Misty Copeland's Protégé Leah Monet Simpson Opens Up Dance Studio

By Jaime Prisco on Mar 04, 2015 12:24 PM EST

From example comes inspiration. Leah Monet Simpson, protégé of the famed American Ballet Theatre dancer Misty Copeland, has opened up her own dance studio in Florida.

Simpson met her idol as a 15-year-old dancer living in Virginia. She was studying ballet at the Governor’s School of the Arts, a performing arts high school. Misty Copeland, known for being only the third African-American soloist ever with ABT, was at the school to rehearse for an upcoming performance of Giselle. It was there Simpson met her idol. After the pair's initial introduction, Copeland reached out to the aspiring ballerina.

“I thought it would be great for her to have a black woman as a mentor,” Copeland said in at telephone interview with The Florida Times Union.

The two remained in touch and Simpson even traveled to New York City with her mother to spend the day with Copeland. Copland guided her and her dreams of making it to the professional level, but fortune did not shine on Simpson as it did with Copeland. While performing in 2013, she suffered a stress fracture to her tibia. He doctor advised her that if she ever wanted to dance again, she would have to undergo surgery which would place a steel rod in her leg.

Copeland understood the stress, having spent a year out of dancing with the same injury, but Simpson approached the situation differently than her famous dancing idol. Rather than undergo surgery for an uncertain career as a professional ballerina, she opted to decline the procedure.

Her dream of dancing did not end that day. She moved to Jacksonville, enrolled in school and recently opened up the Monet School of Ballet. Copeland, her old mentor, was willing to do whatever it took to help out her friend. Copeland was meant to travel down to Florida to spend two hours signing copies of her new books, but the snow in New York delayed her travel plans. A new date has not yet been set.

Simpson’s first group of students range in age from 3 to 9.

“That’s the best time to shape them,” Simpson said.

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TagsMisty Copeland, Protege, Leah Monet Simpson, Dance Studio, Ballet, Ballerina

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