Misty Copeland, left, and John Stephen, right, smile for a photo at an on-campus event.
Meet John Stephen. 👋
John works as a communications specialist in the Office of Communications at VSU.
John is also a dancer and a ballet enthusiast.
John recently met American ballet star, Misty Copeland, at VSU, and this is what he had to say about it.
There she was, right in front of me, the five-foot-two ballet goddess herself. Dressed in her Under Amour gear and all smiles, Misty Copeland breezed into the dance studio at the University Center around lunchtime on Tuesday, April 3, and graciously greeted the VSU dance students who were eagerly waiting to take class with her.
I was there not as a dancer but as a communications specialist for VSU, ready to observe and gather information on her much-anticipated campus visit. But as a former dancer and lover of all things ballet, I was on cloud nine. The one and only Misty Copeland — the Beyoncé of the dance world, the world-renowned ballerina who is featured on massive billboards and in high-end fashion commercials, and the one who has graced the most prestigious stages around the world — was right here in Valdosta at our university. (If you don’t know her, Google her and prepare yourself to be amazed.)
I’ve followed Misty’s career for years, watching as she stunned audience after audience with her irresistible dancing and overcame so many obstacles to become the first female African-American principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre (ABT) in New York City. It felt surreal to see her in real life, not on a screen or even from a distant balcony but in the up-close-and-personal setting of a local dance studio.
Misty was everything I expected her to be and more. I almost fainted watching her flawlessly execute the dance combos only a few feet away from me. She was kind, generous, and down-to-earth when she chatted with all of us after class. (She really was so chill and easygoing. Stars, they’re just like us!) Her keynote talk that ended her day at VSU had me laughing and crying and feeling so inspired. So in case you’re wondering, yes, she is as great as everyone says she is — a living legend in my book.
And the whole experience happened right here at Valdosta State University, not in the Big Apple or La La Land. As a VSU alumnus and now a university employee, I’ve had a lot of big-city experiences at our mid-sized university, like meeting science guru Ira Flatow and sharing the Front Lawn with Gov. Nathan Deal. And because Valdosta and VSU have a special small-town, small-school feel, the experiences we have here are usually more intimate and personal than the ones we might have in bigger cities — experiences, for example, like getting to hang out with one of the most celebrated ballet dancers of our time. No. big. deal.