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The Muse

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In 2009, Copeland got an early-morning phone call. “I was asked if Prince could have my cell number,” she says. “I was literally still waking up. ‘What? Prince who?’ ” The pop star, as gifted at mentoring female virtuosity as making music, was looking for a ballerina for his video of “Crimson and Clover,”and he invited Cope­land to fly to L.A. the next day. “It was really just, ‘Be you, feel the music, just move,’ ” she says of the shoot. “I’m not used to that type of freedom. After every take, I’d ask him what he wanted, but he said, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing.’ ” Last summer, Copeland performed with Prince in Nice, France, and appeared on selected dates of his Welcome 2 America tour. “I think he sees someone who’s free and spiritual,” she says, “and he’s expressed that he doesn’t see that in a lot of classical dancers.” (His appreciation extended to ABT in February, when he donated $250,000.)

As for Copeland’s day job, when the ABT season begins this month, she will have a principal part in Alexei Ratmansky’s new ballet, and will also reprise a signature pas de deux in Giselle. Ballet remains the primary focus for Copeland as well as Prince. “He has never said, ‘Don’t look so much like a ballerina.’ What’s No. 1 for him is that I am a ballerina.”


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