not only a celebrated and ground-breaking ballerina, but also a prolific author.