Photographer Gregg Delman says he first came across the icon that is Misty Copeland in a magazine in 2011. Captivated by her gaze and chiseled physique, he cold-called Copeland’s agent to see if he could book a shoot with the ballerina.
This was, of course, before Copeland became the first African-American woman to rise to the position of principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater. Still, as Delman recounts in the introduction to his new photography book, Misty Copeland, she was a busy woman even then. Delman ended up securing one session, and then six or seven more ― eventually producing a collaborative collection of images that celebrate the most well-known force in 21st-century ballet as she jumps, twists and stares powerfully into the camera.
“Copeland has singlehandedly infused diversity and personality into the insular world of ballet, creating an audience for ballet in popular culture and changing the way that the contemporary world sees this classic dance form,” a description of the book, published by Rizzoli, reads. “Copeland shattered the color barrier in ballet, becoming both an inspiration and icon.”
Copeland added her own words to the book’s foreword, echoing ballet’s ability to communicate something more than just dance. “Although ballet is movement, it’s also an incredibly visual art form,” she writes. “We tell many stories with our bodies.”
Ahead of the book’s publication, take a sneak peek at Delman’s images below. Misty Copeland will be available beginning Sept. 27.