For ballerina Misty Copeland, the role of the Firebird is a personally symbolic one. "It was one of the first really big principal roles I was ever given an opportunity to dance with American Ballet Theatre," she tells NPR's Steve Inskeep. "It was a huge step for the African-American community."

Dancing Through It My Journey In The Ballet Image of Jennifer in Pink Costume against black background / Penguin


In 2010, Jenifer Ringer starred as the sugar plum fairy in the New York City Ballet's performance of The Nutcracker. And when a New York Times dance critic insinuated in a review of the performance that Jenifer was overweight, she responded.  Her recent book Dancing Through It: My Journey in The Ballet talks about how she overcame that criticism and her struggle with health and weight (Penguin/2014).